Writing is a sedentary occupation and I love it. I get so absorbed in writing that I am unaware of time. Five hours later, I look up from the computer screen, rub my eyes, and realize that I'm thirsty and hungry. Though I love everything about writing, even revising, I know I must balance it with movement.
But this has become harder in the last few months. I have arthritis in both hips, for one thing. I have high blood pressure and the medications I take slow my heart rate markedly. Salt retention is another problem and the medication I take for it causes leg and foot cramps. Several months ago I fractured a bone in my foot. Unfortunately, it took three months -- three months of minimal movement -- for my foot to heal.
You may have similar problems. Still, we need to stay active. Do you know the difference between physical activity and exercise? Physical activity encompasses all movement -- dance, organized sports, biking, walking, hiking, weight lifting, horseback riding, and more. Exercise, on the other hand, usually refers to structured movements, such as Jumping Jacks.
During the last three months I've gained 15 pounds. Clearly, it's time for me to get back on my walking program. These tips will help you incorporate movement into each day.
1. Get a checkup. I try to have one yearly. During the checkup my doctor reviews my medications and adjusts them, if necessary. Taking over-the-counter pain medication (according to directions) helps to alleviate my arthritis pain.
2. Prepare. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you need to get ready for physical activity. 'Learn how to warm up and cool down,' the CDC advises. This is good advice for sports, exercises, and casual activities.
3. Pick the time. 'Overcoming Barriers to Physical Activity,' an article by the CDC, scheduling your activity at the peak time of your day, when energy is high, helps to keep you moving. 'Convince yourself that if you give it a chance, physical activity will increase your energy level,' the CDC notes.
4. Stay hydrated. Many older adults lose their sense of thirst and mistake lack of water for hunger. That's why it's important to drink water before any physical activity. You may also wish to bring a bottle of water with you.
5. Choose the right footwear. In the warm months, I wear walking shoes and socks that wick moisture. In the winter, I wear boots with a heavy tread on them to keep me from falling. These boots don't have a high heel.
6. Use available spaces. When the weather makes walking outside impossible, I walk at the mall or a discount store. Four times around equals a half hour of physical activity. Sometimes I walk around the center island in my kitchen. Thirty times around equals 1,000 steps.
7. Vary your activities. Changing your routine helps to keep you motivated, according to Mayo Clinic. I have found this to be true.
8. Try the spurt system. In its website article, 'Barriers to Fitness: Overcoming Common Challenges,' Mayo Clinic says 'shorter spurts of exercise, such as 10 minutes of walking spaced throughout the day,' have health benefits.
Overcoming challenges takes effort, but your health is worth it. Put physical activity on your calendar and stick to it!
Copyright 2012 by Harriet Hodgson