By Carolyn Feibig, MS, RD, LD
Spring is the perfect time to shake off those winter blues and start something new. The world is coming alive again after the cold and dark winter. Everywhere you look new life is popping up, the trees are budding, flowers are peeking through the once frosted ground, birds are chirping, even the sky seems new and bright.
Spring is the ideal time to set physical activity goals. A lot of us make New Year’s resolutions promising to get into better shape but, by the time Spring rolls around many of us have given up on those goals. Maybe the resolution is on target, but the timing does not work. January might be a great time to start cooking more or to read that book you have been carrying around but may not be the best time to rev up your physical activity. Starting a physical activity routine in January is tough. It is too dark in the morning, too dark in the late afternoon, too cold in many places but, now when everything is springing anew, we can spring into action too.
Beginning your activity in the springtime is the way to go especially if you don’t like exercise. Spring activity doesn’t feel like exercise, it feels like busting out from your winter hibernation. This is why Spring is the perfect time to start a physically active routine. We want to spend time enjoying the longer days and warmer weather. Increasing your physical activity doesn’t have to be intimidating. Do not think of exercise as going to the gym for hours, running a marathon, or going to an early morning boot camp.
Do not think that you must devote your life to exercise. The best type of exercise is the exercise you do. Let me say that again: the best type of exercise is the exercise you do. It doesn’t have to be extreme; maybe it is taking a walk after dinner.
When we start something new and, possibly something we find intimidating, we make excuses:
• I’m too busy
• It’s too expensive
• People will judge me
• I don’t like gyms
• I’m not coordinated
• I’m too tired
• I don’t have the time
Choosing an activity you enjoy makes it easier to break the excuse cycle, stick with it, and change it into something you look forward to.
Many of us find it hard to start or commit to daily activity even though we know the benefits:
• Better blood pressure
• Better blood sugar
• Improved cardiac function
• Possible weight loss/maintenance
• More energy
Finding 30 minutes every day for the recommended exercise stint is hard. Don’t worry about that. Use the time you can find. Five or 10 minutes increments actually work! Once you are in the habit of daily activity you might want to increase the time you spend doing it or even find that you miss it if you skip a day! The more consistent you are, the easier your routine becomes making it more likely you will continue.
Remember it is about increasing your everyday movement. It could be parking in the furthest spot, taking a walk after dinner, listening to music and dancing while cleaning or cooking, or even doing some form of exercise while watching TV.
Other ways to add activity:
• Take a walk around your favorite neighborhood or park
• Go on a picnic
• Plant flowers
• Walk 4 times around the perimeter of the grocery store before getting the cart
• Go to a museum
• Walk around a shopping mall before it opens
• Form a walking club at your dialysis center and walk before your shift starts
• Go online to see if there are any free activity clubs to join
Just because it doesn’t feel like exercise doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial. The more you move the better off you are. The trick is finding what works for you! Let this Spring be the one that gets you in action! Remember Newton’s First Law: A body at rest will remain at rest and a body in motion will remain in motion. Be your own force and get in motion!
Carolyn originally from Saint Louis, MO, has been a Dietitian in the Washington DC area since 2011, and is currently the Kidney Transplant Dietitian at The George Washington University Hospital. She has also worked as the Dietitian in a dialysis facility. Carolyn found her passion for renal nutrition when her nephew was born with only one working kidney. Throughout her career, Carolyn has sought opportunities to educate the general public about the importance of early detection of kidney disease and the benefits of a healthy diet and kidney health. She volunteers with The National Kidney Foundation; is on the NKF’s Capital Area Medical Advisory Board, Patient Education Committee, and the NKF’s 2018 Regional Recognized Renal Dietitian Award winner for the DC Metro Area; is a speaker for The American Kidney Fund; wrote the nutrition content for AKF’s website; has presented at the 2018 American Association of Kidney Patients’ National Conference; teaches renal nutrition to Virginia Tech (DC campus) and Mid-Atlantic Sodexo dietetic interns. In her spare time you can find Carolyn exploring Washington DC with her camera at the ready and in search of new and delicious restaurants or farmers’ markets.
This article was originally published in aakpRENALIFE, May 2019.