You are probably familiar with Diana Nyad, the woman who swam from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida (110 mi) in 2013 at the age of 68. Since that accomplishment Diana and her partner, Bonnie Stoll, have launched the exercise effort known as Ever Walk. The goal of Ever Walk is to get Americans up and walking on a regular basis. If you take the Ever Walk pledge, you commit to walking at least three times a week. My cousin who completed the Appalachian Trail (almost 2000 miles) in 2017 after walking several segments for a number of years walked with Diana and a group in New England in September of this year. Those who walked the entire route covered 132 miles in seven days (about 20 miles per day). They walked from Boston to Cape Elizabeth, Maine.
You may have heard that “sitting is the new smoking”. According to The Science of Exercise, which was published as a special Time edition, walking lowers your risk for disease, extends your life, makes you happier and keeps you limber longer. The wonderful thing about walking is that it’s an activity that’s available to almost anyone; it’s free; it can be done solo or with a partner or group at most times of day and in most settings. While walking you can pray, think, listen to music, an audio book or a pod cast or exercise your dog.–Or none of the previous. You can simply enjoy the scenery , the sounds and your surroundings.
All you really need is a good pair of shoes and maybe some sun screen.–Let’s make the pledge and get out there.
Does everyone think of things they would like to do differently in the new year? The beginning of another year does have the feeling of a fresh start and making positive changes. Here’s my list:
1. Practice yoga every day. I received the book, Yoga As Medicine, for Christmas which led me to this resolve. Walking a couple of miles daily has become a habit for me. Even though I’ve been attending a yoga class twice a week, I’d like the practice of yoga to become a daily habit as well.
2. Always have fresh flowers in my home. During the holiday season I’ve had poinsettias, amaryllis and a Christmas cactus which I received last year. It survived to bloom again! I also cut camellia blossoms out of my yard.–I tried to find those with long stems. Also, throw the flowers out when they’ve wilted. Nothing more depressing than sad flowers and stinky water. Let me replace those camellias right now!
3. Live a little more elegantly. I have beautiful crystal, silver and dishes. What am I saving it for? Presentation, even for myself, is important.
4. Have cosmetic eyelid surgery. My eyelids are drooping! Is there a stronger word? Sagging? Over hanging?
5. Share my home with more friends more often. I enjoy visiting in a small groups. This means I need to keep certain things on hand: soft drinks, beer, wine, cheese, crackers, etc. (I’ll try not to eat and drink it all.)
6. Post to this blog regularly. I did a poor job of that in 2016, but I resolve to do better. I’ve already thought of the next topic.
Wow! 2017 is going to be a very good year. I’m looking forward to it.
Research shows that women who walk three hours a week lower their risk of heart attack, coronary death and stroke by 34 to 35 percent. Where are my shoes? A woman who lives down the street from me walks six miles six days a week, and I recently met a man who walks two hours every day. Impressive! According to the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, walking increases bone density, manages the negative effects of osteoarthritis and eases back pain.
The Centers of Disease Control and Prevention and the Surgeon General recommend taking 10,000 steps a day which translates to about five miles. The pace of the walk should be between 90 and 110 steps per minute which is pretty brisk.
Not only does walking result in better health and a longer and fitter life, it also makes for a sunnier outlook. Walking, particularly when walking with good company and in pleasant surroundings, reduces depression and anxiety. Walkers also tend to be good sleepers.
As to what to wear for the daily walk, don a hat, sunscreen and sunglasses. Your skin and your eyes will thank you for that protection! Comfortable shoes will keep your feet happy too.
Walking seems to have it all. Simple and natural, it doesn’t require any instruction or skill. It can be a very modest form of exercise or it can demand enough skill and intensity to be an Olympic sport. You can walk alone for solitude or with friends for companionship. You can walk indoors on a treadmill (not my favorite) or outside in the city or country, at home or away. You can get all the benefits of moderate exercise with a very low risk of injury. And to boot, walking is inexpensive. All things considered, Hippocrates was right: “Walking is a man’s (or woman’s) best medicine”.
I went to a yoga class last night at a neighborhood church and left feeling very energized. My sister Sarah has been practicing yoga since May and has been encouraging the other two sisters to do this also. She and I have had a few back issues and she believes the yoga has been very therapeutic. She practices a form of yoga called hatha. The class I attended was Iyengar yoga which emphasizes flexibility and involves the use of props which enable the participant to perform the various poses. That means if you are very stiff and inflexible you can use a towel or something to perform the pose without risk of injury. My instructor believes that it is very important to maintain correct alignment, especially as we age, to enable our organs and bones to function optimally. I intend to continue to attend the classes in the hope of increasing my flexibility and balance. I will report on any major breakthroughs: if I am ever able to do the wheel pose, urdhva dhanurasana!
Have you ever tried to gather and coil a garden hose that’s been lying neglected in cold weather. It’s stiff, not pliable and hard to handle. That’s what I felt I was dealing with at my first yoga class. At one time I think I was fairly limber, but I’ve lost my suppleness, my flexibility, my litheness.
My favorite pose was savasana! (That’s always at the end where you lie on your mat totally relaxed.) However, the instructor said something I really liked: “This is not a class of joyless striving.” That’s good news because “joyless striving” does not sound like fun. I was encouraged to return to child pose (above) if holding some of the positions was too difficult for me. Actually getting into some of the positions was too difficult for me! I may spend quite a bit of time in child pose.
The studio is very pleasant and well equipped. There were six participants in the class which lasts about 70 to 75 minutes. I would guess that half of the class is about my age. I sort of regret giving up the Bikram yoga a few years ago. Maybe I wouldn’t feel like that old garden hose, but I’m going back Wed. and becoming a yogi!
Walked this morning. That’s good. Forgot my sunglasses AGAIN. That’s not so good. Some of these habits are hard to form!
I’m thinking of checking on a yoga class at the Y or the rec center. The three of us tried Bikram yoga a few years ago (90 minutes at 105 degrees), but the drive to the class is pretty far, it’s very HOT and the carpet odor is not inviting. It’s also terribly time consuming because there’s nowhere you can go but home to the shower after the class; however, Bikram yoga is a great work out. Another option is water aerobics at the community pool. Refreshing but not very demanding. Hmmmm.
Also bought a big bottle of teeth whitening rinse. I have used it in the past (different brand), but it’s been a while. It seems like it made my teeth sensitive after a few weeks. Maybe the tooth paste company has overcome that side effect by now. We’ll see.