I would never say I’m an exercise addict or go out of my way to exercise. I wasn’t into sports when I was in school and can’t stand running. But there are so many ways you can exercise to help your body, to stay healthy and feel good.
Walk. Most of us are able to walk and we should be grateful that we can and take advantage of it. Walk when you can. And here is where having a safe community comes into play with our health. If you don’t have a safe neighborhood, you are not going to get out and walk to places. If you don’t have places in your neighborhood to walk to, you aren’t going to walk. If you feel scared in a parking lot, you aren’t going to park far from the entrance of where you are going. Or if the building seems unsafe, you are not going to walk up the stairwell. These are all great ways to add extra steps into your day, but we need to have the community to do this.
When we lived in New York City, we used to walk to and from all our local shops, even the grocery store. And then carry everything up four flights of stairs (we lived in a walk-up and there was no other option). I even walked to or from work as much as I could, which was about 25 blocks. I tell you what, carrying groceries up those stairs really built up my arm muscles.
In California, we got cars and did more driving around. But we made sure to walk to all the places in our neighborhood.
Cleaning the house, yard work and gardening are all exercise. I used not to think so, but after several hours of pushing and pulling a vacuum or digging and turning soil, you can feel sore the next day.
I’m fortunate to live in a community that is easy to walk places as well as ride my bike. My goal each day is to see how much I can do without getting in the car. I do my best to go a whole week without getting in the car. When I do have to use the car, I make sure I do all the errands and shopping on that same day.
This again is what I mean about that connection between safe and healthy communities. Having the basic stores near you that you can walk or ride your bike to. Having affordable, healthy food in the neighborhood. Access to various activities that are fun and low cost – think about walking on the beach, in a park, along a hiking trail or playing on a playground.
Exercise doesn’t only affect your body, it affects your mood too. It can make you feel good, give you energy, rest better and releases stress.