I'm still swimming thrice weekly in the Chateau Laurier pool; yesterday I believe I swam 40 lengths, although I tend to lose count because the exercise sends me into a trance, a particularly pleasant trance on the quite frequent, lucky occasions when I have the pool to myself and can hear the music. That's when it feels as though I'm swimming in music as well as in water.
It must surely be doing me good, this winter. The walk to and from the Chateau adds to that and serves as a good enough warm-up and cool-down routine; the cool down is especially noticeable when the wind-chill's at –20º or so. Today's windchill, on March 18th, is still in the minus teens. Chris and I went for an hour's walk round town this morning, across the Alexandra Bridge into Gatineau and back onto Parliament Hill via the Portage Bridge. There's ice underfoot on the riverside trails, but patches of grass are beginning to show and the sky is once again very blue.
Using our muscles is a Very Good Idea, according to an article our German conversation group read from the popular magazine Focus. The article, from June 2012, was entitled Die Macht der Muskeln and claimed that German doctors who prescribe weight lifting exercises as a treatment for certain ailments are seeing remarkable results. Apparently the developing muscle fibres release a a so-called myokine which has beneficial effects on multiple parts of the body, including the blood, the liver and the brain. The older we get and the more often we spot a momento mori, the more we want to do something about keeping fit, while we can. It's either that or giving up. The other evening Chris and I were driving along behind a car that bore the license plate: NEVRGVUP. That was a worthy message!
We're having a relatively healthy week this week, because we've gone for brisk outdoor walks on the other days too. Chris has a membership card for the city-run Champagne Fitness Centre / Centre de conditionnement physique on King Edward Avenue and uses a treadmill there in the evenings while gazing up York Street from the windows. On Monday evening, for the sake of a new experience, I came along too and used the treadmill beside the one he was using. I managed to keep going for the same length of time, but much more slowly. I found it an overrated way to exercise, vastly inferior to swimming or walking in the fresh air because one is fixated on the numbers all the time (oh look, my heart rate has gone up to 135..., I have covered 1.85 kilometres and burned no more calories than half a Kitkat's worth) instead of taking in the leaves rustling in the wind, or the seagulls soaring, or the stars and moon, or the crunch of fresh snow underfoot. No, give me the real thing any day, for preference. Nor did I like the fact that one can't suddenly vary one's pace without either having to fiddle with the dials or falling off the machine. If I had to live on a space station or got sent to prison (as I might be if Bill C-51 comes into effect and the authorities find I've been signing all those pinko-liberal inspired petitions) then I'd be glad to use a treadmill, but I don't see the necessity for it yet.