This worldwide outbreak of an incurable disease is disorienting. Nobody alive has any living experience with the last one, which was over a hundred years ago. You’d have to be 110 to remember much, and little was known back then, except, in hindsight, that a deliberate lack of good information increased the spread of the deadly plague. So today we are are trying to learn, slowly, how to operate during this hellish time of social isolation against the backdrop of a disease that has killed over 130,000 of us here in the United States of America so far. Here is something I learned yesterday that seems useful.
Get up every so often and move for five or ten minutes, throughout the day. It actually makes you feel better than sitting around for hours at a stretch.
I have a fitbit pedometer clipped to my shirt. I try to get my 10,000 steps a day and come pretty close most days. I walk after the sun goes down, since I’ve had numerous skin cancers scalpeled off my nose. I walk my five miles during the coolest time of the summer day. This little pedometer keeps track of another stat: active minutes and when you are logging them. Here is what I learned.
One of the bits of data you get at the end of the week is how many hours, during the average person’s 9 active hours per day, you have moved at least 250 steps. That’s a walk of three or four minutes. I consistently score 2 of 9 hours daily, correlating with my evening walks. That means for 7 hours of the day, I am sedentary, for no real reason except inertia.
I have been feeling a lack of energy lately, a certain resignation to everything stagnant in my life, powerless against every powerfully destructive force we are up against, a wave of futility kept washing over me. I write, read and watched news clips but I am constantly distracted, seeking distraction during my distractions. I took no joy in drawing, practicing calligraphy, playing the guitar, hadn’t picked up a ukulele in days. Yesterday it hit me: take a little walk.
I went around the block, then down the street, strolled for ten minutes or so. Came back up to the computer and continued to brood. An hour later, back down, around the block, sat on a bench. I’m in an area where there are few people on the street, so I carry a mask that I slip on to avoid infecting anybody I see approaching, though it is unlikely I have this sneaky disease that can be spread by people with no symptoms.
These little bursts of light exercise really seem to help, even just a little. A little bit of help is nothing to sneeze at when you’re feeling helpless.
I’m going to put my shoes on and walk for a few minutes now, if you will please excuse me. I highly recommend it (walking and excusing me, both).