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Health Department column: Healthy motions

By Steve Joslin

Rowan County Health Department

It happens every day to many of us. We go home from work, tired from the day’s toils. Our energy level is low, but we keep going because there are things we have to do. Cook a meal to feed our families, clean up our kitchens, and assure our children attend to homework. Then, thankfully, we are able to sit on the couch to catch the evening news. Finally, we are a body at rest!

Over 300 years ago, a young mathematician named Isaac Newton described three universal laws of motion. These laws laid the foundation for classical mechanics and contributed too many of the advances during the pending Industrial Revolution. The first of these laws of motion, sometimes called the law of inertia, begins with: “An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.”

As I sat on my couch the other night, I thought about how easy it was just to stay at rest. I began to feel the news was nagging me with negative stories. I watched commercial after commercial about how this medicine would help me and how that drug was what I needed to feel better. I was exhausted, but this was depressing. I needed something positive. I needed to feel better without taking drugs. I wondered if I was about to be acted upon by an “unbalanced force.” “Want to go for a walk,” my wife asked? “Yes,” I said, “Let’s get in motion!”

How do we go from our everyday motions to “healthy motions”? Nike says, “Just Do It.” Oh, if it were only that easy. My father was fond of saying, “Nothing worthwhile is easy.” I used to hate it when he said that, because it usually meant hard work. I love it now, because I’m feeling it. Getting up and getting in motion is not easy, but the health benefits are enormous. Here are some steps we all can take to move in healthier directions:

  1. Think about something you don’t like about yourself, or what you want to change and improve.
  2. Set a goal and make it attainable. Something simple and easy; take small steps. Pick something you feel you want to change for yourself — Perhaps it will be to start exercising and walking.
  3. List all the great reasons why you picked that goal. Was it to lose body fat or lower your blood pressure for a healthier heart?
  4. Think about the bigger picture and keep the end in mind.
  5. Get support and positive feedback from friends and family, invite them to join you. They can be healthy motivators.
  6. If you are over 50 years old and have not seen your doctor in some time, check to insure you are fit to begin exercising.
  7. Start your exercise program. Make sure it is something you enjoy.
  8. Be slow and deliberate and make the change. Stick with it and make it a routine part of your life.

I am grateful to my dogs for helping to keep me healthier. I spend at least an hour every day walking them. The pace is good for me, and most invigorating if we spot a cat, deer, turkey or rabbit along the way. I tire out long before they do. The walks I truly enjoy, however, are the ones I take in the evenings with my wife. It’s a chance to talk about our days and de-stress. We always seem to return home after our walks feeling tired, but so much better about things. Ah, the magic of endorphins and a body in healthy motion.

Joslin is allied health manager for the Rowan County Health Department.

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