Sunday, August 07, 2011

Sunday Sales: Take A Walk

Today's Sunday Sales is a bit different than usual. This Sale requires you to spend no money. None what so ever. Today's Sunday Sales: Take a walk. Heads up, this blog post is kinda long so go get a cup of coffee before you click the jump.

I am not the most health savvy person in the world. However, I know what my body can and can't handle. Years ago, I could do push ups, sit-ups, jumping jacks, etc... all the stuff required in a normal Physical Education class in high school. What I couldn't do was run. A combination of a car wreck in 2000, needing a bra since 2nd grade, and incredible laziness, running has never been a strength. Add another car wreck in 2009 and general inactivity the past two years, and I honestly couldn't run unless my life depended on it. I could probably manage then. Maybe. My knees are trashed. My back is the same. Running causes intense physical pain that goes way beyond the "feel the burn" I hear people spout at the gym. Also, I've mentioned that I am incredibly clumsy. Mix running with that and it is just asking for trouble.

I found walking to be a happy medium for my body. Yes, it still hurts. But it isn't the laying on the ground twitching and having a panic attack inducing pain that running involves. I started walking as an alternative to actual athletics in P.E. back in high school. I preferred to walk rather than chase a ball up and down the court. My peers and the teachers preferred it that way too. (see: clumsy) As I got older, I took to walking outside of school time to clear my head. I'd take a bottle of water and walk the graveyard in front of my house for an hour, usually after 11pm. Come rain, or snow, or whatever, I walked every day, 7 days a week. It kept me sane. Consider this: I was 16, taking a full load of college classes, and working a full time job. Yeah, just the being 16 part is enough to drive people crazy.

I never considered the health aspect of walking when I was a teenager. I'm older now and getting ever closer to 30, so I am learning how a sedentary life affects me as I age. I don't get to walk where I live now. The town I grew up in was a small town of a few hundred people. I knew all the police officers, city workers, and neighbors. I could be out walking at midnight and never worry about my safety. Where I'm at now, it isn't necessarily safe to be out in broad day light by yourself. I don't live in the city. Cows are my neighbors on one side. But drug use, gang violence, and general stupidity are on the rise here. I can't just go for a walk. Someone will hit me with their car out of spite for me walking on the road. The cats don't let me exercise in the house... me being on the floor automatically equates to cuddle time and I have a problem with telling them no.

Finding a way to sneak in some exercise is difficult for many people. Especially people that work long hours, have children, and countless responsibilities have it far harder than I do. My biggest problem is making excuses because I am admittedly lazy. But I get tired of hurting when I wake up. I get tired of my knees burning when I have to walk up more than one flight of stairs. I get tired of the constant back ache that is with me regardless of my activities.

Consider the benefits of walking (according to the Mayo Clinic):
  • Lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol (never had mine checked)
  • Lowers blood pressure (has steadily gotten higher every year)
  • Lowers risk of type 2 diabetes (I definitely have a family history of diabetes)
  • Manages weight (like a large portion of America, I need that)
  • Improves mood (hahaha really? We'll just say I need that too)
  • Helps physical fitness and strength (I know that is a good thing)

So today, I am making a commitment to begin walking more. I already do little things like this... I park about ¾ of the way in the back of the parking lot everywhere I go, I take the stairs if it is just 1 flight of steps, I spend an extra 15-20 minutes at the grocery story just walking/browsing. But if I ever want to wake up without hurting, I have to help myself. Even if that means locking the cats up in the bathroom for 20 minutes in the morning so I can get some good stretching and walking around the living room, then so be it. For anyone that has some of the same difficulties as me (chronic pain, disease, depression, etc.), I highly recommend finding some way to get some walking in if you can. I felt one hundred times better when I walked every day and I'm going to start working my way back up to that again. I'm starting now by turning the computer off and wrangling the cats. How are you going to start?
Side note: You should consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program. Walking is no exception. I already talked to my doctor and got the okay. You should do the same.


Booksteve said...

Oh, wow. You're describing me all through that article. You're way too young and gorgeous to have all my troubles like that!

I've sliced my daily intake of Coke in half this week (It's a start). I got lots of walking in on Thursday and Friday because of the concert and then having to go pick up my car from the repair shop. Yesterday, I kept thinking I should get Dave to go for a walk with me but I kept putting it off and ended up never setting foot outside the house until the dig needed out at 3 AM when I simply stood in the back yard.

When Brittany was here, we'd go for walks once or twice a week sometimes. We actually walked the 20 or so blocks down to the river and back on several occasions. More recently I can't seem to walk a block without either my hip stiffening, my knees burning, my feet hurting or my lower back giving out. Sometimes in various combinations!

A year ago, unlike you, I could run. Was walking David to his bus stop one morning when he realized he'd forgotten his homework. From a block and a half away, I ran back, grabbed it and returned as quickly as possible with little effort. Now I feel like sometimes I can barely walk.

I do need to see my doctor again. We'll see if he says I can walk. Last time he said it wasn't good for my blood pressure.

Thanks for writing this.

Booksteve said...

"dig" above should be "dog"

Booksteve said...

Oh, and I've been doing that bit about parking further out for years so you'd get a little walking in. Always annoyed Kimberly who would drive around for 20 minutes in a parking lot until a space opened less than ten feet from the door!

Dee said...

I cut the sodas out the day I went to the doctor. I haven't had any in 5 days counting today. I replaced it with the flavored water from Wal-Mart. 0 calories, 0 sugar, 0 sodium. 74c per 1 liter. Not a bad trade off in my opinion.

I started the parking in the back of the lot thing during college. Not for health benefits, but because asshole kids kept dinging my car with their doors.

I wonder why your doctor thinks it would be bad for your blood pressure? I would think if you started out with maybe a 2 or 3 minute walk a couple times a day and started working your way up, your body would get used to the activity again.

Let me know what the doctor says when you get time to go see him.

Booksteve said...

I'm proud of you with the sodas!

What my doctor actually said was that he didn't want me exercising until we could get the bp down as my feet were badly swollen. Brittany and I had just walked two hours up and down hill in Eden Park two days earlier and he said I should never have done that. He said we'd set up an exercise regimen next time I was in for the follow-up. That was in April. Haven't been able to afford a follow-up yet. Sigh...