This morning I was thinking of one of my favorite writers, Stephen Covey, and some of his words of wisdom from The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. Although it’s been at least ten years since I read it, I still think of many of the concepts daily. Today I thinking of the importance of Habit 7, Sharpen the Saw.

I don’t have the book in front of me this morning so I might not say this exactly like Dr. Covey did, but the idea he expressed was that we all have four areas of our lives (or of our selves) that need attention on a regular basis. These dimensions are physical, mental, spiritual, and social/emotional, and taking time for each of them is a way of investing in ourselves and our effectiveness. I recall reading this idea a decade or so ago and thinking, “Huh, that’s so true.” Still today, if I neglect any of the areas for very long, I begin to feel icky, out-of-sorts, stressed-out, or sick.

Time prohibits a lengthy discussion of each, so I’m concentrating on one at a time, and today it’s the physical dimension. About 25 years ago, I put on some running shoes (they were bright orange) and haven’t stopped pounding the pavement since. I’ve slowed down, yes, but I still make the effort to walk and sometimes jog a minimum of five days a week, come rain or come shine (so to speak). If I don’t, I get that lethargic, lazy, stagnant sort of feeling. When I do, I feel healthy and energized. Walking even improves my mood and my thinking; I feel peppier, think more clearly, and am a much more pleasant person to be around. Just ask DH. Whenever I act a little sulky or down, he will invariably ask, “Have you been walking yet?”

There are dozens of other benefits to walking. For starters, it increases longevity and decreases the changes of cancer, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and other diseases. As a woman, osteoporosis is a little scary, and yet walking, dancing, mowing the lawn, and bowling are among the types of exercise that can lessen the effects. There are also mental and spiritual benefits. Don’t take my word for it; do what I did and Google “benefits of walking.”  In my Human Growth and Development classes, exercise is cited in chapter after chapter (beginning in childhood) as being instrumental in maintaining health and weight control. After a while, students often begin referring to it as the “E word” because it’s mentioned so often.

I think Dr. Covey probably includes proper diet and stress management in the physical arena, but those are topics for another day…or topics for you to pick up on. I don’t want this post to go and on and on. I just want you to lace up your shoes and get going. All you need to walk is a decent pair of shoes and a safe place to walk. No fancy equipment or expensive memberships are required.

You get to commune with Mother Nature, keep those synapses sharp, strengthen your bones, improve your digestion, burn calories, strengthen your heart, and increase longevity. What have you got to lose?? Hey, maybe I’ll see you at the track!