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The importance of (gulp) exercise and walking

Published September 24. 2011 09:01AM

I got this email the other day about walking and exercise I'd like to share with you because it made me chuckle ...

My grandpa started walking five miles a day when he was 60. Now he's 97 years old and we don't know where he is.

I like long walks, especially when they are taken by people who annoy me.

The only reason I would take up walking is so that I could hear heavy breathing again.

I joined a health club last year, spent about 400 bucks. Haven't lost a pound. Apparently you have to go there.

Every time I hear the dirty word 'exercise', I wash my mouth out with chocolate.

The advantage of exercising every day is so when you die, they'll say, "Well, she looks good, doesn't she?"

If you are going to try cross-country skiing, start with a small country.

I know I got a lot of exercise the last few years just getting over the hill.

We all get heavier as we get older, because there's a lot more information in our heads.

Every time I start thinking too much about how I look, I just find a Happy Hour and by the time I leave, I look just fine.

I can so relate to all of those.

But seriously, the truth is, the experts say exercising and eating right are imperative for a healthy life and walking can add minutes to your life.

If that's true, I'm probably dead and just too stupid to know it.

Now if you've seen me, it's obvious I don't exercise and walk enough. It's not because I don't want to. The mind and heart are willing. It's my body that screams "NO NO!"

Take exercising.

They say if you don't break a sweat when exercising, you're not doing it hard or long enough.

I hate sweating.

End of story.

I tried an exercise regimine a few years ago. I use to do Richard Simmons' "Sweatin' to the Oldies" at least four times a week.

People tell me how invigorated they feel after exercising and how they get an endorphin rush and feel exhilarated and full of energy.

After each workout, I'd throw myself on the bed and ask when that energy and exhilaration was going to kick in because I never felt it. I was usually ready to crawl back under the covers and fall asleep in utter exhaustion!

How about walking, you ask.

I have spurs. And not the ones that go jingle jangle jingle.

I've got heel spurs in both feet, a spur on my spine and arthritis in my back. I'm good for short distances. Like from the house to the car, the car to the office and my desk to the ladies' room. OK. That might be a slight exaggeration. But I know I don't walk enough. Here's how I know.

Yesterday I read this article in the Lehigh Valley Health Network's "Healthy You" magazine, "Ready, Set, Stand." It's about people who live a sedentary lifestyle. (That would be me.)

The article says that if you sit for hours without a break, recent studies indicate even regular exercise may not be enough to counteract hours of sitting. A study in the "Journal of the American College of Cardiology" shows that people who devote more than four hours a day using a computer or watching TV, are more than twice as likely to have a major cardiac event. (Just shoot me now!)

Another study tracked the life styles of 17,000 Canadian men and women over a dozen years. It found that people who sat for most of the day were 54 percent more likely to die from heart attacks. (Which means, if I'm not dead yet, I soon will be.)

Lehigh Valley Health Network (LVHN) cardiologist, Bruce Feldman, M.D., says you need to get up and get moving to stay healthy. Doctors say a sedentary lifestyle is linked with being overweight, having diabetes or a reduced heart and lung function, increase risk for heart attack or death from heart disease. (You hear that Elizabeth? The BIG ONE!)

Their suggestions are, take hourly breaks for a brief walk or stretch. As little as five minutes may make a difference. If you don't have enough time for that, Darlene Garon, an exercise physiologist at LVHN suggests: Stand up or do knee bends while talking on the phone; rotate arm circles while scrolling through data; pump feet or do toe raises during a long meeting; walk to a co-worker's desk rather than call or email.

Dr. Feldman says that these minibreaks should be combined with mild-to-moderate daily aerobic activity to reduce the risk of long-term heart problems. Start with five to 10 minute walks and gradually build up longer.

And yes, reading this did put the fear of God in me. I actually did those things yesterday and am going to try to incorporate them in to my daily routine from now on. Who knows? I might actually break out my old Richard Simmon's exercise tape.

As for walking?

If I do it, I'll have to walk early in the morning before my brain figures out what I'm doing.

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