As a kid, I didn’t think about the necessity of getting exercise. I bet you didn’t either. In the summer, I rode my bike, swam at the community pool, and walked everywhere. Even as a parent of young boys, being physically active didn’t take any thought.
Fast forward almost 30 years – especially the past 8 of those years.
When my husband became medically retired from trucking with an ever-increasing number of medical issues, I became his caregiver and health advocate. As his world became more sedentary, so did mine; plus, retirement from the teaching world found me less active on a daily basis.
Now, almost 18 months after my late husband’s passing, I have been struggling to become more active in general; to raise my daily activity levels; and to increase my flexibility, agility, balance, strength, and stamina.
How am I doing?
Some days and weeks are good; some days and weeks are not as good. The good days find me cleaning or working on downsizing my belongings. I get several steps in on those days. On the not-as-good days, I sit on the couch more.
What’s stopping me?
I am stopping myself. That is the easiest way to put it.
It used to be easy to turn off the television, put on my socks and shoes, and walk around the block. It was a large, subdivision block. Here, where I live in Tennessee, it’s one long road uphill in one direction and then downhill to return home. Then add the few unrestrained pets that act like I am an intruder even though I stay on the road. I no longer feel comfortable walking the neighborhood road.
I have tried gym memberships. The cost of membership became an issue when I found myself skipping days and then weeks. I have also used the rising cost of gas as an excuse to skip a day at the gym. Oh, and let’s not forget the time it takes to drive there and back.
I have tried at-home exercise DVDs and exercise equipment. All have given me short-term success. In fact, I have, in the past, been able to unearth every excuse in the books and come up with some pretty creative additions.
After we moved to Tennessee, I realized that what I really liked was hiking the trails and kayaking.
But drive time to the trails, rain, and triple-digit heat indexes can give me an excuse to stay home on the couch. UGH!
I have tried, if I am in town, to plan my errands to include a walk along the river path or take a little extra time to go on one of the nearby hiking paths.
The other day, I got a “postcard” from my Medicare Advantage Plan that told me “Silver Sneakers” was part of my plan. I found that the parks and recreation organization in the county to the north had a vast amount of activities. It is not just a gym; it also offers art courses, theater, a wide variety of dance classes including Zumba and line, group hikes on the trails, day trips, and a number of other things.
So, I have made my plan for August. I drove to the facility as the first stop on my errands yesterday prepped to walk the indoor track and swim a few laps. I walked 14 laps of the indoor track but opted not to swim.
That was Tuesday. Now, I’m planning to go every other day during the month of August. That will give me the freedom to plan hikes if the heat index here in Tennessee ever gives us a break before October.
How can you motivate yourself to get more movement into your day?
My life-sister recently moved with her husband to a senior/retirement community that is connected with a nursing home. She called me a few weeks ago to tell me that her neighbor, a 90 year old lady, was out walking her little dog every morning and evening.
Ninety years old. If she can be motivated to get out of the house and get moving, so can the rest of us.
Applaud yourself. I applaud myself on the days I plan some form of movement other than walking around the house completing chores or around the stores on errands. I also applaud myself for days I get a minimum of 5,000 steps completed as per my Fitbit, BUT I don’t guilt trip myself if neither happen.
Personal Pep Talk. In the morning, I’ve started telling myself that I GET to walk the river path today or I get to swim laps at the pool or I GET to put in an exercise DVD and attempt to catch up. At the end of the day, if I didn’t get the movement in, I tell myself I’ll do better tomorrow, and I mean it. But hey, let’s face it, life has a way of “lifing” at you.
Include Short Movement Breaks. Some days all I can muster is getting off the couch and doing 5 or 10 repetitions of one exercise. Other days, I look up one of the several exercise gurus with videos on social media who show quick 5 – 10 minute movement breaks. I especially look for those videos that focus on flexibility and balance.
Keep a Record. I keep a record sheet in my Almost Everything Notebook. I record my steps from both my Fitbit and my Oura ring. I also have a column for exercise, and I enter the number and the time for that day: 1 – morning mobility stretch, 2 – DVD workout, 3 – long walk (30+ minutes), 4 – hike, 5 – biking, 6 – swimming, and 7 – other.
Join a Challenge. This year I joined both 52 Hikes and the Conquorer Challenge. I have definitely come up short with the 52 Hikes challenge, mostly due to weather issues. Who wants to hike through mud paths and over rocks and tree roots in the rains when they are just getting started? I worried about slipping and twisting something, or worse, breaking something. UGH!
The other challenge was the Conquorer Challenge which connects with many step devices and counts your steps on one of many different virtual courses. Monday, I signed up for the London Challenge. Yes, this one costs money, but it is really no more than a gym membership, and because it links with my Fitbit, it goes where I go and logs my miles. I’ve walked some 395+ miles since I got started in February. I finished up The Amazon Rainforest a little over a week ago.
Other Tricks to Get More Movement Into Your Life.
Most people have heard these before, but they bear repeating:
- park farther away from the door to the store or facility
- take the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator
But what about these?
- Walk the perimeter of your driveway (especially useful if you have to care for someone but need to get some exercise)
- Walk down every aisle of the store you are at even if you don’t need something in that aisle
- Walk around the perimeter of the store before you begin to shop for anything.
Even 10 more steps today than yesterday is an improvement.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas about steps, exercise, and getting more movement in your life.
Please take a moment to share your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.
Until next time . . .
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