Fitness is a Four Letter Word


A new year! A resolve to accomplish a personal goal to improve health and well-being often comes with the New Year. Sadly, statistics show that 88% of those who make resolutions do not see them through. Patients tell me time and again, “I tried to exercise more or I tried to lose weight but I didn’t see any results so I gave up”. People are always rushing and looking for the quick fix, but a quick fix is quickly broken. Short term tactics need to be developed in order to keep you on a course for success.

If you are serious about achieving a goal related to health and fitness make it a S.M.A.R.T. goal … Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. My suggestions would be to start with something you can do because you have been doing it most of your life. WALK! Hippocrates, the father of western medicine stated simply, “Walking is Man’s Best Medicine”.

The health benefits of regular and consistent walking are well known – prevent or manage high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis; maintain a healthy weight; improve balance and coordination; improve sleep and mood.

Your walking goal can be SPECIFIC to your current status and needs. If you require a walking assistive device like a cane or walker your goal can be to get up from sitting a specific number of times per day or while using your device walk a specific amount of time each day. If the weather is not permitting an outdoor walk, try putting on some music indoors and time a brisk walking on the spot or add some stairs. You can MEASURE your walking goal in time, speed, distance, number of steps and/or heart rate. Your goal is ATTAINABLE because walking is a skill you possess and you have the necessary equipment, although footwear is a topic for another day. A goal related to walking is REALISTIC. It is functional. It gets us to and from places. Walking is TIMELY. You can stand up and start now.

Once you feel the satisfaction of achieving your goal of walking more or better, you can challenge yourself by increasing speed or time, adding the resistance of walking poles or changing your environment.

As with any new endeavor be sure to check with your health practitioner regarding your goals. If all good, then stop reading this and get up and go!

About the author: Joanne (Billings) Olsen, a Madawaska Valley native, is a Registered Physiotherapist with the College of Physiotherapists of Ontario. After 40 years of successful clinical practice and Peer Mentoring in Regulation in Southern Ontario, Joanne has returned to her roots to share what she ventured off to learn.

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