boats · fitness · Guest Post · sailing

Vulnerability, Sailing, and Naked Yoga, Part 1 (Guest Post)

                                                 

by Ellen Burgess

Vulnerability

I recently watched a Netflix special by a woman named Brene Brown on the topic of vulnerability and courage.  She defined vulnerability as “the courage to show up and letting ourselves be truly seen” (weaknesses and all), when you can’t control the outcome (or reactions of others). She was talking primarily about emotional vulnerability but as I discovered this week, that can show up in all areas of life including in sport and fitness.

So this two part blog is all about two new activities I tried this week, which required two distinctly different types of vulnerability: 1) learning how to sail which involved a willingness to make mistakes in front of my loving, but sarcastic cousin Dale with 60 years of sailing experience and 2) participating in a naked yoga class! Yep, that’s right folks, nothing but my birthday suit…aka: totally STARKERS! However this week’s blog will only address the sailing component. You will have to follow up on next week’s post to hear all about the Naked Yoga!

Sailing

My cousin Dale had invited me to sail with him several times in the past but I had declined. This year he told me he was selling the boat by the end of June, so this was my last chance. 

So off to Michigan and Lake St. Claire I went.  Prior to this week, I had planned to do an online sailing course, which I proudly announced to my veteran sailing cousin 6 weeks ago.  Sadly, I bit off more than I could chew and only finished chapter 1!  So, when I got on the boat, all I could do was name basic boat features including: the main sail, jib, boom, port, starboard, bow, and stern.  In fact, that was about all I knew. Dale was duly unimpressed since I was one of only 2 crew for his 30 foot boat and we were racing that night and the next.  He mumbled that it was “a good thing we have 2 hours before the race gets started!”

He then began giving me directions to rig the boat on my own instead of enlisting me as a helper which would have been easier for both of us.  This was a great strategy for me to learn quickly, albeit somewhat embarrassing at times, as I was prone to confusing port with starboard and right with left!

Shortly after I finished rigging the boat, it started pouring rain and there was zippo wind. Things continued that way until we got off the water at 9:30 pm. I was hoping the race would be cancelled since I was tired after all that learning and rigging, but no such luck, so off we went.  And we sat… for a long time… in the boat… in the rain…with no wind. 

After 30 minutes of 2-4 knots per hour, I started engaging in some idle chit chat with my cousin, because really, what else was there to do?  I was quickly informed that “this is no time for chatting, we are in a race, not on a pleasure cruise!” Okay, so this sailing thing can be really serious business I guess. On the bright side, since there was practically no wind the entire evening, Dale was able to teach me to tack and steer without any serious safety risk.

The next night the weather was much better and I was happy to demonstrate my new found ability to rig a boat on my own with minimal direction.  This time I was able practice some more tacking of the jib.  I learned that the combination of tacking and steering at an angle as close to the wind’s direction as possible, can get me to just about any destination that I choose (although I can’t say I personally experienced this!).

All in all this was a great experience and I look forward to trying it again in Guelph sometime, maybe with Sam and Sarah one night.

So what does this have to do with vulnerability? Well at the age of 55, I do not learn as quickly as I used to, so I had to be willing to make mistakes without personalizing my cousin’s sarcastic and sometimes impatient remarks.  10 years ago, I would not have been emotionally strong enough for this type of situation. At that time, I had a thin skin and took myself way too seriously, so I probably would have wound up crying and feeling sorry for myself at the end of it all.   Instead, I felt proud of myself for trying something new and was really happy to have the opportunity to bond with my cousin. 

Overall, I would say there was both personal growth and learning in my sailing adventure. I am learning a new sport and stretching my limits physically and mentally as I attempt to learn something new. I was also able to vulnerable by “showing up and being seen” when I am not feeling strong and confident…  first by trying with no success, trying again with some luck, and then finally, trying and succeeding…all in a day’s work on a sailboat!

