Well, this Wednesday I am to begin my epic 270 mile paddle. Wish me luck! Better yet, donate to the American Diabetes Association at my blog - www.longislandpaddle.com.
You know, you don't have to paddle hundreds of miles to change your life. You could start by just taking a walk. In his book, "The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business," author Charles Duhigg talks about the how changing some of the habits of your life will change your life. He also says that changing certain habits seem "count more" when it comes to achieving a major life overhaul.
As it turns out, one of these "keystone habits" is exercise. In a quote from the book Duhigg remarks, "When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. It’s not completely clear why. But for many people, exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change."
I believe that walking is the best way to start an exercise habit. I talk a lot about walking. It not only is a great exercise but it is an incredible way to improve your overall well being. As you may already be aware, stress is a huge contributor to being over weight. A simple walk is often enough for me to clear my head and prepare me to better deal with the stresses of my life.
Do I have stresses? Just a few. The difference is how I handle them. When I walk, kayak, rock climb or engage in any other of my various actions, I meditate. It allows me time to first calm my mind which prepares me to better anticipate and work out the problems of my day and, ultimately my life. I feel better both physically and mentally. Moving the body has long been a prescription to fight depression. For me, it is a prescription for success as well.
Walking can also be healing to relationships. For instance, you may not know this but teenagers can be difficult. I have two. Are they difficult? Sometimes. Although they are nearly adults now, when they were younger, we had some rough moments. No matter how unsettled things became with them and no matter how angry we got at each other, we made it a point to take our family walk. When we got back, the problems seemed to be less. This simple walk allowed us the time to consider each other’s point of view. Those walks always lead to healing and understanding.
I believe that we became better parents and our children have been able to accomplish more because of some simple strolls. How about this, my sister-in-law has decided to walk a 5k in honor of her daughter's birthday. Just six months ago, she could barely walk 500 feet without being in pain. As she says, "I am giving my daughter the gift of my health for her birthday." What does her college age daughter say? According to Facebook, she says, "Thanks mommy. I love you!"
You can't get better than that. Whether you are looking to be a better parent or a better life partner. One of the best things you can do for your relationship is to get off the couch, go outside and take a walk. As it turns out, while moving your body is important to mental and physical wellbeing, doing out of doors brings even more impact to the activity. Maybe I'll save that discussion for another post.
Thanks, be well - Russ