Social Climbers

By Joyce

Friends and neighbors, Claudia and Jackie, joined me today for stair climbing on this fine, and increasingly rare, sunny morning at the concrete stairs tucked in at intersection of S. Cooper St. and Waters Ave. S. in Upper Rainier Beach. There’s nothing better, in between breaths, than talking about books, gardening and local beautification efforts to take my attention off this demanding, sweaty form of exercise.  All of us carried backpacks with varying poundage (5lbs – 20lbs) of rice or other bulk foods to make it more of a load bearing exercise.  As middle-aged women, we need to keep building lean muscle mass since women tend to lose 5 -7 pounds of muscle a year if not doing weight-bearing exercise.  And besides building strong bones, weight-bearing exercise keeps your metabolism fired up because having more muscle generates more metabolic activity, which burns fat.  At fifty-four years old, I’m all for it.

I would have never imagined that I would voluntarily walk up and down stairs carrying weight, but after my backpacking trip to the Sierra Nevada Mountains this past summer, I can’t think of a better way to stay in shape and partake in my local landscape.  While descending the stairs, one is treated to wide screen views of Lake Washington, a performance stage for precipitation and light.  Mist, rain and fog can seem so miserable when exercising indoors but can actually be the very elements to invigorate the senses when experiencing them outdoors.

Finally, what gets me out of bed so I can climb the stairs, three mornings a week at 8AM, is I feel stronger and better for the effort. If I feel stronger, I feel more self-confident.  If I feel more self-confident then I doubt myself less.  If I doubt myself less, I feel better about my life.  If I accomplish nothing else than climbing stairs in a day then I have indeed done a good amount of cardiovascular work.

All the work, all the sweat, is so worth it, and so much more bearable if I have company.  There’s no denying it – I am a social climber.

Please join me on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 8AM at the intersection of S. Cooper St. and Waters Ave. S.  If you want to do load-bearing exercise, use a backpack with a waist belt so the weight is well distributed.  Increase load gradually.

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