One of my goals for 2020 is to exercise more. As a result, I find myself spending more time than ever on the computer.

Sure, I realize that spending hours on the computer is not gong to take one ounce of fat off my body, which already has considerably more lard than it should for my health. In fact, it has just the opposite effect by causing me to spend too much time sitting at my computer exercising my fingers and nothing else.

However, that is if you count physical exercise as the only kind of exercise that has healthy benefits.

I do most of my physical exercise at the Ashland Area YMCA, and I admit that is not as easy to do as it used to be. Because of a variety of health problems, I admit that I do not move as well as I used to, and my mobility is deteriorating more rapidly than I hoped it would. Because of problems with my balance and other issues, I no longer go anywhere without my cane or walker. I am so slow that no one wants to walk with me, and I have fallen more times than I care to count in recent months.

However, two things I can still do is ride the stationary bikes at the YMCA and go to the swimming pool. In the water, I can do things that I am no longer able to do on dry land, and I probably should spent more time in the pool. However, I am too lazy to do so.

If I go to the pool, I have to change into a swimming suit and put my clothes back on when I am finished. That takes more time than I want to spend on most days. I can dress at home in the clothes I need for riding and be pedaling away just minutes after arriving at the Y. And on the bike, I can read on my Kindle while I pedal. It is not unusual for be to burn more than 200 calories and read several chapters on whatever book I have downloaded on my Kindle. That way I am exercising my body and my mind at the same time. What can be better than that?

When I am at the computer, I am not exercising my body, but I am exercising my mind. Since one of my doctors has told me that I am already showing early stages of dementia, exercising my mind now as become every bit as important to me as exercising the rest of my body. No — make that more important. I have never been fast or athletic. When I played golf, others were willing to play with me because they knew I was someone they could beat.

Dad used to call me cabbage, a term he got from the book ''So Big." Unlike wheat, corn and other cash crops that have multiple uses, only the head was good on cabbage. While Dad knew I was strong and a hard worker, he knew early on that I would be far more successful if I used more of my head and less of my body. And so I did.

Now that I am in my 70s and no longer go to the newspaper daily and use my head, I now try to read at least a book a week. I can read on the bike but not in the swimming pool. That's why I spend more time on the bike than in the pool.

I work two crossword puzzles a day on the computer, do the Daily Jumble and play other word games. I also play Scrabble on the computer. All this takes time, but I consider it as exercising my mind while it still is reasonably sharp.

I have always loved word games, which should surprise no one since I spent my entire adult life writing. In fact, one of my favorite games used to be Boggle, but then too many friends got too tired of losing to me and I had trouble finding someone to play.

I recognize I am not as sharp as I used to be, but I still think I can beat just about anyone in Scrabble. To balance this out, I once lost a game of Putt-Putt golf to my then 5-year-old granddaughter — and I was trying to win.

My late mother used to criticize me for "wasting" so much time working crosswords. Then she read an article that said crossword puzzles were a great way to avoid getting Alzheimer’s. After that, she gave me dozens of crossword puzzle books.

When I work my puzzles each morning, I tell myself and others that I am exercising my mind to keep from losing it, but deep in my heart I know the real reasons i that I love to work the puzzles. If they keep my mind sharp, well, that's just an added benefit.


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