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Americans spend billions of dollars on medications for every real or imagined malady, and yet the best cure is free.

Public beach at Point Defiance park, WA. (Hadi Dadashian photo)

It’s such a rough way to exercise, walking by water: South Puget Sound, WA. (Hadi Dadashian photo)


We’re not a country that loves it — check our skyrocketing obesity rate.

Yet on my self-imposed “boot camp” this week, I’m seeing lots of overweight people pumping along the trails.  This encourages me, because living in America is sometimes still a culture shock.  (Have you seen the grocery aisles here?)

I’m encouraged by all the obese young people on these trails, hiking alone with only their earbuds for company, or giggling in groups of teens determined to stay fit.  We trade smiles; we nod in recognition; and keep moving.

I’m encouraged too by all the couples, especially elders, walking an almost 3-mile loop every day, sometimes more than once.

I’m impressed by all the soldiers — men and women — straining in our 85˚heat, with heavy packs on their backs and combat boots on their feet, running in civilian shorts and T-shirts.  They run so swiftly, they pass us as they double and redouble the longest trails.

We’re fortunate to have such incredible public space, next to water.  I know my fitness routine is made easier by the scenery and the temperate climate.  (It’s why I don’t have to pay gym fees — at least until the rainy season.)

I know my stamina and my mood are boosted when I see so many neighbors with their pets, their children, their parents, and their friends, exercising at day’s end.

I’m up to 7 miles … and happily joining this part of America in staying fit.  I am truly grateful for every step, and for the public space in the Pacific Northwest that makes exercise such a joy.