It’s been quite a while since I adhered to a regular exercise routine. Covid closed down my yoga studio as well as the wonderful SLT studio I went to twice a week. I participated online until the repetition and tech glitches drove me to near couch-potato status.  True, I’ve kept up with my 10,000 steps and recently spent eight weeks hiking in Arizona for three to four miles each day. But it’s been way past time to develop, or redevelop, exercise habits I began in high school. 

“Whatever you choose,” my doctor advised me, “just have fun. Figure out what exercise you really want to do and make it fun.” Exercise has always been on my should do, have to, need to list.  It’s satisfying once I’m done but pretty much boring and something to be endured while I’m at it. Until I began thinking how to make it more enjoyable.  

Instead of focusing on specific exercises, I considered what music I wanted to listen to while I worked out. I know, I know, go ahead; call me late to the party. But I relish quietude. Silence is my old friend. I don’t have music streaming through the house nor playlists on my phone. Nevertheless, finding music to exercise to was the turning point. One day I cue up some Joni Mitchell. Another day a Motown medley on YouTube makes my routine fly by. Deva Premal sails me through yoga asanas; the 70’s band It’s a Beautiful Day mentally returns me to my teenage bedroom, reprising the floor routines I did in high school. I feel myself exercising counterclockwise in some curious mash-up of my once-upon-a-time and present self. Granted, my moves are slower; I’m aware and respectful of my limitations. And it’s delightful to feel an echo of 17-year-old me inside of 68-year-old me.

Fifty-plus years ago it never would have occurred to me to appreciate how freely and easily I moved through space. It sure does now. When Deva or Joni or Aretha sing their last notes, I give thanks for head, shoulders, knees, toes, and everything in between. Consider it an exercise in gratitude.