Ellen on her cousin Dale’s boat

Ellen Burgess is from Guelph, Ontario and is a runner, yoga practitioner, meditator, and cycling enthusiast.  She is currently fulfilling her career dream working as a mental health RN within the greater Wellington community. 

accessibility · body image · fitness · SamanthaWalsh

Body Diversity (Guest Post)

By Samantha Walsh

Saturday was the Protest against Divisiveness with @connectionarts. It really was not a protest, but more of an installation. The event was to draw attention to the need for unity and collaboration.

Each model was able to pick their own slogan. I picked “Human Diversity.” I think this speaks to the need to value disability and that the notion of one standard body is a myth. Additionally, difference makes us stronger as a society.

The event offered an opportunity for onlookers to better understand why folks would be compelled to participate in body painting. My friend @elisabethalicee was my artist. (There were more models than artists.) I think she did a great job. The installation took place in time square and there was a mile long parade after to the flat iron building.

This was a very different experience than the other two events I have participated in. There was a lot more media. Folks in Times Square were a lot more vocal and sometimes rude. The day overall was great. However, I did end up putting clothes on part way through the parade, because I was at the back end of the parade and at points felt unsafe.

Overall, the experience was great and gave me a lot to think about. Another cool feature of yesterday is I have done enough body painting that I now know some folks from the past. Additionally, I met a really cool fellow disabled woman, she and I were steadfast in the feeling that representation matters.

I am so pleased Human Connection Arts is in my life.

Samantha Walsh is a Doctoral Candidate in Sociology. She also works in the Not-For-Profit Sector.

You can read all of Samantha’s posts here.

body image · clothing · femalestrength · fitness

Making peace with our changing bodies

“When you get thin again, can I have your bigger clothes?”

Someone at a party asked one of my friends that last week.  If I squint really hard and ignore toxic body shaming culture, I might be able to imagine that this person thought she was giving my friend a compliment.  “That’s a great outfit!  You’re such a fit person you’ll lose that baby weight just like that!  You’re so pretty in that — I wish I looked like you!”  I guess?

My friend is a fitness instructor, a former body builder, and someone who has fought disordered eating, body shaming and body obsession for a long time.  Her mission is to support women to love their bodies for what they can do, whatever shape or ability that is, to help them build emotional and physical strength.  She’s absolutely beautiful, luminous and kind, inside and out.

She had a baby six weeks ago.  She worked out throughout her pregnancy in a careful way, had a healthy birth and gorgeous wee baby, and has worked hard to love and be at peace with her larger body.  She went to that party feeling like she looked great.

And this one comment completely knocked the breath out of her, shredded the colourful, silken threads of self love she’d spun, painstakingly, one at a time.

***

HM The Queen Attends Trooping The ColourBody shaming and body policing are so much a part of our culture that a lot of the time, we don’t even notice them, unless they are shockingly overt — like this gym in Connecticut that sent out an email telling its customers to grab their excess flesh and imagine what that would look like in summer photos — “god forbid, a side pic sitting down!” — or the dank pockets of the celebrity internet that define women only through their bodies and competition.  I won’t link to these places, but one of this week’s headlines speaks for them all:  With the spotlight strong, can Duchess Meghan outdo Kate Middleton’s success in restoring her pre-baby body?

Most of these moments are so woven into our day to day lives that they’re noteworthy only when they hit us right in the most tender parts of our souls.  But whether or not we notice them, they twist how we experience ourselves.  And even when we have huge feminist reflexivity about this, we still get entangled.

***

Over the past few months, I’ve been committing some of those body shaming microaggressions on myself.  I’m 54.  I’m not quite menopausal, but Things are Definitely Changing in my body.  I’m fit and active — I’ve worked out 148 times so far this year, and am well on my way to hitting 300 or more again for the year.  I’m loving feminist crossfit, and training on a sweet new bike for this trip I’m doing with Susan, Sam, Sarah and others in Newfoundland in two weeks. 

