Last week I had company visiting from the Midwest. On previous visits, we had explored the tourist attractions of the greater peninsula and Astoria areas, and traveled down the Oregon coast as far as Manzanita.

This time we ventured farther abroad, spent some time atop the Space Needle, attended a Mariner’s game, and ended up in Hood River, Oregon, a lovely little town nestled deep in the Columbia River Gorge about 50 miles east of Portland.

According to those in the know, Hood River is THE Windsurfing Capital of the World.

So I learned about booms and masts and centerboards, uphauling, water starts, tacking, jibing, and planing. Planing is particularly desirable, as the tip of the board rises slightly so that it glides over the surface of the water rather than plowing through it.

I spent two days watching and talking to windsurfers from all over the country, and as far away as Argentina. Many of them were well into their 50s and 60s and all appeared to be having a great time, regardless of how many spills they took. As one senior gentleman from Colorado said with a huge smile, “This sure beats the heck out of lying on the couch watching TV.”

The majority of those who go joyfully into middle age seem to be those who continue to be active, who learn new skills, who test and explore their physical limitations and often push beyond what they previously thought possible. Whether it be windsurfing, snowboarding, golfing, swimming, bicycling, power-walking, or even kite flying, physically challenging ourselves on a regular basis apparently keeps our spirits and our bodies young.

So what if the key to healthy longevity turns out to be directly related to flexibility and mobility? What if the key to middle-aged happiness corresponds proportionately to turning off the TV and getting your butt off the couch? What if you could have fewer aches, pains, and general health complaints by regularly being more physically active?

Which now brings us to the real question: What will YOU do this month to feel the wind beneath your wings?