The company I work for provides annual health examinations and I am a regular participant. The results from this year’s exam were something of a wake-up call and provided personal insight in two areas: 1) if health improvements are to be realized, several personal lifestyle changes are necessary and, 2) when it comes to exercise, I can make prolific, creative, and compelling excuses for being lazy at a world-class level.
One of the areas requiring change is physical activity, as in daily exercise. A few years ago, some friends of mine at the office purchased Fitbit exercise trackers and we had great fun challenging each other for supremacy in daily and weekly step totals. One friend that I had a big rivalry with once told me that his plan was to wait for me to go to bed at night at which point he would check my daily step total. No matter how many steps were needed or what time at night it was, his promise was that he was going to walk up and down his street and around his house until his step total topped mine, even if by a single step. Great fun!
Life is for the living and simply “living” requires energy. Long days at work, difficult family situations, commuting in stop-and-go traffic, for me, are all significant challenges to a steady and healthy daily exercise regimen. Tired at the end of a long day? Instead of coming home to exercise, it is much easier to shed the work clothes, put on something more comfortable, listen to stories about the work day, have some dinner, and go to bed.
With those thoughts in mind, a once active, Fitbit-oriented exercise regimen begins a downward trend. Coming home each evening fewer and fewer steps are logged. Even the immense pressure of a passionate “welcome home!” greeting by excited dogs with happy, expectant faces and glittering, hopeful eyes is overcome by the weariness of work and the effects of exposure to negative energy. Daily step totals fall to 5,000 steps with some days not even hitting that mark. The excuses are readily available, rational, and easy to accept. The onset of a sedentary lifestyle begins and seems reasonable given the circumstances. The consequences of low activity are irrationally considered to be something that will happen to someone else, certainly not me.
At its peak, my daily step totals easily surpassed 10,000, sometimes even 15,000 steps. One weekend day (or was it a vacation day?) over 40,000 steps were achieved. A Fitbit group can provide great motivation for exercise, however there is no pressure quite like that applied by dogs who are used to being walked. Many of my previous exercise-oriented walks occurred while attached to dog leashes with four-legged friends leading the way. The results from my health exam contained some concerning news, however they also included guidance for taking action. A primary recommendation is to significantly increase daily exercise. That I can do, and with a few small schedule tweaks, can lay the foundation for a solid, long-term commitment. To the delight of my furry friends, the leashes have come out of retirement and the “Road Crew” is back in action!