But I’ve also gained weight this year.  Even though several people have commented on how “buff” I look from the crossfit, have said I look fit — even hot — all I see is a heavier, thicker middle.  My clothes don’t fit — not my favourite jeans, or a lot of my work clothes.  I’ve become that middle aged woman wearing crossfit shoes, leggings, a flowy top and an Interesting Scarf to everything.  It’s disheartening to have to shove piece after piece of clothing back into the closet.  And I’ve taken to making comments about myself that chastise myself for the weight gain.  Out loud.  To others.  You know the ones.

I know in my head that I’m fit and strong.  I have a lot of joy from moving my body.  I know that some of my weight gain is muscle, and some of it is being 54 and endlessly menstruating.  Because I’m still having mostly regular periods at this advanced age, I seem to be always experiencing the PMS-y hormones that make me bloated.  I also have some gut issues that contribute to bloatiness.  (And god knows, I probably sleep with the light on).

And at the same time, I’m in the “menopausal transition,” which includes, as this study puts it, “unfavorable alterations in body composition, which abruptly worsen at the onset of the menopausal transition and then abate in postmenopause.”  Those “unfavorable alterations” are basically an increase in fat mass in the average woman that doubles every year for the key time of menopause (about three years), and a loss of lean mass.

Our bodies change when we’re 12 or so, and it’s unnerving then. Pregnancy is a hormonal carnival.  A few people’s bodies seem to experience birth and breastfeeding without any noticeable lingering effect, but most are changed in some way forever.  The waxing and waning of hormones affects our mental health, our energy, our appetites, our sleep, our metabolism, our immune systems.   Peri-menopause is another unpredictable extravaganza, and then there is all of the older life stuff.  There is no “set point.”  It’s dynamic, always.

That is life, and this is what my body is at this stage of my life.  Just like my post-partum friend’s body is what it is.  There is no “back to normal” — there is only forward, aging, changing bodies, and the challenge of loving ourselves as we are, finding our fierce warrior selves.

The force of all of this shows up in so many ways. My friend said this morning “I don’t mind my bigger body but I hate that none of my clothes look good, and I can’t afford to buy new clothes right now.”

Not fitting into my clothes is a big trigger for me, too.  After she said that, I had a warrior moment.  (Well, a warrior moment with a credit card.  I’m privileged in that I can afford this, right now).  I  went on a mission to my favourite store that features affordable Canadian designers.  I decided I was going to leave with a wardrobe of work and dressy casual clothes that made me feel good in my body, felt good on my body, inspired me.  I realized I hadn’t actually bought new warm weather work clothes in about three years, always waiting for that moment when my other clothes would fit me again.

I bought five dresses, two pairs of leggings and two tops.  They fit me well.  They flare and cling in the right places.  I feel strong and pretty in them.  I feel grown up, not middle aged.  (This is Emmylou, checking them out).

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They’re a departure from what I’ve been wearing.  And trying them on, having a good shopping experience, finding things that work for my body as it is — I tilted back up into liking myself again.

I think I’ll go get an ice cream cone.

Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and works in Toronto. She blogs here two or three times a month.

fitness · sleep

Can leaving the light or TV on at night make you gain weight? Shining light on the subject

This week in JAMA Internal Medicine, researchers published an article analyzing the relationship between artificial light at night (which they call ALAN– hi, Alan!) and increased risk of weight gain among women (they used a large cohort of women for the study). They say that exposure to ALAN does increase the risk of weight gain, and “further prospective and interventional studies could help elucidate this association and clarify whether reducing exposure to ALAN can promote obesity prevention.”

In other words:

As you can imagine (or even saw), the popular press was all over this.

What should we make of this? Before reading the study (yes, I read through the original, so you don’t have to), I thought, “of course they’ll find an association between ALAN and weight gain. Light exposure disturbs and disrupts sleep, reduces quality and duration, etc. We know all this can contribute to weight gain.”

