Want to get in shape? Think like a dog!

During a recent bout of bad weather I finally figured out the exercise game system we gave ourselves for Christmas.

During a recent bout of bad weather I finally figured out the exercise game system we gave ourselves for Christmas.

While I miss the fresh air and wildlife sightings at least the living room doesn’t have any snow or ice.

And I don’t have to wear mittens. Or deal with my eyelashes freezing shut. A predicament that can be very annoying, especially when you hear a semi coming towards you at high speed.

Or even worse, the sound of something crashing towards you through the nearby bush. It could be an enraged moose, a bear driven from hibernation by hunger or simply a beaver felling a tree — with your eyelashes frozen together you just don’t know.

With the gaming system it’s kind of nice to jog along a path flanked by green grass, flowers and waterfalls, even if it is computer generated.

Turns out I do a pretty mean slalom run too.  While there is plenty of computer-generated snow on the game’s ski slope, at least my eyelashes never freeze shut. You should see me zigzag through those gates!

The ski jump is a different story. All you have to do is crouch and then stand tall at the right moment, but I can’t seem to get the hang of it. It always ends with my poor avatar rolling down the slope in a giant snowball with nothing but her little poles and ski tips sticking out.

Speaking of avatars, our son and his girlfriend made avatars of themselves for our system when they were up visiting, which it now uses indiscriminately.

This means I‘ll be hurrying my own look-alike avatar along a sunny path when suddenly a familiar looking character will run up beside me and wave. At first it gave me a bit of a turn. I was struck by how familiar the avatar looked but couldn’t quite figure out why. And then it clicked. Hey, those are the kids!

I started looking forward to seeing them during my workout in a strange futuristic sort of way. Someone even made an avatar of Cosmo, our dog, but since I can see her anytime I want by just turning my head it doesn’t pack the same sort of thrill. I considered creating an avatar of my other son so we could all go for family runs together, but then I started worrying I was getting a little odd.

That maybe I was developing some sort of high-tech cabin fever.

Back in the real world Cosmo the dog is not impressed with watching her avatar bounce along virtual trails. Cosmo lives for her walks and only the outdoor kind will do.  Every time I walk within 10 feet of the door she sprouts coils out her paws and starts bouncing around the room. If I have to get something out of the container that we keep her leash in I have to do so with all the stealth and cunning of a secret agent lest she hears the noise and comes skidding around the corner.

When Cosmo sees me reaching for her leash she reacts like she just won the lottery. It took days of training to teach her to sit still so I could snap the lead to her collar.  Before that it was like trying to hook a fish during a tsunami.

When it’s really cold we only go to the end of the driveway and back, which is a quarter of a mile round trip. This does not please Cosmo at all. If our walk is less than a full mile — and she prefers two — Cosmo throws herself into a sulk for the rest of the day.

Dogs and people are sure different in their attitude towards exercise.

If the situation were reversed the dog would be trying to take the human for a walk every half hour and the human would be hiding under the couch chewing on the remote control.

Maybe the secret to active living is simply to approach our daily exercise the same way a dog does. Instead of all the groaning and guilt we should be bouncing around the room thinking, “I can’t wait to go for a walk. Ooooh, I hope I go for a walk. I hope it’s a really, really, long walk. Oh the things that I will sniff! The things that I will see! The things on which I’ll pee!”

Well, perhaps it would be best if we didn’t think exactly like a dog, but you get my point.

Shannon McKinnon is a humour columnist from the Peace River country.  You can read more of her writing by visiting www.shannonmckinnon.com.