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Being active counts
March 18, 2014 - Dawn Bliss
The likelihood of being mistaken for an athlete of any sort is minimal, and there is even less of a chance that the adjective of speedy would ever be applied to my running pace. Still, as it turns out my routine ventures to the gym count for something.
A recent Gallop poll determined that 51.3 percent of Iowa’s residents reported exercising three times a week or more. So that’s half of us while the other half is probably just watching the more ambitious truck around the track.
Personally, I trudge along so slowly that it’s a bit ambiguous as to which half I fall in with. What is very clear, however, is that the folks who participate in the biathlon class at the Fort Dodge Community REC Center on First Avenue North most definitely count among the active. They voluntarily submit at least twice a week to intense pedaling in a cycling class interspersed with periodic spurts of running on the track. The session of cross-training goes for more than an hour and leaves its participants sweaty and sore.
“It’s probably one of the best classes here,” said Kylie Berning, a member of the front desk staff at the REC and a recent class participant. “It’s terrible, but it is so good.”
Sounds like a bit of a conflicting review, but maybe that’s due to the lack of oxygen to the brain many experience during the workout. I mean, you should hear the huffing and puffing. Still, their faces glow and they bounce about with eagerness when they talk about the next session. All the exertion may initially seem too intense, but Berning said the class teaches you not to cheat yourself. You give it all you can and in the end that is what is so satisfying.
You also get physically fit in the process.
“It builds a lot of endurance,” Berning said. “The more you do it, the faster you’ll be able to go and the longer you will be able to do it. It’s all based on your abilities. Begin easy, but you’ll get better so fast you won’t need to go that slow ever again.”
If the biathlon class seems a bit too active for you at the moment, another option to ease into exercise is to register for community events such as the Hy-Vee Half & 5K Fun Run planned for April 5. Berning is in training for the half-marathon, but she said the 5K, which is 3.1 miles, is a viable option for people who may not be ready to pound out 13.1. In fact, 5Ks are actually a great way to get started in running and jogging without undue pressure to perform.
“You can walk it or jog it,” Berning said, “just as long as you finish it and have fun.”
Many of the events are also fundraisers, like the Hy-Vee Half & 5K which is raising money to help the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Another upcoming event is the March of Dimes March for Babies April 26, which raises money for research and information to help mothers deliver full-term babies.
Joining in these sorts of events not only benefits the charitable organizations that receive pledges and entry fees, it also gets people on their feet and moving which benefits their overall health. It also feeds into the fitness and shape of the nation. The same Gallop poll that found half of all Iowans were not moving, also found that compared to last year an overall decrease had happened nationally in the number of people who exercised. Fun runs, with their costumes, party-like atmospheres and finish line treats, can hopefully help counter this tide.
Whether speedy or sluggish, simply being active counts.