Run, Walk, Move!

Isolation, social distancing, schedule changes, constant adaptations to your normal way of living have taken a toll on everyone. Listening to the “news” for a glimmer of hope may only depress you even more, so is it even necessary? The tension and stress of daily life are cumulative if you don’t regularly take some time to let off steam. The good news is the weather is improving, so you can enjoy some outdoor activities again!

While you can’t control everything in this crazy world, you can do something to shift your attitude toward a more optimistic focus. Running, or even fast walking, for just 15 – 30 minutes each day has great mental as well as physical benefits. It not only tones and strengthens your muscles, it also improves blood flow to your entire body including your brain. This releases feel-good endorphins for natural stress relief. The “Runner’s High” we hear so much about is real. That’s what calls many habitual runners to don sneakers and squeeze in a run in any type of weather. 

Go at a comfortable yet challenging pace. This level is different for each individual. This is not a race. You are not in competition with anyone. It has been said that if you aren’t sweating, then it isn’t exercise, but you should still be able to converse with another person while exercising. If you haven’t been physically active for a long time, then start slowly and work your way up. If you can only walk half a block, then start there. You are moving more today than yesterday, so celebrate each accomplishment as a WIN! Soon you will be walking one block, two blocks, a mile, then more. You might even turn that walk into a run! 

The important thing is to get moving. Now that the weather is warmer and masking is optional, you can go outside and enjoy the fresh air and sunshine as you walk or run. Fifteen minutes of direct sunlight on your bare arms, face and legs will give your vitamin D levels a real boost, which will in turn improve your natural immune system.

Start now and make daily exercise a priority. You devote so much time and effort to other people and things, you should not feel guilty about taking time for your own physical and mental well-being. You are worth it! If you schedule this time as a meeting on your calendar it will be much harder to ignore. Put your sneakers on first thing in the morning as a reminder to get moving. Now is better than later!

 

Continue reading “Run, Walk, Move!”

The Gym is Closed… Now What?

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We are living in strange and challenging times. Our normal routine has been disrupted by a little known virus, and it’s keeping most of the population isolated. The gym may be closed, fitness classes may be cancelled, but this is no reason to stop exercising. There is one simple exercise that requires no special equipment or training. In fact, it’s free and you’ve been doing it most of your life!

Walking is the most basic of exercises and is beneficial in so many ways:

— Walking helps to lower stress and blood pressure. The heart is the most important muscle in your body and it must be exercised to stay strong and healthy.  You are in charge. You can walk at your own pace and gradually work up to longer walks at a faster pace as your endurance increases.

— Walking helps to strengthen lower body muscles and improve balance and coordination. This is a big concern as people get older and falling risk increases.

— Walking improves bone density (walking is considered a weight-bearing exercise because you are carrying your own body weight). One study of post menopausal women found that walking 30 minutes per day reduced their risk of hip fracture by 40%!

— Walking burns calories, helps lower BMI, and as a result helps manage type 2 diabetes.

— Walking helps you to manage joint pain and stiffness. If you have arthritis, avoiding physical activity is not the way to improve your pain. Walking pumps fluid into and out of the joints and cartilage, washing them with nutrients and slowing degradation there. For more information: http://www.creakyjoints.com

— Walking improves mental well-being and will help you sleep better at night. Walking releases endorphins similar to a runner’s high. You will rest soundly with a feeling of satisfaction after a brisk walk.

– Walking slows mental decline. It has been shown that senior men who walk more than a quarter mile each day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease than non-walkers.

Even if you are told to self-isolate because of the corona virus, you can still walk for exercise. If possible, walk in the woods or a park and enjoy the beauty of nature. Isn’t exercising in the fresh air more appealing than working out in a stuffy gym? Allow the sun to shine on your face and arms for additional Vitamin D absorption. Listen to the music of birds singing, leaves rustling in the breeze, water rippling in a stream. Use this time to enjoy the simple pleasures of nature, to pray or meditate. Walking can be a satisfying solitary activity, good for the body, mind and spirit. Or, take your dog along, and make time for a game of fetch or frisbee, and you’ll both return feeling refreshed.

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