Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Take A Hike!

As New Years' rapidly approaches, I offer some thoughts on those curious resolutions that predominate this time of year. Some of the most common resolutions, per most surveys (including the American Psychological Association), are lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, reduce drinking, reduce stress, improve finances.

Why do we make resolutions? Maybe it is to justify (or as a response to) our indulgent behaviors between Thanksgiving and New Years? Perhaps it is the decreased structure of that same time frame. Biologically, maybe it's a response to a cyclical down time brought on by shorter daylight periods. Psychologically, there is something appealing about new beginnings; the idea of starting over with a clean slate--perhaps it's just optimism for the future. And that coincides with the looking back that occurs at the end of a cycle, so we have the knowledge of our transgressions, and the opportunity to make amends.

The ability to make these resolutions stick is covered commonly in many magazines and newspapers on the grocery store check-out aisle. I would direct you to Dr. Wallin's nice summary of advice in this area.

I offer only one suggestion: walk. Walking is an excellent form of exercise, that is not very hard on the body, and is second only to swimming in low impact bang-for-your-buck exercises. It makes an excellent distraction from cravings for nicotine, alcohol, or food, and can activate neurochemical pathways to directly assist in those areas. Similarly for stress reduction. Exercise has been shown to improve outcomes in double blind, placebo controlled studies of treatment of depression, as both an adjuvant and stand alone treatment. An interesting article on that can be found here.

So regardless of whatever other resolution you may be making, or if you're just looking to burn off some of that Holiday Fruitcake, I suggest slipping on a pair of sneakers, and hitting the treadmill or sidewalk for 20-30 minutes a day.

Happy New Year!


A note to those who queried: I have learned that in order to blog, I must be in the appropriate "headspace." Suffice it to say that life has sent enough medical issues (amongst persons close to me) over the past few months, that there was insufficient room in the headspace for keeping up with a medical blog. I appreciate all of the encouragement and well wishes. I shall attempt to resume normal programming- which means blogging on an irregular basis; i.e. whenever I darn well feel like it!