From the Centre: Making a fitness change can make a difference

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Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! To show you we go the distance, not only do we have a fellow named Patrick working here, we also had our annual pool ShamROCKfest which is always tons o’ fun. Cheers to those that celebrate and cheers to those that don’t!

One pearl of wisdom, which amazingly has stuck with me since youth and from who I can’t remember, is that whatever abuse you do to your body as a younger person will come back and haunt you as you get older. I have come to know this as truth, not only from my own experiences but from that of friends or acquaintances as they work through various aches and pains, including surgeries for carpal tunnel or knee operations, because they always used their hand as a hammer or overstressed knee joints or ligaments in sports because hey — no pain, no gain, right?

I’m thinking that wisdom may have come from my uncle on his southern Alberta farm where I spent every non-school opportunity away from the big city as youth learning about farming, mechanics and irrigation. Oh yeah, stacking hay, too, where you are nine tiers up lugging bales about in sun so hot that your arms blister — guess how much attention I pay to weird looking freckles 44 years later? I also remember sitting between him and the hired hand as we checked the cattle in various coulees during calving time, both of them smoking roll-your-owns with all the windows up and both of them admonishing me to never start smoking. Other than those delightful times, I never did, and probably have less health issues today because of that.

I also believe all is not lost despite how you treated or even currently treat yourself. I have lost track of how many people I have met in our pool and fitness areas that have avoided knee or hip surgery by following a regimen of regular exercise or water therapy. It may not be for all people but even if it helps a few improve their health, to me that’s worth it. As I have mentioned before, Heather and I swim three times a week before work and then spend a bit of time in the gym following work and, frankly, we are nowhere near as dedicated as some people we see in these places. But it made a difference; we are healthier despite only swimming and working out for a few times a week. I have talked to others that seem to get the same or better results by taking regular fitness classes or coming to something like yoga a couple times a week.

From our experience, we have found a few caveats. First, it’s not for everyone. Frankly, a few years ago, I would have been the last guy you probably would have seen in a gym or a pool, much preferring the mighty outdoors, maintaining my peak physical condition by rolling mighty blocks of firewood down a mountain. Until you feel that twang in your back like a roller blind going up and subsequently spend the next week or two not doing anything. Now we can do both.

Second, for us it helps having someone to go with. It makes it harder to blow off a workout when all you really want to do is go home on a Friday and eat nachos and cheese. Now we still do both.

Third, you get out what you put in. It took a decade or two to develop this expansion pack around my midriff, which cleverly disguises my rippling six-pack, so expecting it to disappear in a month or two at my activity level is naive. Like many of our glaciers, it has receded somewhat but realistically; we will most likely spend our remaining days together.

I guess the bottom line is that doing something is better than doing nothing, and if you consistently do something, even if it’s walking your dog once a day or even doing a couple laps around the walking track, you will be better for it.

Neil Ostafichuk is the recreation supervisor at the Creston and District Community Complex.