TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

June 30, 2011

It's Not Exercise, It's a Sport and You are the Athlete


TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

CORBIN — Click to view Voice of Faith, June 2011 Issue in its entirety.

By: Peggy Retherford

It’s never too late to start a healthy habit! I used to look at all types of exercise as socially acceptable forms of torture. It was my punishment for my lack of discipline when it came to eating. Exercise was like taking a nasty medicine — knew I needed to do it — loathed every minute if it — had to do it all over again the next day.

Well, it’s time to take heart (no pun intended)! There are some exercises that are actually FUN. It can be as simple as biking, park trail hiking, running/jogging, bowling, roller-skating, dancing, golf, swimming, weights, fishing, volleyball, gardening, canoeing, skiing, racket-ball, paint-ball, rock climbing, etc. Whew! The key is to focus on being active. The fun comes when the activity is something you also like to do. It’s not exercise, it’s a fun sport!

When you participate regularly in a sport, you will lose weight, gain lean muscle, increase endurance, improve flexibility and balance; all while having fun and making new friends. Consider a sport that involves the entire family. Physical activity can bring families closer together. Parents and children can create regular opportunities for meaningful conversations and really getting to know one another. Often, parents find the most natural and unprompted discussions occur during this type of togetherness.

Being involved in a sport you enjoy makes it so much easier to lose weight and keep it off. Building muscle mass and increasing cardiovascular fitness helps you stay healthy. You’ll speed up your metabolism, strengthen your heart, and feel better all around. As an added bonus, you’ll look healthier and feel more attractive. Start smart. Start small. If you hurt yourself trying to be a premier athlete on day one, there probably won’t be a day two. Pick a sport that is fun for you and work your way up. You won’t regret it!

1.  Ralph Lynch

Some folks think retirement means sitting in a rocking chair. That is not the case for Ralph Lynch of Williamsburg, a graduate of the University of the Cumberlands! He exercises almost every day of his life. During any given week, he plays golf, bowls, and/or goes fishing. Somehow Ralph also finds the time to sing in two different choirs, including the Regional Chorus at Union College in Barbourville. In his “spare time,” he walks, plays guitar, takes a dance class, spends time with his family, stays involved in his church, and even finds time to teach a handgun class for those who wish, or need, to carry a concealed deadly weapon (CCDW)!

Ralph has found fun ways to exercise and enjoy his retirement, and most importantly — his life!

2.  Skip Gregory

Skip Gregory has been a health enthusiast for the last 25 years. He started by laying down the cigarettes. He had a brief moment of weakness when he replaced them with gingersnap cookies (two hands full at a time), but eventually, all the crutches were thrown aside and a healthier lifestyle emerged for good.

From sadistic workouts on the Nordic Track to grueling hikes in the mountains, Skip was determined to avoid the family curse of heart disease that took his father and the majority of his uncles in their mid to late 40’s.

Skip eventually found, and fell in love with, long distance biking. His daily route consists of at least 25 miles, but he has taken several week long excursions in TN, VA, FL, and KY, racking up thousands of road miles along the way. He normally rides alone — primarily because the rest of the family is pretty worthless when it comes to physical exertion — but he doesn’t seem to mind. I think he finds total contentment in the journey, wherever the road may lead.

I have to tell you that he was not totally successful in avoiding “the curse.” In 2005, skip had a heart attack and underwent quintuple bypass surgery. Regardless of the effort given, Skip wasn’t able to totally negate genetics, but he did tip the scale in his favor. Had he not committed himself to the strenuous exercise program years earlier, he probably would not have survived to grace us with his wonderful presence.

Even after the heart attack, Skip’s overall physical condition was so good, he was released from the hospital within the first week to complete his recovery at home. He walked many miles, building up his strength and endurance. Within a matter of months, he was back on the bike. Our mother almost had her own heart attack the day he rolled out of the driveway on his Giant, but he came back safe, sound, and hugely proud of himself.

