Karen Barkstrom - A walk in the park, Central Park

My doctor recently told me I needed to exercise regularly and that I would never be successful at exercising until I found one that I liked.

Well, guess what — I still haven’t found an exercise I like.

But I am walking — at least five times a week for about an hour each time.

The problem is I can come up with all these excuses why I don’t want to/shouldn’t walk — it’s too hot; it’s too cold; it’s raining; my ankle hurts; my back hurts; everything hurts.

But five nights a week I force myself to put on my hiking shoes and get out the door.

The kids bought me an ipod and they loaded some great music for me — the soundtracks from “Oklahoma,” “Sound of Music,” “West Side Story,” “Les Miserables” plus two of my favorites that most people have never heard of — “Flower Drum Song” and “Avenue Q.” Then there’s Peter, Paul and Mary; John Denver, Mamas &Papas, Kingston Trio, Barry Manilow, Barbra Streisand, Bette Middler, Celine Dion, Twila Paris, Casting Crowns and even a little Frank Sinatra and Johnny Mathis.

Lately I asked my son-in-law to set up my ipod to download podcasts from ESPN. I am a huge football fan — doesn’t matter if it’s high school, college or NFL games.

So now I’m listening to Mike &Mike and Colin Cowherd — the podcasts are just the right length and I’m really enjoying them. I’m sure I’ll stop downloading them when football season is over — I’m not a baseball or basketball fan at all — but then I’ll go back to listening to my music.

One of the added bonuses to walking the loop in Central Park is visiting with my four-legged neighbors. There’s Trance, the Great Dane who is about the size of a small pony and ever so happy to see everyone who walks by. And Daisy, the 13-year-old golden retriever who always has a stuffed animal in her mouth that she wants to share with me, and the little Shih Tzu whose whole rear end wags with excitement when I walk by her house. There are the two older cocker spaniels who are trying to teach their new little brother the proper way to walk on a leash and there’s Sadie the 11-year-old black lab (with lots of grey around his muzzle) who reminds me a lot of our own Coaty-boy that we lost a while ago.

And the weather doesn’t matter — in fact I prefer to walk in the rain. I’m not a hot weather fan and for the couple of weeks we get in the summer when the late afternoon temps reach the high 70s or low 80s, I stop on my way home from work and walk the aisles at Home Depot, the SouthShore Mall or Walmart. Not near the scenery that I’m used to but at least they’re air-conditioned!

And on the wet, blustery days in the fall and winter, I have some really good raingear we bought at Dennis Company that keeps me very dry and even helps cut the wind. As the weather gets colder I just adjust what I wear. Right now it’s just the raingear but soon I’ll add a long-sleeved thermal shirt I found in Mike’s closet and then as we get deep into winter, I’ll add a sweatshirt on top of that.

Every evening after work when it comes time to change my shoes, find my ipod and headphones and head out the door, there is that moment of “I don’t want to” but I do. And when I get back from those three miles I always get a feeling of “good for you, Karen. You didn’t give up.”

I still haven’t found an exercise I like, but I do feel a lot better and sleep much better on those nights that I’ve followed the doctor’s orders.


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