Strength for Life

by Alison McIrvin
Debbie skiing and smiling at the camera

On any given weekend, summer or winter, you can find Debbie Budwig fully enjoying all the gems that the Idaho outdoors have to offer. During wintertime, cross country skiing is her sport of choice; and in the summertime, mountain biking, hiking, and extended backpacking trips fill Debbie’s calendar.

Debbie’s parents introduced her to downhill skiing in elementary school, and she cross-country skied and ran track and cross country in high school and college. She also taught aerobics throughout and after college, so fitness was a commitment early on in Debbie’s adult life.

However, while in graduate school in her late 20s and early 30s, finding time to stay active was more of a challenge. The weight began to creep on, and the stress of starting a career was taking its toll.

[Related: Get Moving to Manage Stress]

Debbie began to run again, using occasional fun runs as her motivation, and found opportunities for the occasional backpacking trip. When she met a group of women from work who wanted to take up the sport, mountain biking became her new passion. They scheduled rides each week and went on many group biking trips.

Debbie poses at a city viewpoint with her mountain bike
Mountain biking is Debbie’s passion.

Debbie saw the weight begin to fall off and her stress levels lower! Working out with family and friends made it fun and helped in setting goals — so much so that Debbie has continued with all of these activities into her 50s.

“I now have strength exercises for life.”

A pulled calf muscle about a year ago sidelined Debbie for around eight weeks. The silver lining to the injury: eight weeks of physical therapy focusing on her calves, hips, and core.

Debbie now does core strengthening and flexibility exercises three times a week to maintain her muscle strength. “I learned that if I want to continue to do the activities that I am doing at my age, I need to keep up my muscle strength,” she explained. “I now have strength exercises for life.”

[Related: How Muscles Change With Aging]

Hacks that keep Debbie motivated:

Debbie wears medals won in a race
Fun runs help motivate Debbie to stay active.

Debbie sees how the exercises are helping her enjoy the sports that she wants to take part in year-round. Once she retires, Debbie would love to try a class such as pilates. Until then, it seems that her “strength for life” approach is working!

How do you maintain your foundational strength and flexibility?

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