I have had a lot of questions about Golden Rule #1 (10,000 steps per day on at least 5 days of each week), so I decided to put an extra blog together for this week. Here are 10 points to think about.
- See your doctor first. Yes, I know, that’s a boring, defensive opening. But it’s smart. If you’re starting an exercise program, particularly if you’re out of shape and have been for some time, check in with your healthcare provider first! And, if in doubt at any subsequent time, check back in with them. You got to be healthy to be WHealthy!
- Start slow. When I was younger, I always went for a New Years Day run. I woke full of ambition and resolutions. In my enthusiasm, I always ran faster than I should have. Consequently, the first week of each year was painful, and it became a strong disincentive. If you’ve been sedentary for a long time, you can honestly begin by walking to the mailbox, or once around the block. That’s a great start!
- Build slow. Same as start slow. We’ve all read the fable about the tortoise and the hare. The tortoise will achieve BodyWHealth far more often than the hare. Ten years ago, I started a major re-boot in my lifestyle. I started running every day, picking up the duration of each run by 10 minutes per week. After two months, I had Achilles tendinitis so bad that I couldn’t run without pain for several years! When I revolutionized my life 3 years ago, I started by walking. I built slowly, patiently working through the inevitable aches and pains as muscles, tendons and bones all strengthened up. I have no desire to run still today, and I’m 40 pounds lighter and many years younger than when I started!
- Not exactly 10,000. Remember your daily target includes regular walking plus exercise. So, you don’t need to exercise for the approximately 90 minutes required to get 10,000 steps. Depending on how active you are during your regular day, you’ll probably require 30 to 60 minutes walking to hit 10,000 steps for the day. And if you get fewer than 10,000 in the beginning, that’s OK.
- You don’t have to walk. You can walk, run, hop, skip, swim, paddle or cycle. You can also do yoga, resistance exercises and stretch. In subsequent blogs, I’ll teach you how to substitute other aerobic exercises in for walking. I’ll also advocate for 2 – 3 resistance sessions per week. For now, hit the first target: 10,000 per day on at least 5 days per week. If you need to work harder, find a stadium and walk up and down the steps inside. It helps if the college band is practicing at the time (personal favorite!).
- Chunk it up. You don’t have to do it all at once, and you don’t need an entire new wardrobe of exercise clothes (although the latter may help in motivating you). You can walk the dog for 10 minutes in the morning, walk for 20 minutes over lunch, then walk the dog again for 15 minutes in the evening. 10,000 total. That’s all.
- Buddy up. Not only more interesting to walk and talk, but far more important is the motivational aspect. When its cold and dark, it helps to know that your neighbor is waiting at your mailbox!
- Where do you park your car? This always amazes me, and I still catch myself falling into old habits. Take a look at the car park outside food stores. All the parking is taken closest to the entrance, and people are hovering, waiting for empty spots …. while there is plenty of space at the far end of the lot! Park further where it’s quiet. You’ll avoid scratches and dings in your car too! This is also true for other situations. Walk next to the conveyor belt in the airport – especially good to get your circulation going and joints unfolded after long flights. Take the stairs!
- Walking meeting. Calculate the number of hours you spend on your butt in meetings or on the phone in a regular workday. Switch one meeting or phone call a day to a mobile (walking) meeting. Just don’t do what Bob did. I’d just taken on responsibility for a new team at work and suggested to each member of the team that we get acquainted on a business walk. He took me to a nudist beach! In case you’re wondering, we kept our clothes on. Take your pedometer, and you’ll reach your goal quicker without using up valuable personal time. Hey, you’ll have your boss paying for your BodyWHealth!
- Have fun! I could have put this down as numbers 1 to 10. You’ll see this is the sign-off I use for every blog. If you can’t have fun, you shouldn’t be doing it. Whereas exercise can be hard work, it must always be fun. Listen to music. Compose poetry. Speak on the phone. Walk with a friend. Walk around the perimeter of the soccer field while little Johnny practices. Watch the surfers from the boardwalk. You’ll get a buzz from the endorphins (chemicals produced by the body during exercise), but add to it with intellectual or emotional pleasures too. That’s the road to BodyWHealth!