You have heard it said that first you make your habits and then your habits make you. Clearly, when it comes to fitness there is a lot of truth in that statement.
Stuck In Traffic
Have you noticed lately how fast, let me take that back, how slowly most people seem to walk. Today I had to go to town for something or another and I noticed that after only a short time of stepping up my exercise level I felt restricted by the pace of the walking traffic.
Now believe me, at this point I am not fit! I am barely starting to get some movement into this old body. Yet, even now after just a few weeks I find myself impatient to get around and past those pokey folks in front of me on the sidewalk.
It is clear that people in general have gotten into the habit of dawdling along. It is not just when we are sitting in front of the TV that we are inactive. We are even inactive even when we are moving about.
Inactivity is a Learned Behavior
We have a granddaughter who models this truth for us. When talking to others about her I sometimes joke that she is two years old and still has not learned to walk. In a way it is true—she only seems to know how to run!
She is not alone. Children are naturally a ball of energy. Until, of course, their parents hold them down. You hear it every day: “Hold still, Johnny!” Running, jumping, and playing come naturally to children.
As they get older they learn more and more to be inactive. They are made to sit a lot of the time in school. They no longer get so much time to play, and if they do heaven forbid they should get to do anything so dangerous a play dodge ball. Does anyone remember physical education classes?
By the time we are adults we have learned the sedentary lifestyle. And we have gotten so fat and out of shape we can’t move too fast for fear we will get winded. Kind of sad, isn’t it!
The Activity Habit
It is definitely time to buck the system, to learn some new ways to do things. In this case, I think it is time to discard the physically easy path for a more assertive one.
Today I had to stop by the Clinic to pick up a medical item we needed from the lab. As I entered the main part of the building I naturally headed, as has been my habit, for the elevator. But then I spotted the stairwell.
A scary thought entered my mind. I reminded myself that I was only going down one flight. Why not take the stairs? It was a lot quicker than taking the elevator. And great exercise! So just like that I was going down. Then I bravely came back the same way.
Again, as I exited the building and crossed the parking lot I did something else. I started walking about twice as fast as everyone else.
Perhaps there were folks noting my walk and asking themselves what I must be in such a hurry about. More likely no one noticed me at all or could care less. But I felt sort of good about it. I know it is not a big deal, but I still felt good about it. My body and my energy level is improving, all because of a simple choice to get moving.
Changing Our Habits
Sometimes it is the little habit that kills us. Sometimes it is the little habit that can make us as well.
Getting more active all day long might just be as valuable as getting our 20 minute workout each day. I want to commit myself to walking faster, picking my feet up better as I do, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and climbing those stairs just a little faster each time.
I may never take those steps two or three at a time as I once did, but I can climb them well and walk with a spring in my step—at least for a few more years. And I will look and feel better as a result.