As I am writing this article, my wife Edie and I are half way through our road trip to the Hudson Valley of New York and to Long Island visiting with some old friends. Traveling by car can be fun, but tiring. We see a lot of seniors on the trips.
Besides the driving, being tourists and sightseeing often involves a lot of walking and climbing, too, when you visit any of the historical sites that are abundant in New York’s Hudson Valley. The driving can leave you stiff and uncomfortable and the walking and climbing can leave you exhausted and tired with sore legs and ankles.
The best thing you can do, and the last thing you want to do when you are stiff, sore and tired . . . Is exercise. It doesn’t take a lot, only a few minutes a day in your room. If you keep it simple and don’t overdo it, you’ll feel better immediately and feel better the next day, too.
Paul Harvey, the late dean of radio newscasting was an active senior right up until he died at age 90. He was still broadcasting until about a week before he died. He claimed to travel with twenty pound dumbbells everywhere he went and exercised with them daily. That’s a lot to carry on an airplane and you certainly don’t need to take twenty pound weights with you on your road trips. In fact you don’t need to use any kind of equipment just to get a few minutes of exercise on your trips. All you need is . . . YOU!
Your legs take the biggest beating. While you are driving or riding, your legs are usually stationary. Otherwise you are usually standing, walking or climbing. Here are some thoughts on how to help your body loosen up and stay flexible while being the road warrior tourist. When you get to your hotel or motel room:
- Stretch your ankles. Lie on the floor or in the bed with your legs flat. Flex and contract your feet forward and back twenty or thirty times. Then pretend your ankles are windshield wipers and move them back and forth ten times, rotate them in one direction ten times and then ten times in the other direction. Or a fun way to exercise your ankles is by writing the alphabet by lying on your back, raising one leg at a time and making big letters with your feet and ankles. Then repeat with the other leg.
- Stretch your legs. Lie on the floor or in the bed with your legs flat. Raise one leg straight up overhead and hold it there for ten seconds. Then rotate your leg in a circle as wide as you can five times in each direction getting as much range of motion in all directions as you can. Lower your leg and repeat with the other leg. This elevates your legs, stretches the back of your legs, and loosens your hips as you rotate your legs overhead.
- Loosen your hips. Lie on the floor or in bed with your legs flat. Raise one leg about a foot off the bed and slowly swing it as far as you can in one direction and then back the other direction as far as you can. Do that five times with each leg. Slowly.
- Loosen you lower back and hips. Lie on your back on the floor or in bed with your legs bent around ninety degrees. Lift your hips and lower back off the floor or bed and form a bridge with your shoulders and your feet. Lower your hips to the floor and bend both knees to your chest. Hold your knees with your hands. Lower your knees back to the starting position and repeat for a total of five to ten repetitions.
Those movements/exercises take about ten minutes maximum. If you do them both when you get up and sometime in the evening, you will feel refreshed at the beginning and the end of each day. You don’t need to make a big deal of it. Keep it simple and just do it!
I won’t discuss eating on the road except to say that Edie and I have had three truly outstanding meals on this trip. The first was lunch at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where some of the best chefs in the world are trained.
The second was a buffet lunch at the Mohonk Mountain House Resort, a magnificent resort out in the boondocks. Look it up online and you’ll see what I mean. It’s a mountain castle out in the middle of nowhere. We worked up an appetite before lunch by hiking up a steep trail to an observation tower far above the resort, looking down on the resort itself. The trail was labeled “steep but pleasant”. Hmm.
The third outstanding meal was at the nondescript Olympic Diner in Kingston, NY where we had a four course dinner that was outstanding and normally enjoyed thoroughly by the locals. Yes I said four course (soup, salad, entrée, and dessert), and yes I said nondescript. The Food TV channel should feature it. These were not lo-calorie or non-fat meals. Oh well, we are on vacation and yes I have been getting my exercise.
Enjoy your next road trip with just a little exercise in the morning or in the evening. It’s truly the pause that refreshes.
Thanks for reading.