I took a walk outside today with two of my co-workers. We weren’t out for long, but it felt great to take a 20- or 30-minute cruise through the neighborhood adjacent to the office during our lunch hour. It reminded me that I haven’t done it in a while, and also that it’s better than caffeine as an antidote to afternoon sluggishness.
While it’s certainly not a mind-blowing revelation that many of us could stand to move more, it’s still something I need to remind myself from time to time. My husband and I got new Fitbit Surge activity monitors last month. I had a Fitbit Ultra but lost it over a year ago, and I was on the fence about whether to get a new one. I don’t like to be beholden to a device, and I have certainly fallen prey to the admittedly strange thought pattern about “uncredited” steps taken when I forgot to wear my Fitbit… despite the fact that my body obviously “counted” them!
Seeing friends’ step counts, or even participating in challenges with them, can be fun, as long as they aren’t taken too seriously. The comparison trap is always a risk, and I generally try to encourage myself (and others) to compete and compare less, not more. Still, I’m happy I have a Fitbit again. I’m even doing a “weekday hustle” challenge with my aforementioned co-workers, and so far it’s not driving me into a frenzy of competitiveness.
It turns out that I simply like to be able to track how much (or little) I’m moving during the day. My new Fitbit has reminded me what I knew all too well when I had my previous one: If I don’t deliberately incorporate extra steps and walks into my life, my general activity levels are pretty low. I work a desk job, and while I try to get up and walk around the office, it doesn’t always amount to much. I also have a standing desk for certain tasks, but I sometimes forget to use it.
Use it or lose it. We’ve all heard that old adage. While it may not apply to my standing desk (it’s still there in my office), it’s pretty spot-on when it comes to our bodies. I happen to think staying active — in smart, healthy ways — is akin to a fountain of youth. For me, it’s important to weight train and do mobility exercises to preserve and even build strength and flexibility. I’ve seen enough proof that it’s possible, not just at 47 but well beyond, to improve ourselves, inside and out.
Beyond weight lifting, yoga, and other designated strength/mobility training, I know it’s a good idea to just plain move around more. Increasing my step count and upping my general activity will help me burn more calories and get my waistline back in check. I also find that it can boost energy, alertness, and creativity. I’m sure walking with my husband, friends, family, and co-workers could improve my relationships, as well. Dare I say that taking a walk is just as good as going out to eat when it comes to catching up and sharing some laughs?
Winter is on the way, and I’m not a big fan of being cold. But with the right shoes and outerwear, it’s possible to walk safely outside for most of the year. And there’s always the mall, which does the trick in a pinch!
I’ve recently been reading about Original Strength (OS) and similar programs, which teach about “resetting” our bodies and restoring some of our inherent, but neglected, movement patterns. Things like crawling, rolling, squatting, and, yes, walking. These are simple, free activities that we have known how to do for quite a while… though, in fact, some of us probably stopped most of them a long time ago. Even walking, which is hard to avoid entirely, seems to decline more with every passing year thanks to technology and suburban sprawl.
When was the last time you got on the floor and just played around? It’s worth making time for. Rolling on the ground feels like a massage. Squatting is great for increasing range of motion and getting out of overused chair- or couch-shaped postures. Crawling helps with balance, strength, and may even enhance brain function. Plus it’s honestly just fun to be down there. It is reminiscent of simpler days, and it gives a different perspective of the world (and perhaps the dust bunnies under the couch). If you have pets, they might find it strange at first, but soon they’ll join in and play right along with you!
As I mentioned, plain ol’ walking is another reset, according to OS. Whether or not you subscribe to their terminology, it’s evident that walking works heart, lungs, and muscles. Most medical and fitness experts agree that it’s extraordinarily good for the brain and the body alike. Sadly, I think many of us take it for granted. Unfortunately, if we avoid it at all costs, we may find ourselves missing it some day, perhaps far sooner than we’d expect.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Crawl, stretch, dance, roll, skip — and walk more than the bare minimum — as often as you can. Moving regularly is one of the best ways to ensure that we can continue to do so in the days and years to come. Most importantly, it’s a fantastic way to spend time now… and now is where our lives transpire. Show your body some loving kindness, today and every day. You deserve it!