Two years ago studies came out that identified one of the most dangerous items we use daily. It is an item that we all enjoy and doesn’t seem that dangerous at all. It isn’t cigarettes or liquor. It isn’t fast cars or fast women! One of the most dangerous things for people is the chair you are sitting in right now as you read this. Yes, I too am sitting in a chair as I write this. We all love to sit in chairs. Chairs are in front of TV’s and that is a glorious reason for sitting in a chair. Chairs and couches turn us into potatoes and there lies the danger. Overweight and inactivity are sure paths to an early end.
Today as I was sitting on the couch watching football, I saw the NFL logo and the slogan, “Play 60” on every field. One of the NFL adopted causes is Play 60, a program to encourage at least 60 minutes of activity for children in school. When I was in school, I didn’t need an advocate to promote 60 minutes of activity in a day. I didn’t have the distractions that face our children and grandchildren today. I rode my bike to my friend’s house. We played sandlot ball. We climbed trees and played at various games. I remember spending many days exploring the mystery of the woods behind our home, following a little trickle of a stream for great distances to see where it went.
Young people today have many forms of entertainment which do not involve physical activity. The variety of electronic devices that entertain our children today competes directly with physical activity. Once you fall into the trap of sitting, physical activity becomes more difficult. Muscles atrophy and weight increases. This all makes moving more difficult, if not painful. It is a disaster for our children to start out so early in life with this challenge. It is an unfortunate truth for those of us who are now retiring to find out that what we have dreamed of all our lives will end our lives before our time.
I don’t know about you, but my idea of retirement always involved a picture of relaxing in a rocking chair. I am guessing that came from seeing my grandparents sitting in their rocking chairs. It sounds like a great life to sit and watch the world go by, but it really isn’t that great. That rocking chair will kill you.
It doesn’t matter what you do to exercise. If you can manage any motion at all, you should engage yourself daily in some activity. Walk, swim, garden, bowl, golf, yoga, Wii, Pilates, or Zumba, it all counts. It all raises your metabolism, burns calories and helps to keep your muscles, heart and lungs in good working condition.
Cold weather is settling in across the country. I love our Wii Fit program. The exercises are not exceedingly strenuous but do work on basic challenges for older adults. As you and I get older, the small muscles in our legs lose their strength and flexibility. Our ability to balance ourselves slowly deteriorates. We don’t notice it until our ability to maneuver and balance becomes a serious hindrance to our movement. Doing yoga or playing the balance games on the Wii helps to restore the strength and control of these muscles. The Wii gives good feedback, indicating the level of your success at each activity. We take the Wii with us in the motor home and try to use it as often as possible. Even if you can’t be outdoors, you can benefit by using the Wii or other exercise programs indoors. The point is, don’t just sit there.
Now the disclaimer: Before starting any exercise program, consult a physician. The New Year is coming and many people put exercise programs into their list of resolutions. Often this results in a brief period of activity which results in abandoned equipment and a feeling of failure when the program is abandoned. Start small with your exercise program and fit it into your regular daily routine where it fits best. Ten minutes of activity on a regular basis is better 30 minutes a day for several weeks which ends when your schedule no longer fits that much activity. All exercise programs wax and wane. Schedules change, injuries occur, enthusiasm lags. The important thing is to stay with it as best you can for as long as you are able. Live long and prosper. Have a happy New Year!