MARTHA SEZ: ‘Your cat is still a ravening wild beast, like a timber wolf or a polar bear’

The blackbirds still aren’t here, and I don’t blame them. Maybe during their annual northern migration they got buried under all the snow that fell last week and went into hypothermic shock.

It should take just a couple of sunny days to thaw them out and get them going again.

The first day of spring arrived on Monday, March 20, and if we get a couple of sunny days in a row I expect it will energize the general populace in pretty much the same way.

Once spring comes to the Adirondacks–when we haven’t seen any snow blizzarding down for nearly a week–it is natural for North Country residents to start thinking about getting some exercise.

“My goodness gracious!” you will hear people exclaim. “I have been nesting in my La-Z-Boy recliner with my cat, Herbert, since November. It’s time I get a move on!”

While this is a natural reaction to the first mild days of the season, it must be rigorously suppressed. Physical exercise is, as we know, exceedingly dangerous. You can’t expect to just suddenly get up out of your chair and start doing things. Not without severe repercussions.

You will have noticed by now that your cat, Herbert, is emerging from hibernation. He is no longer so keen to loll around in front of a heat duct while you nod off over your knitting.

“Herbie, come back!” you cry. “Our favorite show is on TV.”

No dice. Even though, after a winter of relative inactivity, he can hardly jump up onto the kitchen counter anymore without immediately falling back off again. Herbert is fiercely determined to get back in shape in order to resume his vocation of killing little animals.

Do not be deluded into thinking that what is good for your cat is all right for you as well. Nothing could be farther from the truth. To look at Herbert you might not know it, but, despite his so-called domestication, your cat is still a ravening wild beast, like a timber wolf or a polar bear. You are not.

Many people, including some misguided medical doctors, will say that physical exercise is good for you. This is astonishing when you consider that these very same MDs treat people for broken bones, concussions, pulled muscles and other injuries resulting from physical activity.

There are some sports enthusiasts, especially here in the North Country, who do not hibernate during the winter months, but actually travel through snow and freezing rain to the mountains, where they practice skiing and ice climbing on purpose.

In addition to exposing themselves to the risks of hypothermia and frostbite, some have suffered rotator cuff injury, seriously messing up their shoulders, while skiing. Others have sustained rotator cuff injury while riding bicycles–or technically by falling off of bicycles–or by throwing or lifting things that are too heavy.

Most of these injuries are caused by sports activities, but they can also be the result of habitual hard or repetitive physical work, which should obviously also be avoided. Who wants to sleep sitting up in a chair for months while recuperating?

Another winter activity is ice skating, which can result in falling through the ice. A similar result may be achieved during ice fishing, when people drive their trucks onto insufficiently frozen bodies of water and sink.

People who are quietly dozing off in their arm chairs may be putting on weight, but they will not be falling through the ice. Something to think about.

What about yoga? you ask. Yoga is known to be a gentle, meditative form of physical exercise that can hurt your knees, rupture your lumbar five spinal disc and tear your thigh muscles. At that point you may be the most flexible, lithe and limbered up person around, for all the good it will do you.

Jogging causes joint and muscle damage, and can bring on plantar fasciitis, which is not political in nature but can become chronic and painful. Even walking, which is probably the best and safest exercise, is not without its dangers. Walking is most dangerous in winter, when there is ice on the ground, so if you get the urge to get moving this spring, walking may be the way to go, always watching out for lingering icy patches.

All in all, spring fever is aptly named. The urge to get up and get going is dangerous indeed.

Next time: spring cleaning, another hazardous aspect of this seasonal malady.

Have a good week.

(Martha Allen lives in Keene Valley. She has been writing for the News for more than 20 years.)

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