Jogging for Fun and Profit

Okay, folks. Time to get real here. Back in January at the beginning of the month, I was just getting over another long round of being sick. Since I had nothing better to do, I sat down with my journal and I went over how many days in 2013 I was sick. Not just sniffly sick or tired sick–sick to the point I had to miss work and stay in bed because I felt awful. That kind of sick. And the sad truth was that it had been something like thirty days. Maybe a bit more. I remember coming to the conclusion that I’d been sick one entire month of the year. I don’t know about most people, but that seemed like an awful lot of time to be sick to me. It basically meant that every three months I was sick for a week–if you go by straight-up averages. Every month and a half I was sick for half a week.

Not good.

I’d tried dieting. I’d gotten my weight down to what was supposed to be healthy, and it just hadn’t worked. I felt better about the way I looked, but my health was still just not good enough. So I decided I had to start doing something more than just eating less. I had to actually try to exercise some. Because it was winter and it was snowy outside, I knew jogging was out. I also knew from experience that anything that involved me having to do much prep work at all was something that wasn’t going to fly. Basically, it had to be something that I could do anytime, anywhere, easily.

You’ll remember I chose jogging in place.

The goal was simple: do something that gets my heart rate up for about a half hour, every day. This wasn’t supposed to make me lose weight or make me into a lean, mean, fighting machine. It was just a goal to get healthier. I’d read an article that said NFL players hardly ever get sick during the season, and it attributed that to how much they exercised. This wasn’t rocket science.

It’s now mid-June. Since I started jogging in place, I haven’t gotten seriously sick one time. (I realize I’m cursing myself as I write this, but what can you do? I had to share . . .) There have been a few times when I’ve began to feel sick. Once or twice when I stayed home from work because I wanted to nip something in the bud before it got out of hand. But there hasn’t been one time when I’ve had to just be lying in bed for days at a time. (Well, other than when I threw my back out a bit ago–but again, that’s something else entirely.) If I was going by the numbers of last year, I should have had three bouts of three or four day long illnesses, or one or two week-long affairs.

But not once.

And I haven’t even had to miss jogging in place for a day, either. I take Sundays off, but I’ve kept at the goal consistently. It’s just what I wanted it to be: easy to do, takes no extra time (I can do it while I watch movies or tv with the kids), and ready at a moment’s notice.

Better yet, I’ve felt better. I haven’t just not been sick, I’ve felt healthier. This isn’t as easy to keep track of sometimes, but there are some simple ways to tell. The most obvious is the fact that I’ve suddenly found the desire on some days to do more exercise. The 7 minute routine, for example (which I’ve started doing a few times a week, despite my first experience with it). And Saturday, I suddenly decided to Forrest Gump it down my road just to see how far I could jog without giving up. I haven’t jogged since my mission, when I tried it about five times and never did it again.

But I knew I’d been working my lungs some with all this jogging in place and I wanted to see if it was doing me any good. TRC volunteered to come along and bike while I jogged, so I stretched a bit, put on some sneakers, and set off. Honestly, I thought when I set out that I’d be lucky to get a half mile before I had to rest. I live by a fairly quiet road, and I know from experience how far it is to certain spots along it. I made it a half mile going at a slow but steady pace, and I still wasn’t breathing too badly, so I decided to keep going. And going. A mile and four tenths in, I still wasn’t tired, and I’d reached as far as I thought I wanted to go that day (round trips, you know), so I turned around and continued jogging back, thinking I’d give up and start walking any minute.

I never had to.

I ended up jogging 2.8 miles in 35 minutes. Hardly a record-setting pace, but for my first time jogging in  . . . 15 years? Clearly that lung exercise of jogging in place for the past 5 months has had some effect.

Will I start jogging every day now? Probably not. I’ll definitely continue to jog in place, because I really believe that it’s having an effect. And if I have time to go for a real jog, I think I will. It was pleasant weather, and Maine is a lovely place to be outside. The path I took has some small ups and downs, and seemed like a good match to my (non-existent) skill level. The big thing holding me back from a long term commitment is time. Then again, if I enjoy it and it relieves stress, I will likely be doing it more often. (I certainly have more than enough stress to go around at the moment)

But regardless, I was both surprised at my inexplicable desire to try out a jog and pleased with the results. Here’s to more health in the future, both in a continued decrease in the days I’m sick and a general increase in how I feel overall every day.

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