When I think about running, I imagine lacing up ultra-light-weight shoes (probably bright pink) and wearing some stylish running clothes with a slimming stripe down the side which matches my shoes, of course. Then I’d choose a playlist with a beat to keep me moving at a good pace and make me feel happy. Have shoes, will run!
Reality check – I’m not a runner. I’ve tried a couple times in my life and it wasn’t pretty. I wasn’t happy and I didn’t look cute. But despite that, I’ve often thought I’d like to try again. If I could get past the tough, painful beginning, I might get to the place where I actually enjoy it. Fast forward a few years and now my doctor advised that I don’t even think about taking up running. Whew! Now I have a legitimate excuse, but that doesn’t mean I get a pass on exercise.
Despite what I see in so many advertisements for shoes, travel, prescription drugs and wearable devices, running isn’t the only way to get exercise. It sometimes feels like everyone’s a runner except me. It’s so easy to make a list exercises I can’t do. My husband can ride his bike 100 miles – all on the same day! I can’t do that. My co-worker competes in CrossFit competitions. I can’t do that. Sir Edmund Hilary climbed Mount Everest. I can’t do that.
It’s easy to relax and binge watch a newly discovered series or even work at your desk all day, seldom getting up due to deadlines and inbox overwhelm. Beware! “Sitting is the new smoking”, says Dr. James Levine, director of the Mayo Clinic-Arizona State University Obesity Solutions Initiative and inventor of the treadmill desk. There truly are so many serious problems with being a couch potato (or desk potato). Sitting can shorten your life. A sedentary lifestyle may lead to:
· Heart disease
· Anxiety and depression
Even getting up to move for a short time can reduce your blood sugar and insulin spikes. With so many benefits to moving, it’s hard to argue against it. Yet many of us still aren’t making any changes. My hope is that everyone who reads this article, would be inspired to make at least one small change to incorporate more movement into their day.
My mom likes to keep many things on the table next to her chair so they’re handy when she needs them. I was noticing that she even had a needle and thread sitting there, even though she has a sewing box in a closet about 8 feet away. I encouraged her to put some of those items away so she would be forced to get up and move when she needed them. Thankfully, her doctor agreed. Now she’s putting some things away in their rightful place.
What if you’re reading this and saying one of these legitimate excuses:
· I can’t afford a gym membership.
· I have bad knees.
· I don’t have room for exercise equipment in my home.
· ________________ (fill in the blank)
There is SOMETHING you can do. It may not look like what another person is doing, but let’s not compare ourselves to others. Let’s focus on our own strengths and determine what can be done.
You may need to consult with your doctor or physical therapist to determine what is safe for you if you have serious limitations. Start simple and build up the amount of movement you do each day.
Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can. – Arthur Ashe
Movement tip #1: Put things away
When you’re done using the scissors, put them back where they belong. When you’re done using the sewing box, put it back in the cupboard. By doing these simple things, you’ve lifted, pulled, reached and walked. You’re moving!
Movement tip #2: Move while you wait
If you’re waiting for water to boil, vegetables to roast or bread to bake, keep moving. Rather than sitting down and looking at your phone, turn on some music and dance, put a load of laundry in the washer, pump iron soup cans or do some lunges. Get creative.
Movement tip #3: Be intentional
It goes without saying that there are many health benefits to getting regular exercise. We know it helps us lose weight, build muscle and sleep better just to mention a few. No one can argue that there is no benefit to exercising, but we sure can come up with some great excuses for not doing it. Be intentional. Make a plan. You may need to put a reminder on your phone or block out time on your calendar. Do whatever it takes! Start moving. Start small. Pick a realistic goal for this week. If it was easily attainable, increase it next week. If you struggled, try again.
Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. ─Theodore Roosevelt