But, it turns out that their results are (as usual, in science) really complicated. Here are some of the complex results:

  • The association between ALAN and increased risk of weight gain was stronger for women with lower BMIs (< 25 and <30) than women with higher BMIs (>30);
  • The association between ALAN and increased risk of weight gain was stronger for women who ate healthier diets and for women with increased leisure-time physical activity;
  • Women who slept with no light in the room, who ate a less healthy diet and/or who did less leisure-time physical activity had increased risk for weight gain;

So women who weighed less or who ate more so-called healthy diets or who were more physically active were more at risk for weight gain from light sources while sleeping than those who weighed more, ate less so-called healthy diets, or who were less physically active. Could this be because the added factor of light pales, as it were, in comparison to other potential factors? Reading the details did not shed much light for me here. The researchers also didn’t offer an explanation.

Here’s a less surprising result from the article:

Women with greater exposure to ALAN had higher mean BMI… and were more likely to be non-Hispanic black. They were less likely to have consistent waking and bedtime patterns and more likely to have less sleep, take a longer time to fall asleep, wake up at night, and take naps. They also used less sleep medication.

How we sleep and how we eat are related in a bunch of ways. How we sleep and how our bodies respond are also related in a bunch of ways, which include socio-economic, geographic and other external features outside of individual eating and activity behaviors. Women who sleep less, have less control over their sleep schedules, have regular sleep disruption, but don’t take sleep medication are bound to experience increased stress and other behavioral effects. And we know that black women, according to many sources, are more likely to sleep less and also suffer from sleep disorders (like sleep apnea), even controlling for BMI.

The researchers know this, too, and admitted as much (although they focused on individual factors rather than the social determinants of health, which I think diminishes their analysis):

We were unable to disentangle the temporal relationship between exposure to ALAN and other factors, including unhealthy diet, sedentary lifestyle, stress, and other sleep characteristics. Thus, we cannot exclude the possibility that the association between ALAN and obesity is not causal, despite multivariable adjustment and various sensitivity analyses.

So no, ALAN is not good for us (sorry, Alan!). But the reasons why we sleep with light vary a lot, depending on the constraints and realities of our lives. We may have control over some of these factors, and no control at all over others.

My main takeaway is this: sleeping in darkness is a necessity, but for many of us it’s a luxury we can’t have as often as we might need it. Here’s to blissful darkness for everyone.

Readers, do you sleep in darkness? Do you use a sleep mask? I do. Do you want light in your room when you sleep? Do you have to deal with light sources that you’d rather not? Do light sources provide comfort or company? I’m curious about what your habits are.

fitness

Making room for others

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This is Guðríður Þorbjarnardóttir (Gudridur Thorbjarnardottir), an Icelandic saga hero.  More than 1000 years ago, she was among the first settlers from Iceland to explore and settle in Greenland with Erik the Red.  She then traveled to North America, where she became the mother of the first European child born in North America, Snorri. In her lifetime, she was probably that most traveled woman in the world — she made eight ocean journeys, crossed Europe twice on foot, and explored and settled new lands. During her lifetime, Iceland and Greenland became Christian, and in 1010 she made a pilgrimage to the Pope in Rome, then returned to her son Snorr’s farm in northern Iceland, where she had a church built and ended her life as a nun. (I hope to see her settlement at L’anse aux Meadows National Historic Site when we do our bike trip in Newfoundland in July — you can read more about her here and here).

I came across the statue of Gudridor when I was traveling in Iceland with my niece on the long weekend in May, and she became my instant hero — a woman who clearly embraced life with gusto and courage and defined her own terms.

Coming across Gudridor — feminist traveler — while I was traveling with my almost-13 year old niece made me reflect again on my identity as a solo traveler. I travel alone a lot, literally and throughout my life.  I’ve written and reflected about it a lot, this embracing of the solo that I’ve evolved over the past decade or so.

For a lot of people, traveling alone is the novel, the thing that they are experiencing anew out of busy family lives.  For me, it’s just a given now — a part of my identity that I’ve cultivated and a thing that I seem to really need for restoration, alone time. 

