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Why I Walk…

Each morning I take a walk.  Its not a huge, big deal.  Its enough to get the blood flowing and get a little fresh air into my lungs.  And its enough for the dog to do her business (she goes for her long walk with her dad — the power walker).  Since I’m obviously not walking as some great aerobic activity, why DO I walk?

So, seriously… it makes my marriage better.  It is time away from television, computers, email, phones and the rest of the busyness of modern life.  It slows me down.  It gives me time to think for a few minutes WITHOUT interruption.  That’s good for my marriage.  It gives me a chance to think through things in my life before I fly off the handle at my husband (he appreciates that greatly).

It also makes our love life better.  We both walk, so we’re both in better health than we would otherwise be.  Walking keeps our weight in check and reduces any back pain that we might otherwise develop.  That makes our love life easier and better.  We’re not arranging ourselves around tricky back problems or extra body mass.  Its good for our hearts and keeps our blood pumping — need I say anything about good blood flow and love life??  (wink)

Why I Walk…

Each morning I take a walk.  Its not a huge, big deal.  Its enough to get the blood flowing and get a little fresh air into my lungs.  And its enough for the dog to do her business (she goes for her long walk with her dad — the power walker).  Since I’m obviously not walking as some great aerobic activity, why DO I walk?

Walking just 15 minutes a day can reduce my risk of diabetes by 40 percent.  Especially if I take that little walk right after a meal.  Walking helps lower post-meal blood sugar for 3 whole hours.  Researchers at George Washington University School of Public Health called it a “prescription for controlling blood sugar”.

Since more than 79 million Americans are considered “pre-diabetic” and over 26 million of us have diabetes, walking sounds like a good plan.

The researchers found the just 150 minutes of walking a week was all it took to make a huge difference.  That works out to just over 20 minutes a day.  Since they did find a huge difference in walks right after a meal, I may be switching up my walking — or just adding a walk after dinner.  I’m sure the dog won’t mind.

Why I Walk…

Each morning I take a walk.  Its not a huge, big deal.  Its enough to get the blood flowing and get a little fresh air into my lungs.  And its enough for the dog to do her business (she goes for her long walk with her dad — the power walker).  Since I’m obviously not walking as some great aerobic activity, why DO I walk?

As a woman of a certain age, I need to watch my bone mass.  Osteoporosis is a huge health risk for women in their later years.  Brittle and fragile bones mean risk of falling and breaking something.  They also mean longer healing times for bones that do break.  Not how I want to spend the rest of my life.

When we exercise, we build and maintain the amount and the thickness of our bones.  Weight bearing exercise is especially good for your bones.  This is any exercise where your legs and feet are holding up your weight.  Walking is one very easy way to get some weight bearing exercise.

I’m great with spending my later years hiking through the woods and walking along the streets of cities I’ve never seen before.  Those strong bones can carry me around the world if I want them to.  I’m happy to walk.

Why I Walk….

Each morning I take a walk.  Its not a huge, big deal.  Its enough to get the blood flowing and get a little fresh air into my lungs.  And its enough for the dog to do her business (she goes for her long walk with her dad — the power walker).  Since I’m obviously not walking as some great aerobic activity, why DO I walk?

Walking is just simply good for your heart.  Yes, yes, other aerobic activities are also good for your heart.  But walking has the lowest dropout rate of any of the exercises chosen by us non-exercisers.  Walking is a moderate physical activity and is probably the easiest way to get your physical activity level up.  Your heart rate goes up while you walk, and your blood carries more oxygen and nutrients to your cells, enabling them to do a better job.  You lungs take in more oxygen and work more effectively.

Doctors say that simple walking can cut your risk of heart disease by as much as 40 percent.  That’s a huge decrease in risk for a small effort.

Your heart is a muscle.  The more you use it, the stronger it gets.

Why I Walk…

Each morning I take a walk.  Its not a huge, big deal.  Its enough to get the blood flowing and get a little fresh air into my lungs.  And its enough for the dog to do her business (she goes for her long walk with her dad — the power walker).  Since I’m obviously not walking as some great aerobic activity, why DO I walk?

Walking strengthens your memory.  Last month, the New York Times had an article in their research section suggesting that just 3 walks per week may be enough to stave off memory loss in those of us who are a tad older.  Somewhere around 55 or 60 years old, the hippocampus in the brain begins to atrophy.  With that atrophy, comes memory loss.

The researchers from the University of Pittsburgh compared two groups of adults of that age group.  Half the group walked 40 minutes  a few times a week.  The other half of the group did some other kinds of exercises.  One year later the walkers had actually INCREASED their hippocampus!  The group who engaged in other kinds of exercise had a loss of about a percent and a half in the size of the hippocampus.  That’s a huge difference.

Walking really DOES make your memory better

Why I Walk

Each morning I take a walk.  Its not a huge, big deal.  Its enough to get the blood flowing and get a little fresh air into my lungs.  And its enough for the dog to do her business (she goes for her long walk with her dad — the power walker).  Since I’m obviously not walking as some great aerobic activity, why DO I walk?

 

Walking makes you feel better.  Just a 10 minute walk provides a serious mood boost for over two hours according to Dr. Robert Thayer.  He teaches people how to regulate their mood with food and exercise.  Just my little itty-bitty walk has a huge effect on my mood — scientifically and experientially — I feel the difference on days that I don’t get my walk.

This also is what makes me head out the door in the middle of a long, trying work day.  I’ll sometimes decide that I need a walk more than I need lunch.  A quick jaunt out in the fresh air and then a snatch of some part of my lunch usually will be enough to push me through the remainder of my work day.

