I sit around a lot, every day. I sit in front of my laptop (writing), at my piano (playing), on the sofa with a book or a pile of articles (reading), or – with my knees tucked to my body – on a chair (eating). I also sit when working or attending a colloquium at uni, and when giving piano lessons (on a chair next to my student – who also sits – at the piano). When I do not sit around, I lay around, in the bath tub (bathing) or in my bed (sleeping). In a nutshell, I need exercise. And I spend too much time within buildings. So something has to be done about it. Starting today.
~ looking back at cute little houses on the way up to the mountain side ~
I am not a gym rat. (I have a gym membership and I go there every week – have I mentioned that I sit on the stationary bike or at some machine there? – but I am not the kind of person who hits the gym every day in order to get fit. To be honest, what I love the most about my gym is that it has a sauna. I also like that it has climate control what is very useful in hot summers and cold winters. Otherwise, I prefer fresh air.) I am also not a runner – an insight I have gotten after countless unsuccessful attempts to get into running. But I am a walker.
~ there is nothing better than comfy shoes and warm clothing in cold weather ~
I have always found that walking frees the mind and fosters creativity, and some of my best ideas when stuck with something I was working on I have gotten while walking. One of my favorite activities is simply walking around, with some lovely music on my ears – like this fabulous little piece by one of Sweden’s best Jazz combos. It is a tragedy that the pianist Esbjörn had drowned on a diving tour a few years ago. (If the embedded video does not work, you can watch it on YouTube directly.)
Moreover, walking can be great exercise and really warming it you walk energetically. The place where I live supports energetically walking a lot since it is full of steep gradients. Heidelberg lies in the valley of the Neckar river, surrounded by the Odenwald which is a low mountain range in southwestern Germany. You just need to follow one of the small roads that go up the mountain side, and after a few minutes it will turn into a narrow path that leads into the Odenwald.
To the right and left of the path, people have their gardens at the mountain side, where they grow apple and cherry trees, flowers, or vine, and many of them have little houses there. The gardens are narrow and steep, and every few steps you pass another garden entrance. Many of the gardens look a little shabby, but they are also lovely.
~ it was chilly, and there was frost up here ~
~ a lot of beauty could be discovered by the wayside ~
When you leave the gardens behind, the path that has led along the mountain side so far goes further uphill into the forest mountains.
After another steep ascent, the path leads to the regular trails that run crisscross. On these trails, you can go for miles and miles across the mountain forest.
By the way, this is one of Germany’s most beautiful half-marathon distances. It is also one of the hardest because it goes up and down all the times, and sometimes the running path is very steep for several miles. (Lucky me was just walking. I am not going to run this distance!)
Another lovely fact about the trail is that it is secure to use. I was walking around up there alone, in the late Sunday afternoon, and it was getting dark gradually. But I had not to be afraid for a single moment, because I knew nothing would happen to me. Every now and then, I meat couples, joggers, families, and other walkers. It was very peaceful. And there was not even a tiny piece of litter lying around. (I must admit that this is something I really like about Germany.)
A part of the trail is called the Philosopher’s Way, and it goes along the mountain side directly above the city. From here, you have a wonderful view at the inner city and the castle.
The Philosopher’s Way maybe is Heidelberg’s Venice Beach in some way – minus the beach. Seriously, if you can afford a villa up here, with a wide view over the city, the river, and the valley, you will easily be able to afford a stylish car as well, to get up to where your villa is.
~ some people appreciate steepness as a nice detail of their fitness regimen ~
Today I am in severe pain, but I have made the resolution to do a little walking like this every day, to balance my rather intellectual and physically sluggish every day life. I never had to care for my mind because it always worked well, but my body tends to go short and needs some more attention. And due to this little one-hour walk, it has as well started to call attention to itself, more than it usually does. (Did you know that you have muscles beneath your shin bones? I did not, but I know now. Even my arms hurt today. ) Anyway, this is the good pain.
How do you stay fit in your every day life? What is your favorite kind of exercise?