I genuinely have to be reminded that it isn’t the norm for a lot of people.  Back in January, I was in Melbourne, Australia, sitting with my book in a crowded trattoria, happily enjoying a pizza and a glass of wine, when a woman came up to me and said how brave I was — that she would *never* eat in a restaurant alone.

I was truly taken aback.  I didn’t think I looked like I was bravely pretending to read while blinking away lonely tears — I was actually bemused that it was even something anyone would notice about me.  I chalked it up to Aussie extroversion and left it at that.  (I wish I’d had Gudridur to toss into the conversation there as a true example of intrepid-ness.  Not, you know, eating a pizza in an English speaking, super-safe western city).

Traveling alone is easy for me.  It’s comfortable.  It’s flowy.  I can follow my bliss blah blah blah.  (Most often, that bliss is a long bike ride or hike followed by an excellent dinner and bedtime before the sun goes down).  But traveling with my niece, I had to consider whether maybe — just maybe — my foregrounding solo travel (and my joy of living alone) might mean I’m maybe — just maybe — not as good at making room for other people as I could be.

My niece is awesome, and we had a wonderful time.  We made up car games, and co-wrote a long, winding magical story out loud that started with some elves that lived inside a mountain, and we had floating massages in the overpriced but luxe Blue Lagoon.  We hiked up magical mountains where we made wishes, and to waterfalls, and to old lighthouses, some of them in the rain.  We chased the geysirs and made up a song about the baby lambs and laid on the ground revelling in the glory of Kirkjufell mountain and waterfall.  We chased down bakeries in search of excellent bread and doughnuts.

But throughout the trip, even as I was having a great time, I had a little sotto-voce story going on that I wanted to go for a much longer hike, wanted to do more things in a day, wished I had more time to stop and just get lost in this amazing world by myself.  A sense, almost, that our hikes “didn’t count” if they weren’t long enough or push me to my limits.

IMG_7733My niece is, you know, Very Much Her Own Person. (Being a person and all). When I suggested we do a planned hike up a mountain even though it was raining, she just looked at me in genuine disbelief.  The lukewarm promise of a hotspring just wasn’t an allure.  (“Wouldn’t we already be wet?”).  Her rhythms are different than mine — she doesn’t love committing to a long hike while we’re still in the car, but when we landed in places that she liked, she frolicked with absolute joy, lying on the ground, finding every angle, crawling down into holes — and wanting to stay far longer than I normally would have, once I’d dutifully trudged up to the top and back down again.  When she told me to lie down on the ground in front of Kirkjufell and feel — just FEEL!  — how soft it was, something clicked.

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Later, hiking to an abandoned farm in Thingvellir national park, where I planned the hike and was the only one with the map, my niece asked me how far we had to go.  And something clicked again — I was marching this girl along based on my own internal vision of the afternoon, and she was compelled to go along with my rhythms.  I’d tried to pick a route I thought was doable and interesting — but I’d basically been the orchestrator of the whole experience.

Paying attention to my niece’s rhythms made me realize that in most of my life, I have a self-defined rhythm — how fast I walk, when is the “right” time to walk or ride vs. driving, when I want to go to bed, when I want to eat, how long I want to spend on decision-making about where to eat.  I’m very dug in — and highly resistant to following other people’s routines or movement agendas.

Turns out, that’s not really the most relational way to operate.  And it took thinking about that experience from my niece’s perspective to really get how much I tend to either expect people to match my movement agendas, or just withdraw and do things on my own.

I had another pivotal moment when we came across the Gudridur statue.  It was about 5 pm, and we were on our way back to our hotel after a day of exploring the Snaefellsnaes peninsula, getting blown about and generally having a great time.

On this side of the peninsula, it was less windy, and the sun had just come out, the Icelandic golden hour.  Behind Gudridur, there was a beautiful beckoning trail I could have walked on for two or three hours, mostly along the edge of the sea.

