Most of my life, I’ve been a couch potato. I love to read, write, do puzzles, listen to music, watch television and surf the Internet – all sedentary activities.
Along with being unathletic (I was always picked last in gym even when I called the popular kids my friends), I felt uncomfortable participating in sports. It felt like work, and my mind didn’t engage in the activities. Besides, when you miss catching a ball or returning a serve, your muscles never memorize those moves, and your confidence falters.
This resulted in a chubby figure when I reached puberty. Although I loved clothes, make-up and regretted missing the Farrah Fawcett-hair years (not predicting the wave of big hair to come), I struggled with the curling iron and appeared dumpy, afraid to wear cool clothing that drew attention to my rounding figure.
A leisurely swimmer and casual bicyclist, I started taking walks as a teenager, partly to lose weight. I donned my plastic, bright yellow Walkman, popped in a tape and strode around my neighborhood. After a while, I orchestrated a defined route and walked, enjoying the solitude, fresh air and concentrating solely on my foot steps and the vibe of the music.
This habit followed me into adulthood whenever I needed a de-stressor or to break up the day. Momentarily, I forget my problems but can calmly reflect on what’s currently happening in my life and either try to resolve it or manage to let go of it – at least temporarily.
I prefer walking alone, outdoors around a designated route in my neighborhood. When my daughter was a toddler, I took brief walks just for a change of scenery for us and continued with my son when I discovered exactly what streets to take in order to get a decent 25-minute walk. Once both kids attended school, I made a greater effort to get exercise. If I couldn’t walk outside, I found different walking programs on cable that I used during inclement weather.
I tend toward anxiety and occasional depression about pretty much anything. However, I noticed that taking a walk relieves many of those feelings, and I can take charge of whatever is going on and not care about the sillier worries that don’t deserve my precious time. Maybe I’m relishing the endorphins that wash over my worries.
Recently, I started using a pedometer. First, it was through our health insurance in order to earn health dollars. Checking the amount of daily steps grew addictive, and I competed with my own record to beat it.
If there were stairs, I took them. When I gabbed on the phone, I paced the floor, eager to gain more steps. I lost the first pedometer and invested in another that tracked calories and altitude as well. Using that little device encouraged me to relinquish my role as couch potato.
I still love my sedentary hobbies, but a little walk goes a long way.