Finding ways to increase physical activity is important to mental health, too.
Recently I signed up to be on a Walk Kansas team. In the past I have been on teams and enjoy the spirit of what it is about. I’m not part of a walking group—not because I’m anti-social—but because I enjoy the aspects of having the freedom to think and even utter a few words aloud as I’m on the trail.
Taking time for one’s mental self is critical I think as the world becomes a much smaller place. The challenges of health are intertwined with important family matters and spiritual needs. With competition from social media, television, and internet it can be difficult to get away from the noise to focus on aspects that are more important.
Mostly I walk after work during the work week but have occasionally put some time in over the lunch hour, too. I usually will put in a longer walk on a weekend but that varies depending on house and yard activities.
Taking time for one’s self can never be overstated. The many friends I have in farming and ranching get plenty of exercise working with livestock, fixing fence or repairing equipment. However, more of them have also realized the importance of ramping up on cardiovascular activities—sometimes following a candid conservation with a physician or their wife—or from the observation of parent who may have struggled with his or her health later in life.
The stories often told are different from my own. Mine came from a conversation with a doctor nearly 20 years ago who told me that at the rate I was going with my lifestyle it could lead to greater health complications beyond Type 2 diabetes. I took that advice and received the full support of my late father and mother and many family and friends who were encouraging about the importance of good nutrition and the benefits of regular exercise.
In the High Plains it is not always easy to get regular exercise or at times find the right diet. The weather can make it impossible to spend much time outside.
As I plod along at times, I think to myself about the importance of an exercise bike or a treadmill but have not bought one. Thankfully as I visit with my cardiologist and my physician they have not recommended I need one yet—with the caveat that I keep at it as best I can and control my weight. Yes, I need to find ways to eat more nutritious meals but I have made some progress over time.
One of the nuggets from the Walk Kansas newsletter is the tips on how to eat healthier meals and snacks that avoid sugar. Each year I will try one or two and they occasionally stick with me. I need that exercise because of the moments when I give into temptation to a slice of pie and a scoop of ice cream, which I never regret.
The aging process is not one to be taken lightly as I learned many years ago and I try to balance it with the philosophy that I need to enjoy life too.
As I’m on my walk path I find that the stress release is wonderful. Much like the farmers and ranchers who like to hunt, fish, or play golf and tennis. Don’t we all need a break from stress of today’s affairs?
If you are thinking about a plan to significantly ramp up your exercise—and you have not had a physical in a while—it is always a good idea to visit with a doctor. Once you have the clearance—it all starts with the first step and, if you are like me, you will be glad because it opens new doors to your mental outlook, too.
Dave Bergmeier can be reached 620-227-1822 or [email protected].