If I’d been on my own, this would have been exactly what I did.  But I knew my niece didn’t have it in her (she was tired from our windy walks, and Gudridur did not get her all fired up the way she did me).  I had a pang of regret — I wanted my little Gudridur walk!

But I also had my niece in the car, and we were both hungry.   And I had another instalment of our magical train-making elf saga to make up.  So I got back in the car, waving at Gudridur.

I had been to Iceland once before, by myself for a few days about four years ago. That time, I had a completely self-directed, what-I-feel-like-in-this-moment trip.  I got lost on non-existent trails on the tundra, nearly blew into the ocean on the western tip of the Snaefaellsness peninsula, nearly lost the door of the rental car to wind, drove around the most amazing landscape in the world listening to podcasts and stopping to take photos whenever I felt like it.  And when I got tired of the wind and the rain, cuddled up under a woollen blanket in my favourite inn in the world.

Being in Iceland with my niece, there was less flow and more negotiation. But there was more joy, more singing and more doughnuts.  And we have something shared we both gave to each other.

It’s a lesson.  Aren’t they all?

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Fieldpoppy is Cate Creede, who lives and works in Toronto, and travels around the world with an open heart.

cycling · fitness · Guest Post

Law-breaking commuter (Guest post)

Two incidents with quasi-law enforcement marked my first week back at work, and my first week back squeezing cycling into limited morning hours. I was a little rushed.

On my way to work, I enjoy the recently painted “Corbett Porch,” where street activists brightened the shoulders of two streets. They created a place for people to walk, bike, or sit outside at tables for the local coffee shop. But I’m running late.

Hurray! I learn that my building has a bike room, I have a card key, and there are two shower/changing rooms attached to the bike room. It’s great to park my bike inside because there’s been a rash of bike thefts in town, with thieves using small power tools to cut right through kryptonite-type locks.

To get to the bike room, I walk through double doors, and into an overly long passageway to another set of doors, and down another hall to the bike room door. I’m rushed this morning, so I save time riding my bike inside! The passageway is wide enough to accommodate at least five people riding abreast, in fact, it probably used to be a driveway. There is no one else in this very wide hall. It’s perfectly safe to pedal on through. At the second set of doors, I dismount, and walk the final 30 feet to the bike room.

After I change, I breeze past the elevator security guard with a chipper “Good morning, Scott!” And he says, “Was that you riding your bike inside?”

“Yes,”

“Don’t do it”

“Ok, sorry.” [not sorry ]. Obviously, there was a camera and he is monitoring the feed.

Busted #1!

I get up really early the next morning to beat the Tucson heat, and take a longer ride before work. This ride takes me through the foothills and to Sabino Canyon National Recreation Area, a 3.7 mile paved road open to pedestrians all the time, and cyclists before 9:00 am. So at 7:00 am I’m climbing through the canyon, enjoying the beautiful cliffs and stream and trees and shade. On the way up, I see a volunteer ranger heading downhill on his bicycle, I give him a friendly wave because I am always friendly to quasi-law enforcement.

I reach the top and descend. It’s steep, so without effort, I’m going fast. Ok, so the speed limit is 15 mph, and I know I’m going a little faster than that. Although it is a guesstimate because I have no cyclocomputer. I catch up to the volunteer ranger, and pass him just before the small hill that leads out of the park. I’m going hard uphill, so definitely not more than 15 mph speed limit at this point.

I crest the hill and begin another delicious descent to the exit of the park. The volunteer ranger chases me down and asks me to stop so he can “talk to me for a minute.” He accuses me of going 25 mph, and I want to say “prove it!” but instead say “really? wow.” I’m outwardly repentant, and inwardly “whatever.” And he goes on for too long about hikers complaining, bikes might be banned, etc. And I continue to apologize and when he suggests I get a cyclocomputer, I say I will. I will next year. And now I’m running late again because of volunteer ranger scold.

