Is stress at work at an all time high? It can be work or personal stress situations. Both lead to absenteeism and loss of work productivity while on the job. Stress can cause us to exercise less frequently, making us prone to weight gain, mental sluggishness, injury and overall declining health. It can affect our relationships at home and at work.

Exercise helps the body, soul and mind. It naturally releases stress. I often hear that people don’t have the time to exercise. The Surgeon General recommends: “Be physically active for at least 30 minutes (adults) or 60 minutes (children) on most days of the week.” Divide the 30 minutes into three 10 minutes internals. When you break it down, it does not seem so overwhelming.

My New Exercise Activity

One of the activities I have embraced this year is the 10,000 Steps Program. Yes, that is 10K a day. You gradually work yourself up over time to that goal. Health organizations such as Kaiser Permanente have a program for subscribers. Your company or organization may sponsor a program as the University of Minnesota did with their employees. Another alternative is for you to step on your own.

The program originates with Dr. Catrine Tudor-Locke, explained in Manpo-Kei: The Art and Science of Step Counting. Besides getting a pair of good walking shoes, I have found a pedometer such as Omron HJ-112 Digital Pocket Pedometer keeps me focused, makes me accountable and tracks your steps for seven days. And every step counts throughout the day!

It really is “ME” time

Some people think of exercise as drudgery. I like to think of it as time for myself. I invite others to walk with me or I venture out on my own with trusty cell phone in hand; catching up family and friends as I walk.

Sometimes, I walk the neighborhood, evaluating the choices people have made on remodeling their homes or how they create a welcoming landscape. Other times, I pinpoint a destination such as the grocery store to pick up items to carry back.

While I walk I often work out ideas for the blog in my head or with my walking partner. It is a great time to reflect on your career, work or personal challenges. We often don’t give ourselves enough thinking time before taking action.

Take a short walk before you get ready for work, on your lunch hour or as a way to unwind after you get home. If you have dog or cat, take them along, they will benefit from it too!

Getting Past Excuses

At first hint of inclement weather – rain is the main culprit right now – I would rationalize why I could not walk. A friend questioned me why I did not stay with the regime. He asked, “Do you own an umbrella?” Of course I did. “Why don’t you use it then”, he said. So that day when it rained, I went on my walk.

Everyone was inside. I will admit there was a sense of calmness, despite the wind and wetness. Putting ourselves in a different set of circumstances with something that is familiar can lead us to new discoveries and solutions. I wonder if I will feel the same way when it is snowing.