Andrea here, thinking today on how we’re all spending a lot more time at home . . . and some of the ramifications involved in sheltering-in-place, especially as here in the northern hemisphere we’re fast approaching the heart of winter . . . which make it even more inviting to curl up in front of the fire with good book and a cup of cocoa.
And maybe cookies. Or chocolate . . .
Pandemic baking is one of those ramifications. NOT that I’m guilty of overindulging in sweets. (Pssst, this Andrea’s editorial assistant, and just so you know, a batch of chocolate-chip blondies just came out of the oven. But you didn’t hear that from me!) Okay, well, maybe I do have a few extra “comfort” treats. The Wenches have been sharing recipes with each other, and so many of them look SO good. (Anne and Christina have been especially bad at leading us astray!) But after all, it wouldn’t be the holidays without sugar and spice. (And butter.)
Which leads me to another pandemic ramification—the dreaded subject of exercise and how to get the heart pumping instead of "plumping". With many gyms closed, and our usual routines curtained, it seems to me that we’re all doing a lot more sitting and staying put—which we all know isn’t good. In response, the sales of home exercise bikes and treadmills have apparently kicked into high gear . . . However, if you’re like a number of my friends, the idea of climbing on an exercise machine sends a trickle of cold sweat sliding down your spine.
You think that’s bad? Ha—don't be a wimp! To make you feel more grateful about working out on a sleek, state-of the-art hi-tech wonder, complete with a heart monitor, cushy padded seat or resilient running surface, video screens and choice of programs programs, I thought I’d share some exercise machines (aka implements of torture) from the past.
I really enjoy a website called Open Culture, which features all sorts of fascinating blogs on quirky things in wide range of subjects. History, art, music, science, pop culture—the articles are always fun and lively. And it also offers links to free lectures, course, art and images. The other day they ran a photo essay on mechanical therapy system designed by Dr. Gustaf Zander, a self-styled Victorian health guru from Sweden. (You can see the full article here.)
Interestingly enough, Zander came up with the idea for his machines because so many factory workers were sitting in one place for hours at a time. (Our sedentary lifestyle is nothing new, though we hunch over computers rather and sewing machines or lathes.) Zander’s Therapeutic Institute in Stockholm (his equivalent of the modern gym) featured a fearsome array of machines designed to strengthen muscles with weights and resistance, just like our high tech designs. Though you admit, his are much cooler-looking . . . though I’m not sure I’d want to strap myself into some of the more intimidating ones!
I have to admit, I’m not a gym rat. The idea of spinning class, with music blaring and an instructor screaming at me to “pump it up” doesn’t appeal to my inner introvert. I do have a spiffy exercise bike by the window in my workroom for cardio fitness, and I do work up a sweat reading or watching “The Crown” on Netflix—or some such interesting video. (Hey—at times it’s research!)
But one of my favorite ways of staying healthy is taking a long daily walk at good clip. No music, no phone (except to snap pictures of nature that catch my eye.) I call them my plotting walks, as I often think about my WIP, and ponder over plot twists that have gotten tangled. Studies have shown that the brain function a little differently when you’re doing something physically active, as opposed to sitting a desk. I really do find that I can be struggling with something all day at the computer, and then suddenly get on what’s wrong when I’m walking along the harbor admiring the sunset.
So what about you? What have you been doing to stay fit? Do you like or loath exercise? What about exercise machines or gym classes . . . Or an outdoor walk?