New Year, New Attitude

New Year, New Attitude

– by Jim Shanman, for the CCBC

2012. Already? How – exactly – did that happen?

Do you make new years resolutions? Do you keep them?

If you’re like me – and apparently a lot of other folks are – it probably sounds something like this:

“I’m going to exercise more”. And in January I do, only to find that life got in the way and before I know it summer’s here and, well, you know the rest.

Or this: “I’m going to read more”. January is filled with trips to the library and visits to a favorite bookstore or shopping for used books on Amazon. Then February comes with the library’s past due notices and the bills are due from the extra shopping, and, once again, life has gotten in the way and at best I’ve read three chapters.

And my personal favorite: “I’m going to lay off sweets”. And I do – in January. But then Valentines Day comes, my birthday, fathers day… you get the picture.

As it turns out most people – according to a Kelloggs Special K survey in Canada – make them (68%) and most (55%) don’t keep them.  The number one reason? We aim too high. We strive to become tri-athletes, saints and super models. It’s hard work and there’s a good reason we’re average Joe’s in the first place.

This year, I’m keeping it simple. “I resolve to move more”. That’s right, m-o-v-e more. That’s it. Not enter a marathon or bike 200 miles a week or take up lacrosse or lose (fill in the space here) pounds. Just be more active. Don’t get me wrong, I’m pretty active to start with. I’m on my bike 3-4 days a week, and walking two or three others. Yet everyday I read about obesity levels and congestive heart failure and pollution and 30 minutes a day and… I’m concerned that maybe I too need to do more.

Recently, I saw Dr. Mike Evans’ video on YouTube titled: “23 ½ hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health?” (you can view it on our Web site at ccbike.org).Dr. Evans is founder of the Health Design lab at Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, an Associate Professor of Family Medicine and Public Health at the University of Toronto and a staff physician at St. Michael’s Hospital. His hypothesis is pretty basic: The best thing you can do for your health is be more active. He advocates for 30 minutes a day (as do many other experts), but he also explains that just one hour a week of exercise will cut your risk of heart disease by one half. Read that sentence again… 60 minutes per week. 50% reduction in risk.

And it doesn’t even have to be consecutive. 10 minutes here, 10 minutes there and another 10 minutes and voila! 30 minutes of exercise! Here’s an example: recently, El Marino Language School started a Walk ‘n Roll Wednesday program to encourage kids to bike and walk to school more frequently. We meet about six blocks from the campus and walk and bike together as a group. It takes about 15 minutes. Here’s the thing, the parents walk 15 minutes to school and then, that’s right, 15 minutes back to the meetup spot. 30 minutes of fun, social exercise. If that happened regularly, according to Dr. Evans, their risk of high blood pressure will decrease by 29%, progression of dementia and alzheimers will be reduced 50%, anxiety will be reduced by 48%.

So here’s my challenge to myself – and to you. Walk and bike more this year. Don’t even bother with a big overall target – just be more active. Do each of these once per week and see if you don’t notice a difference by Spring: Run one errand by bike; walk around the block before getting in your car in the morning and again before leaving from work, park 6 blocks from your school and walk the rest with your children, park at the far end of the parking lot; take stairs whenever you can, take your bike to work and ride to your lunch spot. Then, once a month plan a hike at the Scenic Overlook or Kenneth Hahn Park or a 30 minute bike ride down the Ballona Creek Bike Path.

Hippocrates had it right some 2,400 years ago: Walking is man’s best medicine

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