Busted #2!

Occasionally I will bend laws on my bike; for example, slow rather than stop at stop signs. However, I have been actually stopping at stop signs, putting my foot down, as I commute through neighborhood and university streets.

Have I become an evil scofflaw cyclist? A renegade rider ignoring all rules and laws designed to keep everyone safe? I do have a little of that in me, and it comes out when I see drivers running red lights, car drivers turning in front of me, cars parked in the bike lane. If they’re breaking the law without consequences, why can’t I?

The next week, I’m better organized and not so rushed. I’ve figured out the best route door to door. I can relax a little and enjoy my commute. I take in the scenery and see this great sticker:

I see my city and its beautiful people, from the great vantage point of my bike saddle.

fitness

Friendship, fun movement, and false dichotomies

This weekend’s hot New York Times Health story, Smash the Wellness Industry, appeared multiple times in various social media newsfeeds. A few blog readers and Facebook page followers even messaged me about it. That’s how much up our alley it is.

Here’s a quote from it:

“If these wellness influencers really cared about health, they might tell you that yo-yo dieting in women may increase their risk for heart disease, according to a recent preliminary study presented to the American Heart Association. They might also promote behaviors that increase community and connection, like going out to a meal with a friend or joining a book club. These activities are sustainable and have been scientifically linked to improved health, yet are often at odds with the solitary, draining work of trying to micromanage every bite of food that goes into your mouth.

The wellness industry is the diet industry, and the diet industry is a function of the patriarchal beauty standard under which women either punish themselves to become smaller or are punished for failing to comply, and the stress of this hurts our health too.”

Mostly I liked the message. That story quotes from an older piece in Scientific American about the health benefits of social connections.

“A long lunch out with co-workers or a late-night conversation with a family member might seem like a distraction from other healthy habits, such as going to the gym or getting a good night’s sleep. But more than 100 years’ worth of research shows that having a healthy social life is incredibly important to staying physically healthy. Overall, social support increases survival by some 50 percent, concluded the authors behind a new meta-analysis.

The benefit of friends, family and even colleagues turns out to be just as good for long-term survival as giving up a 15-cigarette-a-day smoking habit. And by the study’s numbers, interpersonal social networks are more crucial to physical health than exercising or beating obesity.”

But that’s a false dichotomy, exercise or social connections. (What’s a false dichotomy,? From Wikipedia: False dichotomy is a dichotomy that is not jointly exhaustive (there are other alternatives), or that is not mutually exclusive (the alternatives overlap), or that is possibly neither.)

For many of us, exercise is a thing we do with friends. It is our way of connecting with others socially. I know very serious athletes train alone following a personalized training plan but that’s not my world. My exercise world is mostly about doing fun physical things with friends.

There is a group of us associated with the blog all training for a long cycling holiday in Newfoundland. We’ll have the time away together but we’re also ramping up our weekend riding. We’re putting kilometers on the bike, stopping for coffee and lunch and mid-afternoon ice cream. Here’s Sarah, David and me.

Samantha, Sarah, and David having second breakfast at a cafe in Hespeler.

While I was out riding with Sarah and David, Susan was out riding with Cate, and Tracy was out at hot yoga + brunch with friends in London. That group’s photos shared on Facebook often make me wish I still lived in London and could go to hot yoga + brunch with Tracy. They look like they’re having fun

Now I will say that my recent knee woes have made me rethink doing all my social activities in the context of sports and working out. I’ve given up soccer and Aikido and I miss those communities so much. I thought that I’d just move and find a new martial arts community but the injured knee can’t take that. Snipe sailing has been a good alternative. It’s outdoors and active and I like the people even if it’s not as physical as the stuff I used to do.

So maybe don’t put all your social connections in one basket. But still, my main point is that social connections don’t compete with physical activity. For the curlers and the golfers and the runners and the cyclists and the derby girls these things definitely go together.

Let’s go for a bike ride, friends!