I’m not sure if it’s an aphorism or an adage, but the saying “When one door closes, a window opens” is used in various contexts, usually to keep up one’s spirits. While I can’t seem to pin down who said it first, its general truthfulness and applicability make it useful in a variety of situations. I’ve most recently been applying it to exercise.
Anyone who has read my column knows I struggle with any number of injuries—as do many people over a certain age. (That age varies—just pick a number and go with it.) But just because you can’t do one form of exercise doesn’t mean you should give up and sit on the couch. There are so many things you can do to stay fit and healthy that being unable to do one thing just means you have more time to do something else.
Runners are probably the worst. Once they find out they can’t run anymore, they sit down and cry like babies. I should know—I’m a runner in recovery myself. There are a lot of former runners out there.
My editor, Malcolm, 74, tells me he used to run 20 miles a week. Now he walks 20 minutes every morning on his treadmill. You know what? That 20 minutes a day adds up to 140 minutes a week—just 10 minutes shy of the 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Heart Association, and other health organizations. In addition, Malcolm walks to every meeting downtown, pretty much rain or shine, so in truth he is exceeding the recommended minimum. Walk on, Malcolm.
For me, giving up running was a hard sell, but after months of physical therapy, one non-invasive procedure that failed, and being told surgery would only give me a 50% chance of being able to run again (and a 100% chance of months of rehab), I decided running was out for me. I do enjoy walking, but I need to break a sweat.
I tried some dance-type exercise classes. When I nearly fell over my own feet and flashed back to how I broke my arm last summer, I decided maybe I should try something else. That’s when I looked into cycling.
I chose to try out the free Gear Up classes at Ethos Cycle & Train. I’m glad I did; there is more to indoor cycling than jumping on a bike. But once I got the hang of it, I found myself getting the same endorphin high I previously only got while running. Now I try to cycle once or twice a week. For Christmas, I bought myself cycling shoes!
Now I’ve added another class—Synrgy TKO at the Monroe County YMCA. It’s just what it sounds like—boxing. It’s not in a ring and I’m not going to get knocked out, but it does include jumping rope, hitting a heavy bag, and learning to punch and dodge punches. It’s a great workout, but more than that, it’s fun!
When a door closes, there are lots of windows opening all around you. You just have to look for them and figure out which ones you want to climb through. You found something you loved doing before. Keep looking and you’re sure to find something again.