Thursday, January 3, 2019

New year, new you?

BikeWalkLee Column
The News-Press, January 3, 2019
by Ken Gooderham

Will a happy new year mean a happier (or at least healthier) new you?

Tis the season for resolutions, and for myriad stories extolling the excellence of exercise. They’re right, of course – regular exercise has a host of health-improving benefits, leading to both a better quality and quantity of life.

Reaching the recommended level of exertion is not out of reach; the current levels are 150 minutes of Moderate aerobic activity (or 75 minutes of vigorous exertion) per week, plus strength training for all major muscle groups twice a week – or, for shorthand, 30 moderate minutes a day to maintain, and it doesn’t need to be continuous.

That’s possible in most daily lives – particular if you, first, find something you enjoy doing as exercise; and, second, find something that works into your usual daily routine.

Of course, you’d expect a group named BikeWalkLee to suggest biking or walking (running’s good, too, if you want to be more vigorous in your pursuit of fitness). Both can be done in a variety of place and times of day, both can easily be made part of one’s daily routine, and both are accessible to a variety of abilities and skill sets.

You can bike or walk for fun, for fitness, or for transportation… as a way to get things done or get some time alone. The cost of admission is another plus: Bicycles and good walking shoes can fit most budgets, and the facilities (sidewalks and bike paths or lanes, assuming there are some near you) are free… or at least you already paid for them.

Need to get more steps in? Walk to nearby errands rather than taking the car, or (if a car is unavoidable) park further away from your destination and hoof it the rest of the way. This time of year, you also have the advantage of a moderate climate to make the walk more welcoming.

Rather ride? Again, look at nearby errand that can be done by bike (which will also help control your purchases if you have to ride them back home). Have a close commute? Bike it a day or two a week… or even every day while the weather cooperates.

Need incentives? Set reasonable goals and be reasonable in reaching them. Need more than that? Find someone to help motivate you, if that’s your thing. Or use technology – in the form of any number of gadgets that will track your daily efforts by step, mile or other forms of measurement.

Of course, make sure you’re able to be more able by checking with a medical professional to be sure you’re healthy enough to get healthier. They can also recommend ways to work around existing conditions or how to make adjustments to make exercise more beneficial.

Making exercise routine, and making it a priority, will make it more likely you’ll keep at it and hit your goals (and more). If biking or walking simply becomes “what you do every day,” you’ll end up doing it – and that’s the point.

Because the bigger issue is not extolling exercise or harping on healthiness. It’s staying “well” enough to preserve your wellness – the “move it or lose it” approach. The longer you can maintain some basic level of fitness – a state of health and well-being -- the longer you’ll likely be able to maintain a good quality of life, to be able to do the things you enjoy and keep up with the people you want to have in your life.

Start to lose the ability to perform the most basic of physical activities and you start losing that quality of life – and once it’s gone, getting it back takes a lot of work (if it can be done at all).

Newton’s first law of motion says it best: "A body at rest will remain at rest, and a body in motion will remain in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force."

So make this new year the time you put (or keep) your body in motion, by making some kind of exercise regular, routine and rewarding.

Ready to ride or run?

Run?  After a holiday break, races start ramping up again… with a Snowman’s Shuffle 5K run/walk at Lakes Park Saturday and the renamed Hooter’s River, Roots and Ruts trail run (10-mile or 5K) at the Caloosahatchee Regional Park in Alva on Sunday. Details at, respectively.

Ride? Tomorrow night is the monthly Critical Mass night ride through downtown Fort Myers, with the Sanibel night ride set for Jan. 12. Front and rear bike lights required, so grab your helmet, bring all your friends. The regular Sunday morning rides continue as well; details on all at . Looking for more of a challenge? Look to the Hamster Wheel 200 in Punta Gorda, a 12.5-mile loop you can ride to your heart’s content (or at least your leg’s ability). Details at

Both? Upcoming events include:
  • Sunday, Jan. 6: HITS Triathlon Series, with sprint, Olympic and half-Ironman distances. Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota (
  • Sunday, Feb.11: Tri Your Heart Out sprint, Sarasota (
  • Willing to drive? Check or for tris around the state.


Have a favorite route you like to bike, or a unique walk you’d like to share with others? Tell us about it at, and maybe we can feature it in an upcoming column.

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Ken Gooderham writes this on behalf of BikeWalkLee, a community coalition raising public awareness and advocating for complete streets in Lee County — streets that are designed, built, operated and maintained for safe and convenient travel for all users: pedestrians, bicyclists, motorists, and transit riders of all ages and abilities. Information, statistics and background online at 


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