Several Minnesotans, middle-aged and older, responded to a query online about the challenges of staying active, and how, in some cases, they’ve adapted:
I am 58 years old, which I don’t think is that old, but have had a couple injuries the past two years that have caused me to make some changes. I have been a runner since high school, but had to stop for recovery last year after a partial hamstring tear. The year before that I hurt my lower back, which caused me to stop biking for a while. While not doing those two favorite activities, I picked up hiking. (My husband and I have) done hikes which are long and often strenuous and challenging but we can do it! We can still walk!
Anne Rykken, St. Paul
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I slowly began transitioning over the course of the last several years from a more-active to a less-active outdoor experience. A few years back, (my wife and I) bought a Kevlar canoe, which is only about half the weight of our original fiberglass canoe. That has helped a lot. We also purchased bent-shaft paddles, which make paddling more efficient. Lastly, we stay local or only go on day trips into places like the Boundary Waters and camp on the periphery.
Our tent has gotten bigger. It’s now an easy-to-erect wall tent (OzTent) with a big vestibule. And while sleeping on the ground has never been a problem, shrugging into pants while lying on the ground in a backpacking tent is pretty difficult. So we use cots with our insulated air mattresses and sleeping bags — makes it much easier to get dressed and to pull on boots. The big vestibule allows us to take a couple of folding camp chairs and a tiny folding table so we can cook indoors if necessary in bad weather. If we camp when it is cold out and there is electricity, we take along an outdoor electrical cord and a small ceramic heater.
Gordon Dietzman, Roseville
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Approaching 40, I am starting to find some things harder than they used to be, and I have a back injury that requires me to be thoughtful about what and how I carry my gear. With my back injury and as I age, I’ve learned to focus a lot more on minimalist packing. I’m more willing to pay for ultralight gear or go without items as opposed to carrying them. Instead of not doing certain activities, I adjust my pace (you know, hike my own hike). When hiking the Inca Trail recently, there were certainly younger hikers who hiked faster than me, but I didn’t let that get to me. I do more strength and endurance training. The younger version of me would just muscle through it, but now I invest time in training for long hikes, kayaking or cycling trips. I’m much more particular about how I fuel my body when doing long-distance hikes now than I was when I was younger. I know I need protein, coffee and minimally processed food. It’s amazing what an impact that has on my energy and endurance on the trail.
Susan Gleissner, Minneapolis
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At 66, I bought a lightweight cot. It makes a significant difference for me. That’s my only adjustment so far, and I continue to paddle, portage and hunt as I have done before. I was already using a deer cart and toboggan for hauling deer out, so dragging has never been an issue for me.
If I still lived in the Pacific Northwest, or moved to the Rockies, I’d own a pack llama or two.
Charles Ek, Duluth
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At 54, I’ve already felt my age, either on the length, intensity, or recovery time from strenuous activities. I’ve started planning shorter hikes, for example. I’m not sure we will ever plan a six-day backpacking trip. In addition to the miles each day … carrying your gear, the miles just plain stack up. Plus with multiple nights sleeping on the ground outdoors, where it’s always too cold or too hot, the cumulative hours of sleep deprivation take their toll. In terms of cycling, I’m starting to realize that riding a century ride might not ever happen. Part of that is it’s just a long ride, part is that it’s difficult to find the time to both put in the miles, plus the recovery time. I just run out of time.
Charlie Thomas, Plymouth
Compiled by Jeff Moravec for the Star Tribune