Getting Exercise in a Little House

Posted July 29th, 2014 by kerri and filed in small house living
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If you’re over 40 and intend­ing on down­siz­ing to a lit­tle house, there is an often over­looked down­side to small space liv­ing: Getting plenty of exer­cise to keep your bones and mus­cles strong.

When we lived in our split level 1,100 square foot home in the city, I had no prob­lem get­ting exer­cise. I’d climb the stairs it seemed a mil­lions times a day. If I wanted some­thing when I was down­stairs, it was usu­ally upstairs and visa versa.

Getting into our house required climb­ing stairs, which gave us plenty of “Stair Master” type exer­cise, espe­cially when lug­ging heavy gro­ceries. Of course, clean­ing gave me lots of exer­cise, as did run­ning up and down the stairs of our tall deck.

I was also more con­scious of tak­ing the dogs for daily walks in the city as our large dog, Emma, needed lots of exer­cise and we had a pretty small backyard.

When we moved to Our Little House in 2007, I was in pretty good shape. I got myself up to walk­ing 4 miles per day, even in the heat of sum­mer. After los­ing my mother that year, I felt as if I was sweat­ing the grief out of my pores, so the more I walked, the bet­ter I felt – phys­i­cally and mentally.

But when I started hav­ing prob­lems with Plantar Fasciitis a cou­ple of years ago, I really got out of the habit of even doing my 2 mile walks per day, then I started hav­ing prob­lems with my blood pres­sure and even­tu­ally, with bal­ance, which caused a cou­ple of nasty falls. It took months for my feet and ankles to heal from those.

As I’ve pointed out many times as well, I just don’t have to spend the time clean­ing that I did in the city. There is no huge kitchen floor to mop and no large Kirby vac­uum to haul up and down the stairs.

Put that together with my age (I joined Club 50 in December) and I weak­ened pretty quickly. My friend, Sheryl Kraft, a health writer who focuses on boomer issues, says that women lose about ½ pound of mus­cle per year after age 40, more if she’s not active.

After read­ing her post, How Exercise can Preserve your Muscles (and much more), I real­ized that some of the weak­ness and bal­ance issues I was expe­ri­enc­ing may not have all been caused by my blood pres­sure meds (which I am now off of), but some of it was most likely due to lack of exercise.

Earlier this month on our anniver­sary, we went to a kayak­ing class and I was thor­oughly embar­rassed when I could not only get out of the kayak the “approved” way, but my weak­ened hip gave out and I had to lit­er­ally slide out of the boat and sit on my butt to get foot­ing with my good leg. I just hope no one was tak­ing video with their cam­era phone and post­ing it to YouTube.

The next week­end, we took our fish­ing boat out and I couldn’t get in it with­out a boost from Dale.

I’m back at it now, walk­ing at least 2 miles a day with the dogs, doing leg bends and lift­ing weights while watch­ing tele­vi­sion at night.

My mother prac­ticed yoga until she was in her mid-50s. She always said as she grew weaker when she aged that she wished she had kept at it for bet­ter strength and bal­ance. I’m also going to start prac­tic­ing some yoga bends that will help me con­tinue to strengthen my back (it was injured in a rear end car wreck over 20 years ago).

So, heads up Living Largers over 40, you may not get the exer­cise doing every­day activ­i­ties you once did in a larger home. A con­sci­en­tious effort for exer­cise should be in your down­siz­ing plan.

Have you thought about the exer­cise you get now in a larger home (or got) and taken into con­sid­er­a­tion you may get less by liv­ing in a smaller space?


6 Responses to “Getting Exercise in a Little House”

  1. Mark Hagberg says:

    I think about the exer­cise as you talked about. I am in my 50's and want to down­size. The tiny House move­ment has me in it's spell. I have always thought about it and now think it is the path for me. Space it not a prob­lem it is the lay­out but I will let you know how it goes

    • Kerri says:

      Please do let us know how it goes, Mark, and don't hes­i­tate to ask the com­mu­nity any ques­tions you may have!

  2. We have a pretty big house with two stair­cases and I climb them both every day. Just clean­ing and dust­ing one floor can give me a pretty good work­out. But my favorite exer­cise by far is horse­back rid­ing. I have a Tennessee Walking horse that I try to ride at least three times a week. And don't let any­body tell you that rid­ing a horse isn't exer­cise– if you don't use just about every mus­cle in your body doing it, then you aren't doing it right! My daugh­ter com­peted on hunter jumpers for ten years, and I spent a lot of time watch­ing peo­ple ride while wait­ing for her to fin­ish lessons and/or train­ing. I saw women who were prob­a­bly up in their sev­en­ties, hoist­ing them­selves onto high spir­ited thor­ough­breds and rid­ing around the ring, jump­ing over four foot jumps with ease. They were with­out excep­tion: thin, ath­letic and had to be strong to han­dle horses of that cal­iber. It really made an impres­sion on me, because I want to be able to ride even in old age, and I saw that it can be done if some­one stays in shape and works at it. Glad that you are once again able to pick up your walk­ing habit, and I applaud you for doing the kayak­ing despite a bad hip. I think embar­rass­ment keeps a lot of women from going to the gym or the swim­ming pool or even just out­side to walk. We need to get over that kind of body self con­scious­ness and just get out there and do our thing! :-)

    • Kerri says:

      Oh, yes, horse­back rid­ing is def­i­nitely good exer­cise, you're work­ing almost all of your mus­cles. You keep at it, too!

  3. Kerri says:

    LOL! You just might have to do that, Pamela. Wow, that will be a challenge.

  4. Pamela says:

    I worry about get­ting enough aer­o­bic exer­cise when we move aboard a boat. I'm think­ing I'll have to get over my fear of heights so I can climb the mast.