After a long cold winter, the thought of spring is a powerful motivator to get each one of us up and moving. In spring, everything seems to have a fresh new look as gray fields come alive with soft tones of green. We are energized by the thought of longer days filled with warm sunshine and gardens full of Mother Nature’s bounties. We feel the warmth of the sun on our skin and sense spring’s rejuvenating powers.
Winter may have prevented us from doing many of the activities that aid us in maintaining our wellness. We may have spent much more time indoors, too often in front of the television set. Our exercise program may have fallen by the wayside. Many of us feel like we have hibernated like bears; our bodies are now screaming to reinitiate the activities that help us manage our pain.
The transition to warm weather can also present us with a whole new array of issues. We see all that we want to do, all that we must do, so our commitment to approaching any task with realistic expectations goes out the window. Our key word, PACE, falls on deaf ears as we tackle our numerous jobs. Instead of doing what we know we should do─prioritize and work within our limitations─we forge ahead with a new sense of urgency to make the most of our good days.
We all know what happens when we ignore our need to PACE. While our minds may forget this important concept, our bodies quickly remind us as we push ourselves past our limits. New symptoms appear. Some of us listen to our bodies and slow down. Others, like me, tell ourselves that as soon as we get one more thing done, we will stop. Of course, that one more thing turns into ten more things. If only we would remember that nothing is accomplished overnight. All we can see is the result we envisioned.
Pacing is vital. It is the key to our successfully completing tasks. Yet, the idea of pacing seems to allude so many of us. Perhaps the following will help you as you and your family begins to shape up for spring. Let us take a closer look at the word PACE.
Prioritize: Before you begin to tackle the long list of things you want to accomplish this spring, take a moment to ask yourself which one is the most important for you to complete first. Take a few minutes to reacquaint yourself with identifying and listing your priorities. If you have a sense of the things you want to complete and know which ones are the most important, it will provide you with that necessary feeling of control.
Action: Once you have determined the order in which you will begin your “shaping up for spring” you need to take action. Your actions have a direct impact on how you manage your health from day to day. You must make sure that your actions are within your limits. Consult your doctor if you have any questions. And, before engaging in any physical activity, it is a good idea to do a few warm-up stretches to guard against injury.
Comfort: Comfort for both your body and your mind should be considered. Before beginning a task ask yourself if it is within your limits to complete. Is it something that you can do by yourself or will you need help? Can you complete the task in the time you have allotted or will it take longer? If it does take longer than anticipated, have you given yourself time to rest throughout the task? Your physical comfort should be considered when preparing your list of priorities.
Enjoy: Ask yourself if the task you have decided on is one you enjoy. In other words, is your heart set on accomplishing the task? Do you believe it is important for you to do? Will it make a difference in what you perceive as the end result? Or, are you doing it because you think others expect you to do it? I realize that some work is no fun, but simply needs to be done and we do it because it part of our job. There are, however, tasks we take upon ourselves that are not within our ability, are really not that important, or will not enhance our lives. These we should place at the end of our list or eliminate them altogether.
Spring is a wonderful time of the year when we seem to be renewed by the freshness of nature coming back to life. It is a time to enjoy and at the same time complete necessary tasks. It is important that you PACE yourself throughout the spring so that when summer rolls around you can enjoy those crazy days, as well.
The following two lists are reprinted with permission from On Your Own Terms, The Senior’s Guide to an Independent Life, Linda D. Cirino, Hearst Books, New York, NY 1995. The lists provide information that is useful as you begin your shaping up for spring.
The One-Minute Range-of-Motion Tests
Range-of-motion refers to the degree of movement a joint can perform. The One-Minute Range of Motion Tests measure different movements and can help you find muscle groups that will benefit from more flexibility through exercise.
- Sit with your knees together. Lean forward and touch your toes.
- Bend your elbows and place your hands in front of your mouth.
- Place your hands behind your neck with your elbows extended to the side.
- Reach both hands behind to the middle of your back.
- Place your palms on your upper buttocks.
- Place your hands on top of your head, making a diamond-shaped space with your elbows outstretched to the side.
Attributes of Walking
- It needs no special skills.
- It requires no special equipment other than comfortable shoes.
- It can be done indoors or outdoors.
- It can vary in location, speed, and duration.
- It builds muscles.
- It burns calories.
- It improves balance.
- It activates the leg muscles, joints, and cardiovascular system and increases the metabolism.
- It’s a weight-bearing activity and helps increase bone mass.
- It’s the best exercise for your feet.