A vigorous five-mile walk will do more good for an
unhappy but otherwise healthy adult than all the medicine
and psychology in the world.
– Paul Dudley White
“Twirl!” Each night I train our dog, Booker. And by train I mean shamelessly plead with him to do a few simple tricks before rewarding him with a treat… or ten. Depending on the proffered treat he may or may not lift his paw to shake my hand. He may or may not sit. Or lay down. Or twirl. That’s the kind of boy he is. He’s not moving unless it’s totally worth it.
And, sometimes, he’s super snooty and drops the treat out of his mouth like I just gave him something gag-worthy, which I find rather insulting. I’m a fair and square person. Twirl for me, and you get something good in exchange. As it turns out, however, twirling is in and of itself the reward! Who knew?
The other day I was reading about the importance of movement in our lives. (At this point, you may be raising an eyebrow and wondering why that comes as a newsflash to me.) Well, it’s less of an “I never knew that before!” thing and more of an “ah, that’s making a lot of sense,” thing. Do we need to have another chat about judging me? Anyway…
Dr. Joan Vernikos, the author of Sitting Kills, Moving Heals, tells the story of 77-year-old John Glenn requesting to go back into space. No one of Glenn’s age had gone into space before, but because he was in shape and doing all the required training that the younger astronauts were doing, he was permitted to be on the shuttle Discovery.
After a safe flight and return, all the astronauts submitted to extensive testing. Glenn’s physical condition was no better or worse than the others. However, the weightlessness of outer space had left them all with a temporary loss of balance, decreased cardiac output, loss of muscle mass, and a decrease in bone density.
Dr. Vernikos assessed that we are designed to move our bodies through gravity. Therefore, when we live lives where we sit for hours, are bedridden, or merely inactive, we do more damage to our health than realized.
My daughter takes her health seriously. Because she has a career that includes a lot of potential sitting-at-a-desk time, she began to notice her back increasingly bothered her. She’d love to have a walking desk—one where you are on a treadmill-type device as you do your work—but for now, has opted to stand while she works. Problem solved? Maybe not.
According to Dr. Christiane Northrup, standing all day is not the answer either. https://www.drnorthrup.com/practice-self-care-strategies/
“The answer is moving your body through the gravitational field of the earth. Regularly. That means getting up about six times per hour if sitting at a desk. Or you can stand while working on your computer–and then do squats regularly.”
On a personal note, when I was in college and doing mountains of homework that I’m sure my professors treasured, I’d sit on one of those big exercise balls. Bouncing every once in awhile seemed to help my energy, my back, and my creative process.
Hmmm. Note to self: I need to find where I put that ball and get back to my bouncing! It’s important to keep moving.
P.S. We are out of milk. And dog treats.
However you choose to move… dance, walk, jiggle, swim…do it often. The rewards will be far-reaching and much more valued than the rewards given to a particular dog who shall go nameless. BOOKER!