Chubb's Walk

Happy Healthy Pets

Category: Aging

Walk From Fat to Fitness

We hear a lot about how fat American’s have become.  We are an obese nation, sitting on our butts and gorging on fast food and deep fry.  Big Macs and Pizza and beer and seventy inch big screen TV’s have rendered us inactive blobs of flesh sitting and waiting for heart attacks and strokes.

For a while we played with the fitness craze, buying lifetime memberships at trendy gyms re-branded as health clubs, but no matter how many fancy weight machines or incarnations of the exercise bike that they placed beside hot tubs and saunas, they could hold our interest for only so long.  The workouts still required work and the health foods that they promoted still tasted like cardboard and sawdust.  As soon as the “lifetime memberships” fled with the fitness club’s name changes we flew back to our couches and our reruns, seldom to return.

As a result, we set aside those fanciful dreams of six-pack abs and Hulk Hogan biceps, the hour-glass figures and rock hard butts and tuned in to a growing slate of (un)reality shows that let us know that we were not more flawed than our neighbors and in fact may hold the higher moral ground.  For the next twenty years we remained glued to our cable enabled TVs and thus to our ever more plush couches.  Potatoes we became.

Now we find ourselves, decades later, silvered and rounded.  Not well, just rounded.  Well rounded would be us had we stayed in the gym.  Here we sit still, heart attacks and strokes in waiting disguised as baby boomers, finding now that we must continue to drag our decrepit bodies to diminishing jobs for diminishing pay for longer than expected in an attempt to replace our diminished retirement funds and savings we had counted on for our final years of corpulent comfort.

I don’t mean to be a complete purveyor of doom and gloom for our generation, however.  I bring with this bleak picture a caveat; a message of renewal, of reversal and regeneration.

We can walk our way out of this predicament.

Seriously.

Health concerns at the age of 49 facilitated a heightened interest in creating a healthier lifestyle for me and my loved ones, including dietary changes and research into the value of exercise.  I had fallen into a routine devoid of any organized workouts and so the changes needed were dependent upon finding a way to make my path to better health one that would allow me to ease my way back to fitness.  Jumping into a rigorous regimen of exercises, I knew from past attempts, would doom my efforts to failure.  I needed a way to saunter back into health, relatively painless, with a strong upside, but not daunting enough to deter a chronic couch potato like myself.

Walking was the ideal start.

Most of us can walk.  In fact, after years of experience we can all claim a certain amount of expertise in this common but amazingly beneficial activity.  This makes it an excellent place to begin a path to fitness and health.  Barring major disability, walking for health will merely mean increasing an activity that everyone participates in on a daily basis.  The benefits are not only surprising to most, but are in fact astounding.

Following is a list of the most universal gains that an increase in your steps per week will provide.  In coming posts I will explore the various studies and personal experience that lend credence to these claims.

I make no exaggeration when I say that walking is the ultimate “get rich quick scheme” for improved health that you will find that is not a scam.

Immediate benefits include:

  • Reduced blood pressure
  • Reduced Cholesterol
  • Reduced stress levels
  • Reduced risk of stroke
  • reduced risk of cancer and return of certain cancers
  • Prevention and control of type 2 diabetes
  • Strengthening of the heart
  • Memory improvement/better cognitive function
  • Lower risk of dementia
  • Alleviates depression (as much as 47%)
  • Weight loss/maintenance
  • Improved fitness/build muscle strength
  • Better endurance
  • Increases circulation, boosting oxygen delivery throughout the body which slows the aging process
  • Disability prevention in the elderly
  • Increase of motivation and  self-satisfaction
  • Helps you sleep better which studies show help you to live longer
  • Increases ability to relax
  • Reduces reliance on medications
  • Improved sexual satisfaction
  • Increased vitamin D production when walking in sunshine, which lowers cancer rates, risk of death, and risk of osteoporosis in people over 50.

The list of benefits goes on and on, and all of this from an activity that we have been doing for nearly all our lives.  You gain all of these benefits by simply increasing your speed and the number of steps that you take.  I can personally attest to the effectiveness of including a brisk walk in your routine.  Many of the benefits on this list have been measurably effective in my quest to delay and even reverse some of the ravages of father time.

walking for fitness

Walk your way to fitness and health.

