By June Mathews
For the Tribune
I recently heard somebody say that sitting is the new smoking, implying lack of physical activity can be as detrimental to one’s health as puffing on a truckload of cigarettes.
While sound bites like that one is something this chronic non-exerciser could do without, I know the truth of it firsthand. Though medication has proven effective in dealing with my unruly blood pressure, I’ve discovered the real key to keeping the numbers down – for me, at least – is movement.
Of course, the cardiologist told me all along that exercise would help, but control freaks like me are compelled by our very nature to makes these judgments – all judgments – on our own. I couldn’t help but notice, however, that on active days my readings were better, and I finally had to admit the doctor knew what he was talking about. As the saying goes, numbers don’t lie.
But that doesn’t mean I became any more attracted to the idea of daily exercise than I was before. To be perfectly honest, I like sitting, and I’m very good at it. So, the inconsistent (nearly non-existent) fitness habits have continued.
For some reason, though – which probably has a lot to do with losing a parent at an early age to heart disease made worse by tobacco use – the sitting-and-smoking analogy struck a harsh chord of reality with me. I’m clearly not getting any younger, and if my family history is any indication, I’m pretty much living on borrowed time, smoker or not. And for the record, I’m not.
But I decided some motivation to get into shape might be in order.
So last Saturday evening, Jimmie and I went shopping for one of those electronic activity trackers, something I’d been thinking might encourage me to incorporate more movement throughout the day.
Let me preface any further comments by saying I also thought purchasing a treadmill, a rowing machine, a skiing machine, a stationary bicycle, a step bench, several exercise videos, a jump rope, at least four sets of dumbbells, and various other forms of exercise equipment over the past 40 years would accomplish the same thing. And they always did for a week or so. Then it would dawn on me that I was doing more work than the equipment, which really didn’t seem right, and down to the basement it would go.
Anyway, I headed to the shopping center the other night expecting to spend around $20. I mean, I’ve seen about a million of those plastic pedometers while standing in checkout lines at the local discount stores, and they’re normally a dollar or two.
Since activity trackers appear to basically be one of those pedometers with a wristband attached, I figured they’d be cheap. But boy, was I wrong. I wound up spending a whole lot more than I’d planned.
Then to add insult to the injury inflicted upon my debit card, the pricey little gizmo required downloading an app onto my smartphone to sync it with the tracker. To give a you clue where I stand in terms of digital savvy, I barely understand that last sentence I typed; fortunately, however, Jimmie has a bit more of a knack for such things.
At any rate, we managed to muddle through the setup process together, with him reading from the manual while I tapped on the screens. It wasn’t so difficult as it was aggravating, but we finally got the job done.
So now I’m sporting this gadget on my wrist, counting on it to magically turn me into a physically fit Superwoman by this time next week. So far, it hasn’t done much to warrant what I paid for it, but I remain optimistic.
After all, it’s a smart device, so when I threatened to banish it to the basement if I don’t see some results soon, I’m sure it understood. Now whether or not I convinced it to work is a different matter altogether.
Email June Mathews at firstname.lastname@example.org.