Tag Archives: walking

Time to Take Care of YOU

One might assume that because the United States spends more on health care than any other nation ($4,500 per person in 2000) Americans should also be the healthiest folks on the planet. Unfortunately, according to the UC Atlas of Global Inequality, that is far from the truth. In terms of life expectancy, the U.S. ranks 27th (77 years). An even more alarming trend is a 30-year pattern of decreased life expectancy, a high infant mortality rate, and the reality that U.S. youth have the “highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and deaths from car crashes” among 17 developed countries studied in a recent report produced by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council.

An article by Sabrina Tavernise in the January 9, 2013 edition of The New York Times summarized the report’s distrubing findings. Particularly troubling are the findings that Americans under 50 had a higher mortality rate from gun-related homicide, drug and alcohol abuse, and car accidents than any of their counterparts in the other countries studied. We also posted the second highest rate of death from heart disease and lung disease.

Despite our many strengths as a nation, the United States also has the highest rate of poverty among the 17 developed nations in the study, limited  primary care resources in a fragmented healthcare system, and a high percentage of uninsured citizens. Cuba, despite its many economic challenges and limited resources, has made healthcare a priority. The country has a universal healthcare system and one of the world’s highest doctor-to-patient ratios. The average per person healthcare expenditure in Cuba is a mere $186 or about 1/25 of per person spending in the United States. Cuba comes in just behind the United States at 28th in terms of life expectancy (76.9 years compared to the U.S.’s 77 years). Go figure.

The bottom line is that YOU are responsible for your health. No one is going to force you to be healthy or to make good choices. Some health issues bear no relation to lifestyle, but most of the truly pressing health issues in the United States are indeed related to lifestyle, income, and education. The playing field is not a level one, but we make it even less level through choice and public policy.

Controversial filmmaker and best-selling author Michael Moore made the simple choice to start walking 30 minutes each day. As Moore notes, it’s free and it feels good. Don’t stop there! You can bypass the cigarettes and save money. You can cut out the sodas and drink water or green tea. You can brew your own coffee at home and moderate your alcohol intake. You can prepare simple, fresh foods and cut out the highly-processed junk. If you don’t know how to cook, you can learn.

No one is asking you to make a 180 degree change in how you live overnight–although if that’s how you work, go for it! Try to change one thing and see where it goes. Don’t go out and get an expensive gym membership; take that walk around the neighborhood. If you hate going outside, turn on a music channel and dance like a fool where no one can see you. Instead of driving eight blocks to the post office, walk there. Plant a garden. Get enough sleep. Drink enough water. Play ball with your kids. Walk through your neighborhood and get to know folks. Just do something.

Don’t wait for a better or more convenient day. Get started right now. It’s time to take care of YOU because YOU are worth it!

Photo by Green_Mamba. Thanks!

A Simple Step Toward Good Health

If you have good health, give thanks! If your health is compromised, don’t despair. Give thanks that you can likely do something to improve it. You don’t need to spend a lot of money, you don’t need expensive equipment, and you don’t even need to join a fitness club.

Dr. Mike Evans believes there is a simple and inexpensive answer to vastly improving health and well-being. Check out his animated health lesson that challenges all of us to give just 30 minutes a day to the one thing that can do the most for our health. The answer is simple: GET MOVING! Just 30 minutes of walking a day–or some similar physical activity–can make a big difference in your overall physical and emotional health, your longevity, and your pocketbook.

Are you willing to trade 30 minutes a day to live longer, have a more positive outlook on life, and avoid chronic health problems such as obesity, arthritis, high blood pressure, depression, and high cholesterol? Look at it this way. Becoming a better steward of your time, talent, and resources begins with taking good care of your body. After all, it’s hard to help others if you aren’t willing to help yourself.

And if you think you’re too old, or too unhealthy, or too busy, well think again. My 84-year-old mother walks almost every day. My cousin’s spouse was extremely overweight, and he started walking, then running, and finally competing in triathlons. He’s lost the excess weight, added years to his life expectancy, and looks fit and healthy. You can do it, too.

If you need a little faith nudge, remember what Paul said about our bodies in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20. Even Jesus pointed out in his greatest commandment that loving others begins with loving ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Faithful discipleship involves faithful self-care.

