Pickleball Points

You can find dozens of articles about getting in shape, but this is how to get out of shape: While a deadly virus bangs on your windows, trying to get into the house, you just need to sit on the couch and binge-watch movies on television. Coke and potato chips help significantly to overcome the boredom.

It is the exact same as my sitting around after knee- or hip-replacement surgery, allowing my body to heal. I packed on 10 pounds per surgery, and when I finally got the green light to begin working out, it was difficult. On the day after the doctor gave me the OK, I got dressed in my fanciest training outfit and took off in the morning for a workout as I remembered my last workouts before surgery.

I took the same route as I used to take and within a quarter of mile, a burning sensation in my chest forced me to stop. In fact, I went to the doctor because I thought I now had a heart problem. I was so concerned that I purchased a new high-tech watch that tracks my heartbeats per minute (BPM), and it will send a direct SOS to 911 should I fall on the ground. With the watch, I can monitor in real time how many BPMs each exercise is creating.

Guess what happened? When I lost 10 pounds, my BPM in each exercise session did not spike, and I no longer had to stop. However, I suspect that if I carried a 10-pound bag of potatoes with me today on the same route, I would have to stop after a quarter-mile. Why? Because that’s the same as carrying that excess weight within your body.

That was the good news. But my watch also estimates calories burned in my workout sessions. When I finally got past the quarter-mile chest burn and walked four times as far, I had burned a hundred calories — 100 lousy calories for all that work!

I was exhausted when I finished, and went directly to the refrigerator and opened a Coke, grabbed a bag of potato chips and sat in front of the television. I called up the calculator app on my watch and proudly looked at my hundred-calorie burn smiling at me from my watch face. Then, I input one Coke into the watch application, and I not only had executed my hundred-calories burn, but now I was 40 calories behind. When I added the calories in the chips, I was down 500 calories. If I worked out like this every day, I would add a pound per week — 50 a year!

When I spoke with Bob Cairo and mentioned my experience, he drew attention to an even greater problem. Bob knows so many of the pickleballers in this part of the country because he is the guy we all go to before and after surgery, for physical therapy. Bob’s concern is that as we pickleballers sit around putting on weight and not exercising, many are going to have the same experience I had.

He pointed out that my painful Achilles injury after my second knee surgery was possibly a result of excess weight and poorer conditioning from sitting around. This virus epidemic will eventually pass, and Bob wants all of us to begin stretching and strengthening programs now, as well as aerobic conditioning by machines or walking.

Bob has offered, at no charge, to help anyone adopt a program if they have questions. He is available by phone at Tidewater Physical Therapy in Ocean View.

As I was writing this article, a doctor came on television and reminded me that the chemicals released in our bodies by exercise help combat the deadlier effects of COVID-19. I know personally that exercise helps me combat painful arthritis, but I didn’t realize it also would held me defend against the deadlier aspects of this highly contagious virus, should I get it.

For your own good, please take advice from my experience. Remember: Drink water with lemon; overweight and no exercise is a venom.

Vaughn “The Baron” Baker is a Senior Olympics gold-medalist in pickleball, and is public relations director for the First State Pickleball Club (FSPC) and captain of the Ocean View Crew pickleball community. He spent his career working with top tennis professionals while working for Wilson Sporting Goods and introducing the Prince Tennis Racket and Wimbledon Tennis Lines. For more information, visit PickleballCoast.com.