Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Dan Moser's Florida Weekly Column:New Year’s resolution: Get active for fun, exercise, and purpose
Dan's column this week focuses on encouraging people to make physical activity a part of their daily lives. What better time to do this than the start of a new year?
Florida Weekly: Jan. 4, 2012
One obvious but often under-appreciated benefit of dog ownership is the inevitable and frequent walks taken with them. Not everyone will agree that it’s a benefit — especially in the middle of a sweltering summer day — but having a purpose for stepping outdoors and taking a stroll is truly beneficial to one’s physical and mental health, dog and human alike.
The neighborhood my wife, Maria, and I have lived in for 20 years now has quite a few dog owners, many who we’ve become acquainted with as a result of their daily ritual. Most are responsible in that they cleanup after their dogs do their business and follow basic safety rules, such as walking against traffic when not on the sidewalk. Being animal lovers, Maria and I often chat with these folks and their tethered friends whenever they pass by our home or when we happen upon them when we’re out on a run. What a great way to connect with our fellow citizens and visitors to our area.
Combining purpose with physical activity like dog-walking is just one example of an excellent way to start and keep-up healthy lifestyle routines. Why not make your trip to the post office or bank an opportunity to take a walk or bike ride instead of a drive? Or your next grocery or convenience store visit? When at work, walking to lunch, taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking farther away rather than seeking the closest spot to the door are other effective examples of being active with a purpose and with little inconvenience.
An inexpensive and highly helpful piece of equipment that’s proven itself in getting folks to walk significantly more on a daily basis is the pedometer. Whether it’s the most basic step-counting version or one with all the bells and whistles, the feedback provided to the user really makes a difference. In particular, when a person first discovers just how little distance he covers each day as opposed to how much he thought he’d walked, and then finds that he can double, even triple, his distance with just a few changes, the transformation is remarkable. And, in many cases, the addiction — and all its benefits — begins.
As is the case with the pedometer and its effects on walking, the same passion for cycling can result from using a computer/ odometer on your bike, assuming you’ve first learned how to operate your bike safely and effectively. If you feel confident and comfortable on the road and sidepath, the knowledge of your distance traveled — which is replacing miles driven if you’re cycling for purpose — can serve as an excellent motivator. And like the pedometer, there are very basic models and those with multiple functions. In both cases, specific knowledge gained about your undertaking makes all the difference, so why not give them a try to help you fulfill your New Year’s resolution? But don’t use headphones, text, or otherwise shirk your responsibility to be smart and safe when mixing it up in traffic, whether on foot or in the saddle.
BikeWalkLee was among the three finalists for the annual News- Press “Hero” award, citing progress made in 2011 toward improving conditions for pedestrians and cyclists on specific road projects. Since coming into being in 2009, BWL’s effectiveness is due to the fact that it’s a true coalition made up of almost 40 members, comprised of individuals and organizations, and the tireless efforts of two steering committee members in particular: Darla Letourneau and Margaret Banyan. Many others also play crucial roles, but without the research and follow-up these two dedicated volunteers do day-in and day-out BWL wouldn’t be nearly as effective. Thanks to everyone who has a hand in seeing our communities’ roadways become complete streets, thus reversing decades of inequitable treatment for anyone who’s not in a car or truck.
Until next time, I’ll look for you on the roads and trails.
— Dan Moser is a league cycling and CyclingSavvy instructor and programs director for the Florida Bicycle Association who cycles, runs and walks regularly for transportation, recreation and fitness. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 334- 6417.
in the know
>> River, Roots, & Ruts Half & 5K, Sunday,
Jan. 8, Caloosahatchee Regional Park, Alva
>> Naples Daily News Half, Sunday, Jan. 15,
Downtown Naples (www.gcrunner.org)
For more Lee County running events, visit Fort Myers Track Club (www.ftmyerstrackclub.com) and 3-D Racing (www.3dracinginc.com). For Naples/Collier running info, it’s the Gulf Coast Runners (www.gcrunner.org). Charlotte County running information is at www.zoomersrun.com. Walkers can visit www.meetup.com/ Walking-SWFL.
Cycling & Other Events:
>> CyclingSavvy: Truth & Techniques classroom
session, 5:30 - 8:30 p.m., Wednesday,
Jan 11, Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> CyclingSavvy: Train Your Bike parking lot
session, , 8:30 - 11:30 a.m. Saturday,
Jan. 14, Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> CyclingSavvy: Urban Tour session,
12:30 - 4:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 14,
Fort Myers (cyclingsavvy.org)
>> Tour de Cape: Sunday, Jan. 22, Cape
Harbour, Cape Coral (www.capeparks.com)