The Sedentary Life

Write about how a committed exerciser like yourself copes with sedentariness.  I know you’ve
written some about it before, but I am curious about your process.” – my friend Nancy

Well, it’s been difficult.

BaliWe just got back from a trip to India and Bali. Unfortunately we didn’t do any exercise, mainly because of the problems with my shins – which I’ve now had for over four months. Life in India consisted mainly of going out for lunch and for dinner with Tanya’s friends and relatives. In Bali we did a cooking class, some snorkeling, a lot of going out for dinner, and a lot of hanging out by pools.

In other words, the trip was frustrating for me and the days often dragged. (The wonderful thing about our minds though is that memories are very selective and inaccurate. So when I think back on the trip it seems rather wonderful, seeing different parts of Mumbai, eating lovely food, sunning ourselves by pools.)

ShockwaveWhile in Mumbai I decided to do some medical tourism since prices are so much cheaper than in the U.S. To make sure I don’t have serious problems with my shins I had an MRI and bone scan done – which fortunately showed nothing abnormal. I also did several sessions of physical therapy, including four sessions of extracorporeal shock wave therapy. I think it helped.

Because I can’t exercise, or even do easy hiking, without pain, we canceled all our plans for the summer. We had planned to visit friends in Boulder for a week then to head out for a few weeks in the Greek Islands for some island hopping and easy hiking. Those plans and flights are now canceled. We’d also thought of going to Canada for the hot summer months then heading back to the Mediterranean to cycle in the early fall. All fallen by the wayside.

ComparisonJoyInstead, we decided to spend time in the Tucson heat and focus on getting my legs better. A few weeks ago this would have felt like a terrible option because I like to travel and hike and cycle.

But I’m realizing remaining in Tucson has an upside. It will be more difficult to compare what I’m doing with what others are doing.

Many of our friends are snowbirds and have left for the summer – or will soon be leaving. So there won’t be that many people to compare my life with. And it gets so hot in summer in Tucson that hiking is horrible and the long rides I like to do are miserable.

Boulder1I think it would be very hard for me to be in Boulder – where I lived for so many years – where so many people are cycling and hiking and doing outdoor sports, especially as summer arrives. It would be difficult to see people doing what I’d like to be doing and not be able to join them. I’d be envious.

ClubhouseBack here in Tucson, I’ll be going over to the Clubhouse and swimming laps in the morning (which feels rather like being on vacation 🙂 ). I’ll also be following the program my Indian physiotherapist gave me: stretching, icing my legs, gradually doing some strengthening exercises. But I’ll take my time and increase weights and intensity very slowly.

My plan is to take as much time as is necessary rather than my usual practice of wanting to get out and do, do, do. I’ll also potter around drawing or doing a bit of writing.



Being here in Tucson means I’m less likely to see and compare myself with people doing what I’d love to be doing. I’m less like to be envious.

So to answer Nancy’s implied question, I’ll cope with sedentariness by minimizing the possibilities of comparison and envy.


This entry was posted in Change, Engagement, Retirement, Time Management. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The Sedentary Life

  1. Randy Waterman says:

    The “good” thing about being in Tucson in the summer is the heat…and with it things really slow down. There are fewer people in town, restaurants are easier to get into (and when you eat late enough you can dine outside just about everywhere), and for some reason great entertainment acts often show up here in the summer. It definitely could be worse. As you know, I kind of went through this in 2015 and survived…AND really made me appreciate where I’m at right now.


  2. Christopher says:

    Well it sounds like your exercise problems are mostly tied to your shins. That means that exercise that does not stress out your shins would be a good choice.
    Two options that come to mind, and are near and dear to my heart are canoeing and Kayaking.
    You can make it less of an adrenaline sport and more of a long distance touring sport which is what you like also. I’ve been doing it for 48 years since I bought my first canoe at the age of 12.
    I feel for you, since I also do a lot of exercise and it would be very difficult if I could not go kayaking, hiking, trail building, working out in the gym, etc.


  3. Nancy says:

    Hey! That was an interesting read, thanks for addressing my question. So seems like possibilities for regeneration and renewal are at hand when you are forced to do things in a different way than you would normally choose. You talked about avoiding comparisons with others as a strategy for being OK with the situation, but after reading this, I’ll be curious to hear as the summer wears on, what else happens with the extended break from all of your usual doing. And if you find other possible gains in this situation apart from getting better (which is obviously a primary objective). I’ve vested interest in asking since I have my own formula for excess doing (little different from yours but same idea), and wonder what it would be like to slow down. I have the idea that the doing covers over other things that may be of value, but are hard to reach when running at a fast pace all the time.



    • Alec Sharp says:

      As you point out, this post only addresses part of the problem. The other part is what does one do with the time? And there are obviously psychological issues involved – why we like to do the things we do. Maybe all this will be the topic of another post once I’ve figured it out 🙂


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