I feel my best when I engage in regular exercise. Excepting my college years as a varsity athlete – of course in those days at the Air Force Academy one did not have to be a varsity athlete to exercise regularly – I have never been more fit than during the last ten years when bicycling became the focal point of my exercise regimen.

Through seven years in Tucson, I averaged 3,500 miles each year highlighted by 4,301.11 miles in 2012 (I use a Garmin Forerunner and log every mile… to the hundredth). I averaged 2,500 annual miles during my first two years in Wisconsin, and that number dropped to less than 500 in 2019 when I moved ‘off the map’ in July. Cracked ribs and collarbone from a bike accident in January have to be considered, although I managed over 3,200 miles in Arizona when I had my second hip replacement in 2014.

cactusNow that I have returned to Arizona, I am back in the saddle thanks to my lifelong friend Dwight who gifted me a bike upon my return.

As a soccer coach, I told my players, “It takes a minimum of two weeks of strenuous work to get into shape; it only takes two days to get out of shape.” That was painfully obvious when I set off on my first ride last week. I am back where I was in 2009 when middle son Brad gave me a junk bike. Five miles was a big deal. That’s the way it was last week; five miles was a big deal.

My plan is to work my way back to a comfortable 15 miles a day by the end of 2019. If I can ride 15 miles a day, four days a week, I will ride over 3,000 miles a year. If I eat wisely, I will be fit.

Jesse Owens
Berlin, 1936

Everyone has the capacity to exercise to promote his fitness and to serve as an example to those who follow her. Your exercise routine may be limited to walking down a crowded street in an urban environment, but if you do it every day, you are enhancing your fitness.

Goals are important. Regardless of your age and your circumstances, I encourage you to establish goals in your life. As you do, don’t overlook mental and spiritual goals. Commit to read every night, pray every morning. I meditate as I ride my bike. The opportunities to promote fitness – physical, spiritual and mental – are limitless. Identify them and commit to them. You are never too old – or too young – to set goals and strive to reach them.

We have an obligation to our sons and daughters and to their sons and daughters as well, an obligation to promote fitness by example in all aspects of our lives. If you are thirty and want to know what it’s like to be seventy, look at a seventy-year-old person. If you are seventy and want to know what it is like to be ninety, look at a ninety-year-old person. Young people watch us and study us more closely than we might think. When my grandchildren observe my actions and listen to me speak, I hope they look forward to a healthy and productive life and say, “Being 70 looks pretty good.”

Mitakuye Oyasin

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