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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Sledding and sweating and smiling

A few words about aging, because as much as we’d like to not do it, it happens.  You could eat every health food in the book, spend your paycheck on vitamins, slather yourself in creams, and exercise like a fiend and still, at the end of the day, you’re still another day older.
Gray hairs and wrinkles don’t lie.
The good thing about aging is the part that we can control, and I’m not talking about coloring your hair.  I’m talking about the theory that you are only as old as you feel.  Or even, you’re only as old as you want to be.  (Today I packed a piece of plastic doggie doo in my son’s lunch.  By this rational, I am approximately eight years old.)
So when faced with the ticking clock, I think it’s important to take time out of our busy adult lives and actually attempt to be youthful now and then, because if for no other reason, youthfulness feels wonderful.
And there is nothing makes me feel more young than the prospect of a day of serious sledding.  Not the average tiny hill or down the driveway sledding, but rather the big hill type that takes you so long to get down, you have to stop and take breaks on the trek back to the top.  Unless you’re me, in which case I sprint back up and I will knock you and the sled you are resting on out of the way because daylight’s burnin’ and mama needs to pack in as much sledding as possible.  When I push you out of the way at the top of the hill, it’s nothing personal.  It’s just that the act of swiftly zooming down an icy slope with only a cheap piece of plastic between my very self and the snow and rocks and plants gets my heart pumping.  And while screaming down the hill, it’s almost as if I can feel my worries be tumbled up in the wake of my sled.  My smile gets a little bigger, I laugh just a little bit louder, and in general life gets a little better.
If that’s not enough to send you out with breadbags over your socks, I thought I’d further support my theory that sledding is good by providing a few interesting facts, that I promise I didn’t make up.
Sledding exposes us to sunlight during the winter months when we are usually deficient in natural light and can help with our circadian rhythms.
Sledding increases our positive emotions and helps keep us happy by getting us out of the stale indoor air to a natural, outdoor setting.
Sledding can be a great cardiovascular exercise as you walk up and slide down the hill.  It becomes an excellent cardiovascular exercise if you jog, like me, exaggerated more by the whooping and hollering I do after a particularly swift run.
Sledding requires a combination of muscles and balance.  It progresses to a fabulous strength building activity when you drag the sled up the hill with a kid still on it.
Sledding burns a decent amount of calories—0.04 per pound per minute.  And, if you do the math, a recent morning of sledding had me losing almost 900 calories which is about exactly what I consumed in hot chocolate upon coming inside.  While I suppose it makes it a bit of a fitness wash when counting calories, the benefits of snow flying through my hair and screaming in elation as I coast down the hill make it all worth the while.  Even those wrinkly laugh lines from all those smiles are worth it.
Age schmage.  


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