Right now, when the days are still not long and beautiful, it can be a real effort to push myself out the door in the morning.  But the payoff in terms of my outlook on the day is enormous.

Fit Bit Flex

I got a new Fit Bit Flex as a part of a wellness incentive (DH got one too!).  I’ve been using it to track my “normal” routine — in other words, I’m consciously NOT adding any additional walking or exercise right now.  I just want the data on what is my “usual and customary” — then I can begin adding to my routine in meaningful ways.

So far, I’ve been pleasantly surprised.  I’m moving far more than I thought I was.  I’m typically halfway to my goal of 10,000 steps, even on days that I feel as though I’ve been chained to my desk.  I’ve been as high as 8,000 steps — just doing my normal routine.  It makes planning to add a walk into my routine much less daunting.

Next, I want to try tracking my sleep.  The biggest trick on this for me will be actually wearing the FitBit band to bed.  I hate anything on my fingers, neck or wrist at bedtime.  I even remove my wedding rings for sleeping.  Once I adjust to having the FitBit on my wrist during the night, the rest should be easy.  I’m wondering what I’ll get for surprises about my sleep. It should be interesting

Goal Setting for 2014

I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions any more.  I know that nearly half of the population does.  But I also know that less than 10% of those folks actually are able to follow through on keeping those resolutions and doing something.  Not my kind of odds.  I like things that work in my favor.  New Year’s Resolutions don’t.

Instead, I participate in the OneWord365.  Each year, I choose one word to reflect the person I want to work on becoming for that year.  Last year, my word was persevere.  I certainly was a year to practice perseverance!  I’m still ruminating on this year’s word — I’ll post here when I settle on it.  But I’ve been thinking about it a lot.  I’ve also been answering quite a few questions about this practice as friends, family and colleagues have begun joining me and selecting their own words.

I was looking at some research for changing habits (occupational hazard of mine) and thinking about the word of the year practice.  Here’s what I realized:

Name the change!  This is a fundamental principal of teaching and learning and changing behavior.  We name the skill we want to master.  We name the strategy we’re practicing.  We name the habit that we’re embracing.  With OneWord365, I name the focus for the year.  And I name it in a one word imperative.

Write it Down!  Its common knowledge that a goal written down is far more likely to be achieved than one that just lives in the thin air.  I put my OneWord365 on my computer, so that it stares on me every single day.  Last year, I also make a small applique pillow with my word on it.  That pillow has sat on a favorite chair where I curl up to read and to work.  Reminders to persevere faced me everywhere I turned.

Identify the Steps and Set the Habits!  Habits are what we do when we’re not thinking about what we’re doing.  They are the patterns of behavior that shape out lives.  The change won’t come if we don’t establish new routines and habits to make the change a part of ordinary life.  So, what are the habits?  Last year, perseverance required habits of taking a deep breath and plunging onward when I was faced with obstacles.  It meant repeating actions over and over and over until the perseverance itself was ingrained into my daily life.

Use Reminders and Triggers!  This has been one of my favorite new learnings this past year.  Think about brushing your teeth.  P&G has planted a trigger and a reminder right into the toothpaste to make us brush our teeth.  They’ve made the fresh minty taste a part of the whole brushing process.  Now millions of us waken in the morning, taste our ordinary dragon, morning breath and run to the sink to get the fresh minty taste back.  That’s a pretty powerful trigger.  If I want habits to implant in my life like that, I need to set up triggers that have that same kind of power.

This year I’m using Google Calendar and the alerts in my smartphone to trigger some of my work.  And I’m working on figuring out some environmental triggers to help myself too.  Things like scented candles burning, cold flavored water or hot tea and other ordinary things that can be embedded in rituals to help me trigger the behaviors that I want. I’m also employing the old kindergarten habit of posting lists.  Checking things off is a very satisfying reinforcer.  A list on the fridge might not be fancy or techy, but its effective.  Face it, a sticker never hurt anyone.

Use a Support Group!  All change is easier with friends acting as cheerleaders and encouragers.  By sharing my OneWord365 with friends and colleagues, we all remind each other throughout the year.  I can’t count the number of times that friends admonished me last year “persevere!”.  It was just the kick in the pants that I needed.

Make the Bed

Mom was right!  Make your bed every day and the whole day will be better.  Its a subliminal thing.  Really.  Just think about it.

The whole room looks better.  The bed itself looks better.  I love my bed when its made.  Its a pretty restful oasis that beckons me when I walk into the room.  When its left unmade, its an eyesore.

Its more organized.  We all know that I have issues with this one.  When the bed is left unmade, clothing and bath towels and heaven knows what else are all too easily left amongst the rumpled sheets.  Things get lost.  When the bed is made, those things are found and can be returned to their place.

You sleep better.  Really, you do.  There is something about crawling into a fresh, crisp set of sheets.  They are cool and sleek on your body.  All the signals for rest and relaxation are there.  There’s no struggle with untangling the sheets, no hunt for the missing pillow.

You can have people visit your house at the spur of the moment without worry.  Friends can put their coats in your bedroom or nurse their baby in private without you cringing about the state of the bedroom. The bed is made, the room just naturally looks clean, neat and organized.  You look like Betty Crocker and Martha Stewart all rolled into one — just because the bed is made.

It gets you moving in the morning.  When the bed is left unmade, its all too easy to drift back into it.  When its freshly made and gorgeous looking, the subtle cues are there that the day is underway.  Your get up and go gets with the program and gets up to go.

Easter Bunny Love

I found this precious guy in the flower department at Stew Leonards.  I couldn’t resist him.  And he made a perfect house gift for a friend who had us for the weekend.

 

My only regret is that I didn’t pick one up for myself as well.  He IS adorable.IMG_5069 IMG_5072

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