For your own sake, for your satisfaction of life, for the sake of those who love you, give it a try.  Find a nice route and start walking.  Push your pace and increase your steps.  Let’s show those that are calling our generation the black hole of healthcare that we can walk with pride into a bright and healthy future.

Here are some good resources for more information on how and where to go walking.

http://www.50plus-fitness-walking.com/walking-style.html

http://www.medicinenet.com/walking/page3.htm

http://alltrails.com/

“Age is an excuse, not a reason.”

“Age is an excuse, not a reason.”

Lately, as I approach the ripe old age of fifty-eight, slogans and inspirational quotes seem to take a new importance.  Eight years past the half-century mark.  Where did the time go?  Can I really be that old?

The past three years have been eventful for me, with the loss of a job that I had held for nearly eighteen years and the realization that I should have left  nearly eighteen years ago and pursued the writing career that I now am working to get on track.  I cannot express the joy that I feel to be able to work at the thing that I love to do every day.  Thank God and thank my beautiful and supportive wife who is sacrificing her time and sanity to support us while I work toward once again pulling my weight.

Also thrust to the forefront of my life is a new appreciation and concern for my own health and the health of those around me.  This is a process that has been slowly building for the years of my marriage making a jump when I became a parent twenty-five years ago and then taking a bit of a dip as the boys got older and I began my slow decline into laziness.  (Another of my recent focuses.)  Recently the rapid addition of three of the most adorable grandchildren into my life along with familiar reminders (high blood-pressure, high cholesterol, etc.) have combined to re-focus my attention upon healthier eating and exercise along with attention to the spiritual and mental health of myself and those that I love.

Speaking of getting old, my fortieth high school class reunion is coming up in June.  Forty years since I skulked down the halls of Hillsboro Senior High School.  There has been a lot of recent chatter on Facebook by my old classmates, but most of the memories that they share are not my memories.  High school was not one of the highlights of my life.  It really represents the beginnings of one of the darker times of my life.

As with most troubled youth of that age group, most of the pain and troubles that I had were self-inflicted, fueled by feelings of inferiority compounded by being one of the shortest and smallest guys on campus, but I remember having no trouble in finding volunteers who were willing and able to add to my misery. Add to that extreme shyness, and you had a toxic brew.  My peers seemed more than willing to magnify my inadequacies and they had some fine role models as Hillsboro had a good stock of teachers and staff with a sadistic streak when it came to dealing with the occasional square peg. 

I don’t mean to fall into a self-pity party here, just saying that I have some ambivalence about attending.  I have only attended two of the reunions to date, the fifth and the twentieth.  I didn’t enjoy them much, as the people who I really was hoping to re-connect with were not there.  Like I say, I wasn’t really socially accepted and so did not know a lot of the people who I graduated with.  Some names don’t even ring a bell, and others are just names without faces.

I did have a few friends, and I managed to make it through all four years of high school and graduate.  I made some acquaintances here and there and anyway people change; Lord knows that I have.  I can even think of a few teachers who actually made me believe that I could succeed at something.  I am still writing because of the encouragement of one.

I must confess to following some of the chatter online and kind of wishing that I had been more involved with making the memories that so many of them share.  I missed out on what could have been a wonderful part of my life and may have had an enormous impact on where my life has gone.  Then again, everything that I have been and done has led me to the point at which I find myself now and I would want nothing different if it meant losing what I have.  I am content.

Having said all this, I think that I am leaning  toward attending.  It would be fun to see who I remember and how much we all have changed.  (Yes, I dragged out the old annuals.)   I think, too, that as I get older it becomes more important to stay connected with each stage of the development that brought me to who I am today, and pleasant or not, high school had a very profound effect upon where my life went for many years beyond those confining walls.

I think that it is also important for me to be open to making new connections where perhaps an opportunity was lost years ago but may not be entirely gone.  New friends are always worth finding, even if it takes forty years.

Back to age.  Time is fleeting, no matter your age.

Age should be a reason, not an excuse.

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