The miracle isn’t that I finished. The miracle is that I had the courage to start.
~ John “the Penguin” Bingham
Courage to start.
Whether you are 40 or 80, the secret to living well and beautifully is to keep moving. Let’s start with your daily activities. These three questions about your everyday life will help you gauge how much you move in the course of a day. Answer each question every day for a week to learn how much you really move.
1.There are over six hundred muscles in the human body; how many have you used today?. (It’s OK to take a guess.)
2.How far have you walked today?
3.How many flights of stairs have you climbed today?
These questions deal with everyday life and “use it or lose it”applies. The less you move each day, the less you will be able to move each day. We’ve all known someone who develops a health problem that curtails movement or activity. In addition to all the other consequences, diminished activity can lead to weight gain, which worsens the original problem and perhaps causes others – you get the idea. The downward spiral is tough to break.
The good news is that you can start where you are and either enhance or begin to regain your mobility. The more you move each day, the more you will be able to move as the days and weeks fly by. Posture improves, skin begins to glow, you feel good, and you look forward to physical activity, including in the bedroom.
The big but is having the courage to start and the perseverance to stick with it.
It is no accident that right after New Year’s resolutions are made and women and men flock to membership gyms to sign up. Many sign a year’s contract in a fit of good intentions.
“What?” you say? “How will the gym handle all these new members? The dirty little secret is that the best of intentions begin to fade by Valentine’s Day, and some new members never show up at all.
Some observations for each of the three questions:
1.No matter how many muscles you think you use each day, trust me, you don’t. Do you make a habit of standing stork-like on one foot each day? If not, you’re missing some. Does lower back pain plague you after the occasional day spent canoeing or in the garden? Don't be conscious of your muscles only when they pain you -- become conscious of all your muscles and the need to keep them all working well.
2.The key to learning how far you walk each day is a pedometer! If you use an iPod when you walk or run, Nano iPods now have a pedometer function. Or use this rule of thumb: 2000 steps per mile at a 2.5 foot stride length. Count every day for a week and calculate your daily average. If your average count is 3000 steps per day, you are walking about 1.5 miles per day. Then step it up by 500 steps per week until you reach 10,000 steps. Guess what? You’ll be walking 5 miles per day! You’ll burn calories, sleep better, strengthen your bones, reduce stress – the list of benefits goes on and on.
3.Stair climbing. Do you live in a ranch style house? Then you don’t have an in house way to bump up the benefit of your walking. If you’ve ever walked or run at sea level and then attempted the same effort and distance in hill country or mountains, you know the difference. You’ll need a stair stepper at home or in the gym to duplicate the benefits of a walk-up apartment or multistory house!
It really is all about getting off the couch and showing up at the starting line.