A body at rest stays at rest and a body in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force. – Paraphrase of Newton’s First Law of Motion.
I learned the sentence above in my High School Physics class, and then spent 4 years in college learning it over and over again as a Physics major. This law describes how things move around in the world. It tells you that something sitting still will continue to do so, unless some force acts on it. Things don’t just start moving on their own. Similarly, once things get moving, it takes an outside force to slow it down and stop it. I am a living witness to the idea that Newton’s first law applies to my physical conditioning as well.
For the last several years, I have been a body at rest. There are any number of reasons that contributed to this happening to me. I stopped playing raquetball because of a knee injury. I stopped playing softball when my team folded. And on and on. As the years wore on I became more and more sedentary. It was a common argument in my house that I would ask someone who was already up to bring me something, and my wife would tell me to get off my ass and do it myself.
The more I sat, the more I wanted to sit. It became so bad that at work I was taking the elevator to get to my second floor office. I resisted walking even to the cafeteria because the walking would wind me or make me sore. At home I would stay in the family room well past the time I needed to go to the bathroom because I didn’t want to use the stairs. Worse, sometimes I would opt to just stay upstairs in my office because I didn’t want the trips up and down.
I cannot say with exact certainty what the unbalanced force was that got me moving. I wrote some thoughts in an initial post about “why now” , but even those don’t fully explain why I got moving. What I do know is that the unbalanced force got me moving again.
At first it was very difficult to increase my walking and stair climbing. I felt some joint pain, and got winded easily. My trips up the stairs were at a plodding maddeningly slow pace for anyone behind me. My laps at work were slow, and I couldn’t wait to get to the end of them. At home was no different. It took self-discipline to make myself get up and move.
I am in my 3rd week of making an intentional effort to exercise more. I started with more walking at work, and have added trips to the gym. I am already seeing improvement. My trips up the stairs at work go faster, I don’t get as winded walking and can carry on a conversation. The first trip to the gym was difficult, and I needed ice on my knee when I got home, but each subsequent trip has been a little easier. My last visit was on Saturday morning, and I had to make myself stop the treadmill work because I knew my wife would be waiting to go to breakfast.
I have not suddenly transformed into being Charles Atlas or Jack Lalanne (they were famous strong man a long time ago – I like to show my age sometimes), but I am getting better with every walk, with every trip to the gym. I am not a body in motion, and I plan to stay in motion. My commitment is to make sure that no unbalanced forces slow my pace on my path toward healthier living. Who knew that my High School Physics class would come in so handy?