January 2024: Four parts

To Your Health

Well, here we are! Y2K wasn’t a disaster (remember those dire predictions?) and now it’s 24 years later. Let’s make it a good one.

This New Year’s column is Four Parts. Please don’t be in a hurry when you read this.

PART ONE

Posture. Improving it is the simplest and quickest path to improving our appearance and some of our healthy bodily functions (digestion, breathing…). I’d like you to actually do this as you read. Stand up. Please. Imagine a string coming from the top of your head to the ceiling and it’s pulling you up. You’re dangling like a marionette. Stand like that for a bit, close your eyes and really feel the relaxed weightlessness of being suspended. You’re taller. Now think about lifting the bottom of your ribcage up and away from your pelvis. Create separation there. You just gained another inch or so in height while activating important core muscles. Feel relaxed as you stand there. Remember those two things to have better posture. We’ll come back to this but now…

PART TWO

I’m guessing you’ve at least thought about meditation, maybe even tried it, maybe also decided sitting still like that just wasn’t for you. I get it. Here’s a little taste to help you decide whether you’d benefit by adding it. Meditation isn’t complicated. Know this, value this: “Not being easily distracted in everything we do improves our performance in everything we do.” Let’s see where we are now. Choose a meaningful word or phrase or person or object or whatever you want. Your choice. Close your eyes and focus on your choice for just one minute. Set your phone timer for one minute. C’mon, take one little minute out of your busy, busy life and actually do this. I’ll take a break now while you do.

Welcome back. You couldn’t even stay focused on something you chose for one little minute, right? You were repeatedly drifting elsewhere. Because our minds will resist being disciplined. Practicing focus is meditation. Returning to our focus after we’re constantly distracted is meditation. We’ll come back to this too but now…

PART THREE

If you asked me what is the best physical activity you could add in 2024 to benefit your body fat percent, blood pressure, heart health, to reduce the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes or stroke, strengthen bone density/muscles, boost your immune system, increase daily energy, improve mood, memory, mental cognition, sleep, balance, coordination and lower anxiety/stress levels, the answer is clearly proven for all the above. It’s walking. Daily. Ideally in the morning. Ideally outside in nature all seasons. (Hey, it’s Virginia, our four seasons are virtually mild). Daily. Walk 15 minutes in any direction, turn around and walk back. Daily. How fast? How far? Doesn’t matter. However you like to walk. Make it pleasant. Enjoy it. Work up to 30 minutes. Daily. Can’t fit it in your schedule? Bah! Way too many folks do it for that to be true. Make it your priority. If you want to, of course you can.

PART FOUR

Review Part One, Review Part Two, and when you Part Three walk, because you will repeatedly slide back into a more slouched, slumped posture as you’re distracted, bringing your posture back is your walking meditation. You’ll probably never master this but with practice you will improve your performance both physically and mentally.

Or you can finish this column, not add this to your daily life and spend the next year going a bit downhill. I’m not being dramatic here, I’m telling it like it is. As you’ve already learned in this short, short life, we just don’t get to stay the same. We either decline a little, a lot, or we take charge of our lives and improve ourselves. That’s how living works.

Happy 2024! Let’s make it a year, like all of ’em, to improve ourselves.

About Brian Cole 68 Articles
Brian Cole is owner of Personal Training Associates with studios in Oyster Point and Port Warwick. He can be reached at 757-599-5999 or on his website at www.briancoleandassociates.net.