Just 30 minutes a day

Tennis shoes

Still Life of Tennis Shoes

Today I pushed myself further than ever before in my exercise regimen. I turned on the treadmill.

Actually, I’m getting better about exercising. I won’t go so far as to say that I like exercise, but we’re doing okay. Sure, we’ve had our differences over the years. There were times when I told exercise to get lost, but I always came crawling back. There were times when I was overly obsessed with exercise, but I got past that, too.

Now, it’s just a simple, steady relationship, more or less the equivalent of a heart-healthy routine of walking 30 minutes a day.

You joggers and marathon-runners are laughing, I bet. But there are lots of studies that show walking just 30 minutes a day (sounds like a TV commercial, I know) has huge physical and mental health benefits.

The health benefits alone are pretty amazing. You can increase your cardiovascular fitness, strengthen your bones, reduce body fat, improve blood pressure and boost endurance just by walking! Walking can also reduce your risk of developing heart disease, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and breast and colon cancer.

The American Heart Association says walking is “the simplest positive change you can make to effectively improve your heart health.” I believe it!

I need only look at my dad, who will turn 90 later this year, to see the benefits. Every morning, except Sundays, he gets up early and walks 2-3 miles with his walking club at Greenspring. They walk year-round. Even his bum knee hasn’t deterred him from his walking.

Now that’s inspiration!

But, wait, that’s not all, as they say on late-night TV. There are even more benefits to walking!

You feel better. Studies show that walking results in a better night’s sleep. It decreases stress, improves your memory and boosts your mood. It gets you out of your work routine. It helps you clear your head and focus.

Mason Currey, who wrote “Daily Rituals: How Artists Work,” discovered that many famous creative people had a habit of taking daily walks. A lot of composers took walks, including Beethoven, Mahler and Tchaikovsky.

I find that ideas for this blog pop into my head when I’m exercising, or maybe the solution to a problem I’ve been wrestling with will come to me. It’s great for boosting creativity.

Of course, what gets me are all of the bad things I eat. I never met a cookie, brownie or bag of chips that I didn’t like. So good exercise habits have to be supported by healthy eating habits and a good night’s rest. If you can get those three in balance, there’s a strong possibility that you could live as long as a . . . famous composer?

No, you really don’t want to live as long as a famous composer. Trust me, they had short lives. I’ve already outlived Beethoven, Mahler and Tchaikovsky.

Poor Tchaikovsky. Currey reports that the composer walked precisely two hours each day. Tchaikovsky feared that if he finished his walk just a few minutes early, a great misfortune would befall him. I guess he was right because he died at age 53. Some say it was from cholera, others say he killed himself. I say it’s because he should have walked just 30 minutes a day.

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