We are moving into the cooler days of autumn and I’m losing my excuses for not exercising more. As I age I’m finding that while my weight is still the same at 150 that my muscles are getting smaller. I need to do better and for me that’s an exercise in willpower over sloth.

Rodger's avatar tries the Tree pose at the Avatar Fitness Club

Rodger’s avatar tries the Tree pose at the Avatar Fitness Club

As we get even older sloth acquires a helper: loss of function. Aging brings physical changes and with those changes comes the need for new approaches to exercise. Now while you see the occasional 90 year old marathon runner, most 90 year olds are doing well to get to the mailbox and even then endurance and balance often require holding on to the mailbox for a moment before hiking back to the house.

For those who still are mobile, gyms or senior centers often offer classes in yoga, tai chi, chair-based exercise, aerobic dance, etc. All of these are good and provide a dose of human contact and companionship, as well as, the exercise part. Here in Wimberley there is an inexpensive yoga class at the community center that fills the hall every week.

When daily travel to the gym or senior center becomes difficult there are some home-based options. Hiring a coach to come to  your house is nice but not necessarily affordable for everyone. I’m aware of three additional options.

First, get an exercise video or find a TV program that offers guidance and, most importantly, moral support for something you like to do for exercise. One video I know about is Tai Chi for Seniors. This was developed by Mark Johnson (http://taichiforseniorsvideo.com) and it’s a well designed program.

The second option is to find a web site that offers basically the same as a video or TV show but web sites have an additional advantage. Web sites usually provide for the users/students to comment to the coach and discuss techniques and progress with each other via text chat. This adds back in the personal, human contact element and can be very supportive. An example of this is Yoga with Adriene. This is a series of yoga videos that are well conceived and that offer the opportunity for socializing as well. It is hosted by Adriene Mishler, who is based in Austin (http://yogawithadriene.com).

My third option is fairly strong on the support side and not much on the exercise. This alternative is to participate in a virtual exercise program in a 3D virtual world. An example of this is the Avatar Fitness Club run by the Cooperative Extension Service. They offer a number of exercise programs that you do as a virtual avatar. Some limited research as shown that virtual exercise can have both mental and physical results. Find the club in the Second Life® virtual world at http://maps.secondlife.com/secondlife/Morrill3/188/95/30

Join us for a real-time discussion about questions raised by this essay on Tuesday from 12:00 p.m. to 12:45 p.m. We use the self-same virtual world as was mentioned above. See Discussion and SL tabs above for details. Link to the virtual meeting room: http://tinyurl.com/cjfx9ag.