Sunday, May 27, 2012

Extending the Habit of Walking

Pretty much finished The Power of Habit -- so great! Well worth the read. The habit I'd like to crack is my lack of walking in the evening, except when I'm at my dad's. After conversing with him until his bedtime, I take him up to the nursing station, find his aide, and wait with him until s/he wheels him off to put him in bed.

At that point, I set off walking around Regency, which is a large hollow rectangle. Around and around, four to six times, until they open his door, and I go in and kiss him goodnight. That's a good habit, and not difficult at all. Yet at home, on the off-nights, I don't seem to be able to walk as far or as fast, or sometimes not at all. Obviously I'm missing the cue, which at Regency is Daddy being wheeled off. At home though, why can't "dinner is over - turn on the TV and walk" become a good cue?

Habits are made up of three parts: the cue, the routine, and the reward. One can often change the routine if the cue and reward remain the same, but they must be discovered. They are not always obvious.

The reward at Regency is two-fold, I guess; the walking is pleasant, and there is a nice cut-off when I tell Dad goodnight. Whereas at home, walking on the treadmill is harder on my hips and knees, and there is no cut-off built-in. I've been thinking about this issue for awhile and have no good ideas. My ultimate goal is to walk at least eight hours per day, every day. Using the computer, reading, watching TV primarily while walking. This seems to work in the daytime pretty well, but I can't seem to get the night-time hours going. So far the habit seems to be to walk for a little while, feel tired, and sit most of the night. BLEAH!

Perhaps writing will help some ideas float to the top. Also, I hope the weight-lifting will get me stronger, so my hips and knees (and back) no longer bother me on the treadmill. There is a wonderful payoff to finishing a weight-lifting workout, but I'm having difficulty working up much enthusiasm for "one more thousand" added to my day's total steps. There is nothing in walking like that great tiredness in the muscles!
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