Exercise opportunities are all around us

Monday, June 17, 2002

A lot of Cape Girardeau residents are taking the chamber's Shape Up Cape program of exercise and fitness very seriously -- some might say too seriously. But the overall effort is a good one, because it is raising the awareness of more folks that exercise is one of the keys to good health.

Good health is not just wellness. It is a lifestyle commitment that means fewer problems as the aging process goes on. It means an attitude of prevention rather than treatment. In the long run, the cost of staying well is far less than the cost of treating and living with serious illnesses or injuries.

There have been many interesting spin-offs as a result of the Shape Up Cape program. One occurred recently when high school football players from Central High School were "volunteered" by their coach, Lawrence Brookins, to help out at the Red House Interpretive Center construction site near the floodwall in downtown Cape Girardeau.

The Red House project, part of Cape Girardeau's observance of the Lewis and Clark bicentennial, involves using logs to recreate the home of Louis Lorimier, the city's founder. These logs are big, heavy and awkward.

Thanks to husky football players, however, the logs have been positioned for other volunteers to get to easily as the house goes up.

This is a good use of muscles. And there are plenty of everyday things we do that would easily fall into the category of good exercise that promotes wellness.

For example, many of us leave our jobs for lunch every day. What do we do? We hop in our cars and drive -- often a short distance -- to a restaurant or fast-food outlet. Smarter folks use this opportunity for walking to and from lunch.

At the University of Missouri-Columbia, according to the latest issue of the university's alumni magazine, the wrestling team takes pride in walking up and down four flights of stairs to get to the wrestling practice area. There are elevators in the building, but, according to the wrestlers, the elevators are for other athletes. The message is pretty clear: Wrestlers are tough. And there is no doubt they benefit from walking up and down the stairs.

A large employer in another city was proud of its new fitness center for employees. At an open house, a public relations director took reporters and photographers on a tour, which started at the ground-floor reception area. The group rode an elevator up two floors to the fitness center.

When one of the journalists suggested taking the stairs might be more in line with the aims of the fitness center, all he got was a glower from the PR person.

Mowing the lawn and even chasing sun-loving toddlers are among the many ways to get healthy exercise. What we have to remember is to do something that keeps us physically active.

We'll all live longer if we do.

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