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Maintaining the momentum

Peer support is a powerful
influence, especially when it comes to health. Studies show that maintaining
motivation and consistency is easier if your buddies also value healthy
activities and lifestyles.

Jim Cooper, Bryan Kroeker,
and Jeff Wallin all farm in western Nebraska, but that’s not all they have in

They’re also runners. Cooper
and Kroeker farm near Grant; Wallin farms in nearby Imperial. The three don’t
work out together, but they often see each other at local running events.

“It’s a huge advantage to
have a training partner,” says Jonathan Beverly, an Imperial, Nebraska, runner
and editor of Running Times. “It helps immensely to have somebody who shares
your interest and who can encourage you.”

Beverly has been running for
30 years and is well known at marathon events. He met Cooper while teaching a
running class that Cooper attended. Beverly also helps to coach local high
school cross country and track teams.

Beverly knows that running
isn’t for everyone. “But running as an exercise for a farmer makes a lot of
sense,” he says. “Every Labor Day my community has an auction and there are 20
types of exercise equipment for sale that people bought, and never used. If you
run, you don’t need equipment or an expensive gym membership to get a good

Where does a farmer find an
exercise buddy? Beverly says you don’t have to look too far. “For the past 33
years, Chase County Fair has sponsored a 5K, 10K, and 1-mile run,” he says. “Grant
has had a Fourth of July run for eight years. Almost any community in the U.S.
today sponsors a fun run, and you’ll see people you know who participate and
would welcome a training partner. Training for one of these runs gives you a
reason to get started exercising and an end goal.”

Motivation is key

Wallin began running several
years ago to stay in shape. During hectic planting and harvest seasons, he
often can run only later at night.

Kroeker found that running
helped him to recover his strength and endurance after a life-threatening brush
with West Nile virus in 2007.

Cooper wanted to get back in
shape after an ATV incident. “I don’t talk about running unless people ask,” he
says. “Usually I get the comment it’s bad for your knees. What was really bad
for my knees was being 30 pounds overweight.”

Don’t overlook your spouse
as an exercise buddy. Lynda Cooper and Pat Kroeker are also runners.

“Even if you only work out
together once a week, it keeps you accountable,” Beverly says. “Someone knows
your goals, and time passes more quickly.”

Finally, a training partner
also helps to absorb the occasional neighborly ribbing.

“Farmers respect toughness,”
Beverly says. “Underneath the jokes often is a respect for the discipline of

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