Research tells us it takes 21 days to create a habit. Why not challenge yourself to creating the daily habit of physical exercise? Better yet, enlist a friend or family member to join you and hold you accountable. You are worth it, my friend. So get out there and take a simple step toward good health and better stewardship of self. Oh, but first watch the video; if you have any doubts, it will surely dispel them.

Here’s to your health and to the stewardship of all aspects of life!

Photo by puuikibeach used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Thankful for Walks

The last few months in our house have been excruciatingly busy, and because of that fact I let my fitness slip. I never happened to be near the YWCA and couldn’t seem to make the time for a special trip there. At home, something always seemed to intervene to keep me from my yoga routine and regular walks. It didn’t take long for a few pounds to creep back on (Thanks stress eating and lack of willpower!) and a general sense of malaise to settle over my days. What had originally been inconvenience and busyness gave way to stress and sluggishness. Ugh!

One day I finally realized just how far away from my healthy routine I had fallen. Sure, I was still making time for prayer, meditation, and study, but my physical self was suffering neglect. So I decided enough was enough. It was time to blend in a few more salads, a couple of extra glasses of water, and a long daily walk.

Walking is great exercise. It requires no special equipment other than decent shoes and a safe place to walk. It provides a completely different view of the world on foot than what one sees encased in a speeding box of plastic, glass, and metal. It can be a social activity or a respite that provides needed “self” time. It improves posture, breathing, and cardiovascular fitness. Even bone density gets a boost. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic for more information about the many benefits of walking.

Yesterday I had the pleasure of taking two long walks. It was glorious! I used one of the walks as time to talk with my mother. Thanks, mom! It was good to hear your voice. I used the other one to spend time with my youngest daughter and the dogs. Thanks, family!

After my brush with the fitness slump and dumpy blahs, I have a renewed appreciation for the benefits of daily walking as an important part of my thanks-living lifestyle. In fact, I’m going to take the dogs for a walk around town right now.

How about you? Do you enjoy walking? What benefits do you gain from walking? I’d love to hear from you!

Photo by h. koppdelaney used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!

Thankful for Steady Footing

“It’s a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no telling where you might be swept off to.”  – Bilbo, from J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fellowship of the Ring

Like Bilbo Baggins says, it is dangerous business stepping outside one’s door. It’s a big, wide world with plenty of distractions, wrong turns, and pitfalls. Keeping one’s feet steady and sure is important.

What does it mean to keep one’s feet? Literally, one should be careful where one steps — avoiding everything from random cow patties to rusty nails. The right shoes, the right socks, and the right frame of mind all contribute to a successful journey.

On a deeper level, to keep one’s feet entails making sure a sense of purpose carefully outlined. One needs maps, guides, and a plan to ensure a successful journey. Of course, even with the right accoutrements there are no absolute guarantees, but  good preparation is key.

For me keeping my feet, means following in the footsteps of my Creator, incarnate in the person of Jesus, the Son of God. This means attuning my gait to his gait, my direction to his direction, my routine to his routine.  Yup, my very way of being in the world needs to be as close to his example as possible to ensure steady footing. I must practice my discipleship walk, just as the marathon runner trains for a race.

In the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul writes “Do you not know that in a race the runners all compete, but only one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may win it. Athletes exercise self-control in all things; they do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable one. So I do not run aimlessly, nor do I box as though beating the air; but I punish my body and enslave it, so that after proclaiming it to others I myself should not be disqualified” (24-27).

Basically, what Paul is saying is that you have to work at the steady footing that will keep you on the right path toward the ultimate goal. Thankfully, God wants all of us to wear that “imperishable wreath” of eternal life. The gift is ours, but that doesn’t mean we can be spiritual couch potatoes.

No dear friends, up and at ’em. No need to be swept away by the cares, woes, and lures of the world. Keep your feet by walking in the way of Jesus — loving God, loving neighbor as self, and living a life worthy of the prize to which we aspire.

Tonight, as I go to sleep anticipating a wonderful day of worship and fellowship with the faith community of which I am a part, I give thanks for steady footing, for spiritual disciplines that train and prepare me, and for the One who loves me and you beyond all compare.

Photo by lululemon athletica used under Creative Commons License. Thanks!