Healthy Living in the North

Your health is worth taking the time to move!

don't give up

Don’t ever give up… don’t ever stop moving, no matter what it is you do.

I love quotes. I love collecting them and using the words to remind me to think differently. When I was writing the Northern Health position paper on sedentary behaviour and physical inactivity, I came across one quote that has become a very important reminder as I continue to wait for surgery to fix a damaged knee.

Great thoughts can still be important even when taken out of time and place. One hundred and forty years ago, Edward Stanley, the 15th Earl of Derby was giving a speech to students preparing to graduate. The words he spoke then, still resonate strongly now: “Those who think they have not time for bodily exercise will sooner or later have to find time for illness.”  

This wasn’t a new idea. Several thousand years earlier, Plato said, “Lack of activity destroys the good condition of every human being, while movement and methodical physical exercise save it and preserve it.”

Running and long walks used to be my passion, but they were not the best choice to keep my knee protected from injury. Being faced with physical restrictions that ended my favourite ways to exercise might have meant I would just give up and wait for the problem to be fixed.

There are many people just like me who are waiting for a problem to be fixed or have given up and begun to decline in fitness. The easy answer would be for me to go into a wheelchair or scooter, or even a seat elevator to get up and down my stairs at home. My doctor had different ideas.

I was struggling with depression and frustrated because I couldn’t go for the mind-clearing walks I loved. He reminded me that my knee will be fixed at some point and that right now my mental well-being was more important than my knee. I needed to find ways to be active that didn’t involve walking or running, but I needed to keep moving.

Now I use a stationary bike or I go to the pool and run in the deep water. While these aren’t my favourites, they are the exercises that keep me moving and keep me in a better place, both mentally and physically. Exercise keeps my joints and muscles fluid and strong, so even though my knee doesn’t want to work right like the rest of my body, it is hanging in there waiting to get treatment so it can catch up and be strong again.

Many days, as I watch co-workers and family go for walks, I realize it would be easy to feel sorry for myself and give up.  But giving up isn’t an option, I want to live a long and healthy and active life enjoying spending my children, their spouses and my wonderful grandchildren. Many people say that exercise is the best medicine… and I think they are right. If I don’t exercise, I don’t feel good and I don’t move well. If I exercise, I don’t have as much pain and I also enjoy the benefits of an improved mood as a side-effect of exercise.

Don’t ever give up… don’t ever stop moving. Research has shown that you can build muscle strength no matter what your age. Of course, at 90 you won’t build muscles like a 20-year old, but you can still build enough muscle to be as independent as possible. Keep moving, because as soon as you stop, there will be lots and lots of time for you to experience the diseases that come from moving less and sitting more.

Check out Dr. Mike Evan’s work 23 ½ hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health? I hope you too will be inspired to find ways to keep moving.

[Editor’s note:  This is a great example of what the key message “Make time for physical activity, or TAKE time to be sickmeans to Christine. Tell us what it means to you! Visit our Picture YOU Healthy contest page for more details on your chance to win!]

Christine Glennie-Visser

About Christine Glennie-Visser

Christine is the regional coordinator for the HEAL (Healthy Eating, Active Living) Network in northern B.C. Christine loves to share good healthy local food with family, friends and co-workers and is passionate about making the healthy choice the easier choice for everyone. Although she is currently limited in her physical activity choices for medical reasons, she has become creative at fitting in activity and spends many happy hours deep water running and using gentle resistance training and stretching to maintain muscle strength. Christine can often be found in her kitchen, developing or testing recipes, and conspiring with her six grandchildren to encourage their parents to eat more fruits and vegetables! (Christine no longer works with Northern Health, we wish her all the best.)