It’s Time to Move

Congratulations you have survived another winter in North Dakota! If you are like most you have experienced a significant decline in your physical activity over the past five to six months. The side effects of this reduced activity include mild to moderate weight gain, decreased flexibility, decreased muscle strength, higher fat diets, and a decrease in the quality of your sleep. Well enough of that. It is time to move! And it is so simple.

Simply set aside 20 minutes of your day and go for a brisk but comfortable walk. Walking has been shown to lower the risk of cardiovascular disease, improves balance, improves memory, improves sleep, curbs diabetes, and actually helps in avoiding poor diets. It is simply one of the best things that you can do for your health!

Once the 20 minute walk begins to feel comfortable add some variety of movement such as trunk rotations, single leg balance, a few single leg hops, a jumping jack or two, or how about a lunge. What you do is not that important. Altering what you do in order to make your joints move in a differently than they normally do is what is important. The brisk walk improves blood flow, and the variety of movements maintains joint health.

One last thing if you are going to walk use a good pair of shoes, you will be glad you did.

Before you try on a new pair of shoes check for these four basic signs of a good shoe.

  1. The back of the shoe (the heel cup) should be ridged and should not be able to be folded into the shoe.
  2. The shoe should only bend at the toes and not in the middle.
  3. The out sole or bottom of the shoe under the heel should not give easily.
  4. The shoe when looked at from behind should be level to the floor, not tilt either way.

Once you find a few shoes with these characteristics put them on and walk. If the shoe feels as though it is making walking easier buy that shoe. If the shoe make you feel unbalanced, uncomfortable, or creates pressure on your foot put the shoe back on the shelf.

So get some good shoes, start walking, add a variety of movements, and begin to feel the rust come off. Enjoy your time outside.

Myron Cullen

 

(Myron Cullen, MS, ATC, CSCS, is the director of CHI St. Alexius Health Occupational Medicine and Employee Assistance Program.)