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Laura on Life

No Pain, No Gain
By Laura Snyder
Jul 16, 2012 - 9:10:11 PM

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Women of a certain age should not paddle canoes. At least, that's what my body said.

While my body screamed for mercy the day after a canoeing expedition -- which lasted barely an hour -- my mind valiantly fought for rational thought.

Calmly, through a web of aching muscles, my mind counted all the times when I was younger that I exercised parts of my body that were not accustomed to it. At that time, I accepted the pain for what it was. And what it was not, was a symptom of getting older.

No, my mind said, I had those same aches and pains when I was a teenager after a nine-hour bicycle trip (which is something I wouldn't even consider now). I would think, "Ooh, that hurts. I must get more padding on that seat next time." (Next time??) I did not think, "What are you doing, lady? You're too old to be peddling around on a bike for nine hours!" Sometimes I'm mean to myself.

The difference seems to be that I now have a convenient excuse not to over-exercise. I'm not lazy, I'm simply getting older.

And... I'm lying to myself. The fact that I can, indeed, paddle a canoe and not hurt until the next day says I'm not too old to paddle a canoe. The pain the next day is just my body letting me know what it thinks of my decision.

Some say that if I don't want to ache after paddling a canoe, I have to do it more often. This has never made sense to me and is the problem I have with every exercise.

They are saying, "It's going to hurt unless you do it more... which will hurt." Somewhere, a higher power is giggling about this conundrum. To make matters worse, at some point, we have convinced ourselves that all that hurting is good for us.

Obviously, paddling a canoe gives me way too much time to think.

I digress...

On barely functioning limbs I hobbled to my medicine cabinet to get the little white miracle pills, better known as aspirin. Doctors say you are not supposed to take aspirin every day. It could cause stomach problems. They also say you should exercise every day.

Apparently, there is a conspiracy afoot to create a pathetically paralyzed public. You should exercise and hurt yourself daily because it's good for you, but you shouldn't take aspirin daily because it's bad for you. Who wrote these rules and how did they get it through Congress?

I'm so confused, I'm thinking about boycotting exercise altogether. The question is: Does paddling a canoe constitute exercise? It hurt, so... yes. But I enjoyed it, so... no.

Okay, so I'm boycotting all exercise except that which I enjoy.

It would be best not to test my conviction on this. I usually enjoy it until the pain starts. If I'm in a canoe in the middle of a lake when the pain starts, I'm going to be in the middle of the lake for a long time... thinking. And you can see where that has gotten me.

Laura Snyder is a nationally syndicated columnist, author & speaker. You can reach Laura at Or visit her website for more info.

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