Today, Skip still rides almost every day (weather permitting) and still loves every minute and every mile of the trip.

3.  Connie Jo York

Improving and maintaining the physical fitness of my friends (and me) is not only my part-time career, it has been my passion since 1985! Step Aerobics in a group setting,is by far my favorite cardio workout. Not only does Step increase your heart rate to an effective zone, it also shapes and tones your entire body! When performed in patterns and combinations, Step is also exercising the brain. You must think a little bit. I don’t get too complicated because that would not be fun, but yes, there is some thinking involved! In a group setting Step class, you are soaking up energy from your fellow steppers, moving constantly to a strong, energizing music beat, and thinking about what comes next. Simply put, Step Aerobics is a total workout, body and mind, which is fun and never boring!

Connie Jo York is owner of the Aerobic Spot in London. She is a Group Fitness Instructor certified by the American Council on Exercise.

4.  Spencer Hampton

Spencer Hampton is an 11-year-old boy with ADHD. He lives in Corbin and will be attending Corbin Intermediate School this year.

Last year Spencer asked to try out for the Archery Team. I was a little reluctant because of my work schedule and Spencer’s difficulty in concentrating. However, after much persistence on his part, I finally gave my permission. He made the Archery Team!

Archery is a sport that requires a steady hand and accuracy. Spencer practiced faithfully after school and at home. He shot a few holes in the back yard fence along the way, but he quickly began to do very well in the tournaments. Spencer actually received 3rd place in his most recent regional competition. He was one of only two students from Corbin Elementary to qualify for the State Competition in Louisville.

I consider this a great accomplishment for a beginner. I am very proud of him. Of course, he was quite proud of himself too! Spencer has discovered a sport he truly enjoys.

We attend Tri-County Trinity Church, and we thank God every day for all of his blessings.

5.  Amy and Michael Gregory

For us, hiking is a more than just an exercise. It’s a great way to escape all the distractions of modern society and spend quality time together. It’s an opportunity for great conversations, fresh air, and beautiful scenery. Hiking is a challenging adventure which keeps us motivated and eager to take on new goals. You’ll find yourself connecting with the peace and serenity nature has to offer and it doesn’t even seem like exercise anymore! Whether your inspiration is a historical monument, waterfalls, or wildlife the beauty of God’s creation is evident.

6.  Union Derby Dawgs

In a word: Camaraderie. That’s why I, Melissa Frederick, ran the Kentucky Derby Festival Marathon back in April.

I’ve been running consistently and training regularly for endurance races for about six years now. The Derby marked my fifth full marathon. It also marked a first—the first race I had run with a group, that is. And I don’t know if I’ll ever do it any other way.

We called our group of 12 Union College students and staff the Union Derby Dawgs. We trained together for 18 weeks, discussing our individual strategies, goals and expectations along the way. We challenged one another, offered support and shared stories about strained muscles, blistering feet and the many other things we instantly had in common. The oldest and youngest of our group (42 and 20, respectively) became peers with similar goals and appetites for competition.

We’ve decided that the Derby Dawgs will be back again next year, hopefully with a few new faces and a personal best or two to report. Until then, we’ll keep racking up the miles and the conversations going.

After training for a marathon together, the Union Derby Dawgs have a connection that spans across generations.

7.  Bethany Ledford

My horse’s name is “This Spot’s Taken,” so I’m sure you can understand why we call him Spot for short. He is an Arabian horse, which means he is good natured, quick to learn, and willing to please. The breed is also known for its speed and endurance, and true to form, Spot spent a few of his earlier years as a race horse.

I enjoy the time I get to spend with my horse, but more importantly, the time it gives me with family. My dad practically lives at our barn, so riding horses is the best way for us to spend time together and bond.

During the summer, weather permitting, we ride outside on trails to get away from society for awhile and just enjoy the scenery! It’s also a pretty good physical workout. My muscles are always a little sore after a long day of riding.

For me horseback riding serves multiple needs in my life — fun, fitness and family!