Good news can push you out the door, too
The note from the doctor’s office came with some news I wasn’t expecting.
That’s OK … it was unexpectedly good.
Blood pressure: lower than last year. Cholesterol level: lower. Triglycerides: lower.
I was surprised because I hadn’t made a conscious effort to improve my lifestyle since my annual physical a year ago. Granted, I had stopped putting butter and salt on my bacon years ago, but the health benefits of that have probably shown up already.
Still, I knew I had been granted a reprieve from dietary restrictions and Lipitor, and that’s why I stopped to think about the handwritten note at the bottom of the lab report: "30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five times a week."
I haven’t intentionally gotten 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at one time since ninth-grade gym class, but since my health … based on the numbers … was better than a year ago, I recognized an opportunity.
It also happened that the lab report showed up on a day when I was fed up with winter, and I vowed that, when the weather turned nice, I would become a walker.
Even though I tried to talk myself out of it, when the temperature hit 70 degrees two weeks ago, I reluctantly made myself walk.
I laced up a pair of battered sneakers that were still tinted green from the role they played last summer as lawn-mowing shoes. No need to buy expensive walking shoes if they’re only going to be used once.
It wasn’t Grandma’s Marathon, but it felt good: a rapid walk down the road and back, fast enough to get my heart pumping. Maybe it was the knowledge that I was doing something healthful; maybe it was because six months of winter had come to an end.
I’ll admit, my legs were sore the next morning.
But as they say, it was a good sore.
Being a devout list maker, I knew that if I were going to continue walking, I’d need to translate my walk into something I could visualize: two miles a day is 14 miles a week. That’s like walking to Blooming Prairie.
A hundred miles? Hello, Minneapolis. Two hundred fifty miles? Welcome to Duluth.
Dedicated mall walkers who tally their miles by the hundreds and thousands are probably shaking their heads and thinking "amateur." Nonetheless, the longest journey begins with a single step, and my mileage is starting to add up: Between my neighborhood walks, the occasional walk around the Mill Pond and the March of Dimes walk a week ago, I’m passing through Bixby right about now.
A number of years ago, I talked to a man who had dedicated his life to walking, having logged enough miles to circle Earth and then some. He claimed that every minute spent walking adds one minute to your life. I don’t know if there is medical evidence to support that, but I’ve remembered it, and his point was well taken: 30 minutes spent walking has to be better for you than sitting in front of the television with a quart of Double Fudge Ripple and a bag of Cheez Doodles.
I’ve started to look forward to walking, and my goal is to have my mileage number surpass my cholesterol number by the end of summer.
Incidentally, I just added two more miles to the list.
Next stop: Owatonna.
Dan Conradt, a lifelong Mower County resident, lives in Austin with his wife, Carla Johnson, and their son.