Let’s start with the sunrise! When I’m in my beach cottage, the sun rises over the water horizon and is a dependable reminder of all we have to be thankful for. Right now it’s combined with the uplifting mood of springtime in Virginia, which is as nice as anywhere on this planet. And remember they’re both for Lovers. Am I a hopeless romantic? Nope. (But only because I’ve never understood that word combination. I mean romantics are hopeful, not hopeless…???)
What’s all that have to do with health and fitness and exercise? Well, by May your New Year’s resolutions have hit reality, but 2019 still has a lot of time left and Spring! is all about starting. So let’s start by getting outside and enjoying this season.
You don’t need a personal trainer or a gym membership or a treadmill or improved nutrition to get started. All that may come later if you choose, but for now, you just need a good pair of walking shoes and a raincoat to get outside and take a nice walk. It doesn’t matter how far or how fast. Does it matter how often? (Hint: I included a raincoat.) As close to daily as you can. Won’t that involve (help!) self-discipline? Most things of value do, so let’s make it pleasant and enjoyable and use it for something you want. How about “to feel better?”
Something as simple as a daily walk has consistently proven to be a mood elevator in addition to improving most measurable health outcomes. Some studies say it takes two months of self-discipline to develop a new habit. I say, and have proven it with many, many folks, it takes just one month of daily input to change a habit. Change means stop or start. For instance, if you want to start the habit of a daily walk, for one month prioritize a time, put on your walking shoes (and your raincoat, if needed), go outside and walk. Walk by yourself for some private time when that appeals, walk with your spouse, with a friend, with your dog… whatever you choose but make it enjoyable. Maybe promise yourself a reward when you finish. I remember when I was running 45 to 50 miles a week I read that it took five miles to offset just one beer. The reply I enjoyed was: “Well, that’s a small price to pay for a good cold beer.” (I’m a sucker for a smart-aleck sense of humor).
Another consideration: with so many health benefits in starting a more active lifestyle (reducing body fat, lowering blood pressure and cholesterol, avoiding diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, etc.), why aren’t more people in the U.S. doing it? Why are we among the least conditioned, most overweight and unhealthy populations? I think it’s access to the most effortless push-button automated lifestyle of abundant food and drink in the history of the human species. Combine that with my profession’s persistent references to the aforementioned future benefits. But the stuff we have to do to get there is now. So it gets put off, delayed, avoided.
What if more proven immediate benefits were focused on? Uplifting our daily mood, more daily energy as a direct result of getting our blood flowing, moving our joints more freely and with less discomfort due to the increase in synovial fluid, etc. You will feel all this the same day you actively do more. For people living such a plentiful life, I think that’s a more inspirational motivator. It’s not just about future benefits.
It feels good! And it’s springtime in Virginia!