I got up this morning and made a pot of coffee. Poured some in my travel mug and walked outside. It was warm, sunny and a bit muggy. Perfect weather. So I started walking. Just me, my coffee and a pair of green crocs. (With pink sweatpants. I was a fashion riot) It felt so good so I kept going. All the way around my country block. I walked past the farm around the block and got moo-ed at. Said hello to the babies. Enjoyed a bit of sun. And sipped my hot coffee. No phone. No camera. No iPod. Just “Under the boardwalk” playing on repeat in my head like it has been for days (no idea why. please make it stop.) and my thoughts. It was wonderful.
Every day I get up with just enough time to get get a shower, get dressed and run out the door with my coffee to work. Then, I get caught up in the craziness of my day and by the time I get home I am pooped out and there is no exercising or doing anything enjoyable besides cooking dinner. I do a lot of sitting at work. This is surprising to me since I have to travel to my patients and not the other way around but the majority of my time is spent sitting and looking through charts and writing notes and orders. My iPhone’s steps tracker confirms this for me. Sad.
So when I started walking this morning it felt really good. I could almost feel all of the ignored muscles engaging as I walked my slightly hilly route. I didn’t walk fast but it was more than a stroll. I paid attention to the sound of the gravel under my feet and the wind and the cars. And the cows. And as I walked I thought about all of the people who can’t do this. Like all of the people that I take care of everyday. Who sit around in wheelchairs and geri-chairs or rarely even get out of bed let alone step foot outside the facility for anything other than a medical appointment. Let me tell you, it made me want to walk forever.
See, I joke a lot about the type of nursing home patient I will be someday (I want to be the crazy demented kind. Liven things up a bit…) but the reality of that situation is fairly harsh. These are people who can’t take care of themselves anymore. Who want to live in the home they shared with their families for years or their apartment with their little dog but who are no longer safe to do so and don’t have anyone to step in and help. They give up everything, almost always including the little dog or cat they love, and now live in a “facility” with a roommate they don’t know who might steal their underwear or climb into bed with them in the middle of the night. (This happens all the time!) There is NO privacy. They need “permission” and assistance to go anywhere off their “unit.” The name nursing “home” is really a misnomer for the facilities I visit. Sure there is one place that is better than the others where “residents” can actually bring their pets and it has a much more homey feel but it is still a place where people lose a considerable amount of their humanness and still become someone to “treat” rather than just someone who lives there. And that’s just it. Are they LIVING there? It seems to me that often they are just there existing until they die. It can be incredibly heartbreaking to watch if you really stop and think about it.
Which brings me back to my walk. I CAN walk. I CAN WALK! I can walk for miles and miles and miles! It’s awesome and I need to practice it more frequently so that I never lose that ability. We ALL need to practice this more frequently. It’s the cheapest, easiest exercise you can do. No special equipment of membership needed. Just weather appropriate attire and maybe a water bottle (or coffee mug in my case). While you’re at it, practice standing on one leg. Balance is a HUGE issue as we get older. Older people who fall have about a 50% mortality rate in the first year after breaking their hip. 50%! Crawl around on the floor so you can stand up taller and can move more freely. Read THIS article at Outside for more information. I tried crawling up my driveway this morning (thankfully no one could see me) and it was kind of fun! Just stop sitting there!
This is my new goal. Keep moving. I’ve debated getting a fitness tracker device of some kind but can’t make up my mind. I just want to keep it simple yet regain my fitness. As much as I joke, I don’t actually want to be a crazy woman in an nursing home: I want to be a crazy woman living life until my time is up. Sitting around on my duff all the time is not conducive to that goal so things have got to change.
So please go for a walk today. Because you can. And they can’t.
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