Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Irregular Exercise

I hate going to the doctor. I hate it because I don’t like being mostly naked in front of a relative stranger, because I don’t like people touching me, because the questions they ask remind me that I’m growing older. But one of the top reasons – if not the very top reason - that I hate it is that I know my doctor is going to ask me the dreaded question: “So, are you getting any regular exercise?”

By “regular” exercise, I know she means stuff like going to the gym three times a week, jogging on the treadmill for an hour a day, swimming laps at the local Y every morning, or taking a weekly spinning/Pilates/Zumba/yoga class. In which case the answer to that question is a resounding, “NO.” But if she were to ask me if I get any kind of “irregular” exercise, I could respond to that question with a confident, “YES!”

Yes, I get plenty of irregular exercise. And by “irregular exercise,” I mean “any of a multitude of physical tasks required to keep two small children from destroying themselves, my house, and my sanity.” These physical tasks include things like spontaneous bedtime dance parties attempting to exhaust them into falling asleep without complaint; chasing a naked child around the house at top speed while waving a diaper; wrestling with a child who does not want to put on his/her [insert article of clothing here]; dead lifting a sleeping 50-pound child from a car seat and carrying him up a flight and a half of stairs without waking him; hefting a 30-pound child in and out of a high chair/car seat/grocery cart/trash can (don’t ask); flying tackles of a child who is about to fall off the back of the couch/stab himself with sewing scissors/stab his sister with sewing scissors/wake Daddy at 5am/let herself out of the house wearing only a diaper, a pair of cowboy boots, and a Cinderella tiara/set the neighbors’ dog on fire.

I understand that these exercises are not exactly endurance events, but believe me, there is a significant cardio component involved. If it’s true that “whatever doesn’t kill us makes us stronger,” then this is the kind of exercise that will make parents immortal. Every time my heart stops beating in panic and then spontaneously re-starts itself in relief, I figure it must be gaining muscle.

There are also quite a few non-cardiac-related exercises involving my kids that I perform on a very regular basis: swinging them back and forth while singing, “Tick-tock, tick-tock, I’m a little cuckoo clock!”; lifting them with my legs so they can fly like an airplane; heaving them up onto my shoulders to see over a crowd of tall adults; pushing them on the playground swing; galloping around the room neighing like a horse with one of them riding on my back; and simply going for walks around the neighborhood. That, at least, is regular irregular exercise.

So maybe the next time my doctor asks if I’m getting any exercise, I’ll think of my kids and answer, “Yes, I am!” Of course, thinking of my kids probably won’t help that much when she goes on to ask me if I drink…

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