Ow. They HURT.

I just got in from the third day in a row from speedwalking around my block in the wee hours. This morning I took a cheat break to give a neighbor’s bully and boxer a lovely rubdown while my legs ached. Then I took off again, my legs barking protest as loudly as his dogs.

And I am SO GRATEFUL.

Slightly more than a month ago I broke my back in a spectacular horse riding accident. Four vertebrae. This morning I actually headed out the door without my brace. I am off to the pool, too. I’m back at the gym punching weights.

I hurt all over.

And I am SO GRATEFUL.

This January I turn 65. My generation is spending more and more time- up to 13 to 14 hours a day for many – sitting, according to epidemiologist Loretta DiPietro of the Miliken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.

In a story on National Public Radio this morning, DiPietro talked about how, if you are younger, you might be able to shrug off such a huge amount of time on your tush with an hour of exercise each day.

I beg to differ. All the studies now show that the more we sit at any age, the more damage we do over time, in sum. The cumulative effects of so much sitting result in a multitude of disorders, disease, obesity, diabetes, a host of other problems. Binge-watching and ordering in make it so very easy to become a living vegetable without ever severing our spinal cord. The effect is precisely the same.

However, what I do agree with is the finding of a sitting and walking ability survey of people ages 50 to 71 across eight to ten years. They were studied according to their sitting and moving habits.

Not surprisingly, those who moved the least had more than three times the risk of difficulty walking by the end of the study. Some couldn’t walk at all.

What breaks my heart is that we save up for our retirement with a dream of doing so many things. What good is money in the bank if you can’t even walk to the counter to take it out? You sure as hell aren’t going to go on a hike, kayak a river, paddle a canoe or search for gorillas in Uganda. Who are you fooling here?

As someone who has fought and won the obesity battle, I empathize with how hard it is to eschew sweets and temptation. However, on this mobility issue, I am adamant. We have ONE body. Quality of life is determined first and foremost by health. If you can’t get up and walk across your own home, what then is quality of life? Sitting around watching Ion TV reruns for decades and rotting in your chair?

People fear falling. Falls happen more because people aren’t in shape more than any other reason. The more you sit, the more likely you are to fall when you DO finally get up and ask those flabby, soft muscles to work. Exercise creates balance, coordination and confidence. Read: fewer or no falls. This is a no-brainer.

About fifteen minutes from my house is a wondrous rock outcropping called Red Rocks Amphitheater. Not only popular for bands and shows, thousands of us go hike and run the hundreds of steps all year long, except for icy days and blizzards.

One day as I was finishing a lap I spotted a couple at the bottom. Mid-sixties. The woman was gripping the bannister. I watched, fascinated, as she struggled to rise maybe three steps. Her husband, I presumed, helped her. While I don’t know her story, I have impressions. And my impression, was, there’s a wheelchair in her future if she doesn’t start walking.

When I don’t have a busted back I work out up to three hours a day. When I am on the Injured Reserve list I go out of my mind. I have to do these itty bitty weenie exercises and baby my body. So when my physical therapist sets me free, GET OUT OF MY WAY.

In no way do I expect anyone to commit to the level of exercise I do. Because of what I do for joy- adventure travel- and the inherent dangers (as in, a broken back, fractured pelvis) – being in superb physical condition isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s an absolute prerequisite. It guarantees that I heal incredibly fast, and I am literally back in the saddle, running Red Rocks, lifting weights in just a few weeks. Even with a broken back. Even at 64.

However, what it has taught me as I age, is a deep regard for the resiliency of the body, its ability to rebound, and how, when we work and feed it with respect, it will delight and surprise us with its powers to serve us well into our later years.

Shin splints? Phooey. They’re a mild scolding. My legs are saying,

Where the hell have you been?”

Sitting too much. Which for me is a living hell.

I love my shin splints. We’re back in business. See you at the gym.