With the new year underway, I’ve done my best to maintain the simple resolutions I’ve come up with for 2014.
Be grateful: As I write this, my brother-in-law is sitting in Boston, watching snow drifting into piles outside his office window at the college where he works. I like my brother-in-law, and there have been times when I envy his place in academia, especially when it requires him to summer in Paris or England. But I don’t envy him now.
Chapel Hill is a great place to live. I need to remember that.
Be open-minded: I must admit I wasn’t expecting Texas A&M to need a dramatic comeback to defeat Duke. I thought Duke out-coached and outplayed A&M for much of their bowl game, but Johnny Manzel proved to be everything pundits had said about him.
I’ve always had a prejudice in believing that “superstars” are over-rated in team sports. After last New Year’s Day, I’ll have a more open mind about that.
Be more tolerant: Jim Shumaker, the former Chapel Hill Weekly editor who was the model for the cartoon character “Shoe,” once noted that I didn’t “suffer fools lightly.” Shumaker was a smart and accurate journalist.
My irritation with distracted waiters, lazy retail clerks and overbearing rent-a-cop security guards has raised my bile more than once and sometimes lowered me into depression about the future of our nation. I really should learn not to care.
There are plenty of hardworking waiters, clerks and guards. I shouldn’t let the minority of idiots ruin life for the rest of us.
Take more walks: The Harvard School of Public Health notes that regular physical activity improves general health in multiple areas – everything from heart disease to cancer to diabetes.
Just about everyone knows aerobic exercise helps with physical health, but it also improves cognitive function among older adults and helps alleviate depression and anxiety, and it leads to better sleep.
And walk faster: A recent study indicates that walking is good, but the benefits rise in relation to the pace. Walkers at a moderately intense speed – only a minute-per-mile faster than some in the slowest group studied – enjoyed significantly reduced risk of dying prematurely.
It would be easy to conclude that those people who walk or exercise more intensely are already in better shape that slower people. Hence, no surprise they’re in better health.
The good news for those of us who are fitness-challenged is that a study of more than 7,000 men who graduated from Harvard before 1950 “suggests those who are out of shape or those with disabilities may get as much benefit from 30 minutes of slower walking or other exercise as younger, more fit people get from the same amount of more-intense activity.”
In other words, if you’re feeling like you’re working hard, it’s probably helping you.
Resolve to be resolute: The single most important resolution is the one to stick with our resolutions. I think about this every time I’m huffing and puffing into the last quarter-mile of my walk.
So far into 2014, so good.