Thursday, January 26, 2012

Ranch Aerobics

My wife was raised on a ranch, yet has always had a town job.  Her work can be intellectually and psychologically demanding at times, and her day is not complete without a trip to the gym.  She exercises not only to burn off stress, but to keep herself fit and trim.  She often encourages me to go with her.
Now I’ll admit that the sight of all those taut, spandex-clad bodies would raise my heart-rate, but I get all the exercise I need without leaving the ranch.  This time of year it is feeding that keeps me in shape.  I load the pickup twice every morning, with thirty-four 75-pound bales.

That is two series of 34 reps each of both squats and curls.  And there are plenty of presses on the higher tiers, and the occasional clean and jerk.  When you figure in all the pushing, pulling, and re-adjusting, plus the cutting and pushing off each of those sixty-eight bales, I have exercised most of my muscles.

And it is aerobic.  Each load on the pickup doubles both my heart-rate and respiratory rate – not for the 3 times a week recommended by the American Heart Association, but twice a day, seven days a week!

As for stretching, I get that too.  It’s a stretch for me to climb onto a load of hay on a moving pickup.  And I often stretch to reach bales on the stack.  Any time I get on my half-Thoroughbred Kentucky Colt is quite a stretch for me!

Step-aerobics is mostly covered when I’m farming and haying: a guy is constantly up and down the steps of the tractor to move it up an inch, or back a little bit, or up or down to get lined  up with an implement.  And likewise up and down the steps of the baler to check the length and tension on the bales.

And then if a guy is desperate for exercise, there are always horses to shoe and posts to set.  If you think weight-lifting is work, try lifting that 25-pound digging bar for an hour, first getting the rocks and dirt out of the hole, then tamping it back in again.

Most modern ranchers, however, miss out on a lot of exercise.  Those big round bales require only a tug on the hydraulic lever.  (But notice that those guys who feed big round bales all have big round bellies.)

No thanks.  I don't need a gym.  As long as I live on a ranch I won’t have to pay to get my exercise.

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