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The other day I had an invitation from a group of employees that caused me to have an Oprah Ah-ha moment. I was invited to go hiking on the San Joaquin River Gorge. It was a 9- mile hike and since I’ve always considered myself pretty fit, I wrote back an email with an enthusiastic “Yes!” I used an exclamation point, darn it. That’s Internet lingo for "I’m excited. I mean it. I’ll be there.”
But when my alarm rang that Saturday morning, I did some mental backsliding. I felt sluggish. Could this be a sudden case of Fresno fever, I thought? Then, I started to think of all the errands I had to do that morning. Better to be a responsible person than do something frivolous, right? I did such a good job convincing myself I shouldn’t go, that I didn’t.
I dropped off coffee to the merry band of hikers, then Sammy and I drove back home. In the car it hit me. I wasn’t the fit, energetic, healthy person I thought I was. Somehow, I had turned into – and I can barely stand to say it – A couch potato.
A research study recently published by the University of Sydney’s school of public health shows what happens to us when we sit for an extended period of time. Insulin and glucose levels are higher on a day that includes long periods of uninterrupted sitting compared to days when we take periods of light or moderate intensity breaks. Not a tiny bit higher, but a hefty 20%. High glucose levels increase the risk for diabetes and, to make it worse, sitting lowers our calorie burn, making it easier for last night’s piece of pie to show up on our backside the next morning. AJ Jacob’s, who wrote the book “Drop Dead Healthy” uses a very colorful way to describe how bad this is. He calls it - “Paula Dean Glazed-Bacon-Donut-Bad”. So, what should we do?
Jacob’s says that he tried a lot of things in his experiment in getting healthy but the thing that worked the best for him was “contextual exercise”, meaning, when faced with a choice, he opts for the one that causes him to physically move the most. Elevator or stairs? Stairs. Toss the dog a ball, or take Lassie for a walk? Walk. He even turned running errands into actually “running” his errands. But this answer seems so easy that it seems, ..well, wrong.
I think it goes one step further. It’s about making the choice a habit. Charles Duhigg describes some great, simple advice in his book, “The Power of Habit – Why We Do What We Do In Life and In Business”. Here are 3 steps to what he calls – The Habit Loop, which we might just brand- The C-To It list:
I think it would be inspiring to hear from some of you who’ve been able to make –Just Move - a part of your lifestyle. If you are a hard-core exercise fanatic, we can learn from you too, so please share your secrets. As for me – the next time the C-Fitters call – I’ll be there.