WRIGHT WAY: Don't test my stress
Oct 20, 2010 | 2679 views | 0 0 comments | 36 36 recommendations | email to a friend | print
I had my first stress test recently to make sure my heart was pounding to the right beat and I have to tell you — it takes a lot more heart to stay with a stress test than I thought!

It was easier and much funnier watching people do it on television — laughing as they gasped for air or slid off that speeding treadmill into something hilarious. But I discovered once that treadmill hits its stride on level 3, it’s hard to find your sense of humor.

Whoever said “Time flies when you’re having fun” should add “But it drags like a snail when you’re under the gun!”

“Just 60 more seconds, William, and we’ll have an exact reading! Can you hold out 60 more seconds?”

I couldn’t even say yes. I just nodded. My legs are upset with me for not preparing them for an ordeal that had them moving at a pace equivalent to being chased by a pit bull! Keep looking down and you’re liable to get dizzy and zoom off the treadmill. Uh — not so funny now.

“Just 30 more seconds, William, and we’ll have it! Can you hold on 30 more seconds? You’re doing great!”

I’m not even trying to answer. I thought he said 60 seconds 20 minutes ago! This was the longest minute of my life! Einstein was right. Time does slow down when things speed up!

“Just 15 more seconds, William! Give it all you’ve got. You’re doing excellent!”

Every fiber of my being was forcing those last, clumsy-looking, fast-paced stomps to one of the most exhausting moments of my out of shape existence.

“Stop the machine,” the doctor said. “His heart is fine.”

I was quickly grabbed by a nurse and helped onto a thin bed where she monitored my vital signs. I was so winded I felt like passing out. At that moment, I stopped worrying about my heart and started worrying about my overall health.

I was surprised at my stamina, my conditioning — my fear of slipping and falling in front of a nurse! At first, this stress test was all about getting my annual physical and covering all the bases to be on the safe side. Now I see I couldn’t outrun a 10-year-old on a football field.

According to the National Center for Health Statistics survey, 60 percent of adults in the United States are overweight. Almost four in 10 adults admit they do not fit any leisurely physical activities into their daily routines. Need I say more?

To improve their health and quality of life, more and more people are walking and discovering the joys of a slower pace, a scenic view and a longer life thanks to similar wake-up calls that turned their life around. For me, it’s the desire to grow old with my wife, see my son marry and have grandchildren.

Experts also agree that all you need is 30 minutes of moderate-level physical activity on most days of the week to see health benefits. You can even divide the 30 minutes into shorter periods of at least 10 minutes each and still see good results.

Based on research studies, walking on a regular basis reduces the risk of heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, diabetes, colon and breast cancer. It even helps control joint swelling and pain from arthritis. For people suffering from stress and depression, walking reduces anxiety, helps you sleep better, improves your self-esteem and gives you more energy.

It’s also a great way to socialize with family and friends or make new friends. Experts say if you are not active at all and have health issues, consult your health provider first and start slowly.

You may want to try to walk 5 minutes a day for the first week. Then walk 8 minutes the next week until you feel comfortable. Then slowly lengthen each walk by 3 minutes, or walk faster.

Perhaps you’ve heard how 80 percent of the things we worry about never happen? I hate to think I spend that much time worrying about nothing.

Dr. Stanley Sarnoff, who developed the 24-hour cardiac monitor, said, “The process of living is the process of having stress imposed on you and reacting to it.” Ironically, the famed doctor died in 1990, awaiting a heart transplant.

Another thing recommended is to know your own physical limitations. When I recognize there is only so much I can do in life, I’m less stressed. Why put ourselves under so much tension that we drop dead from stress?

As Jesus said at Matthew 6:27, “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?” — New International Version.

After my stress test I know it’s time to get more exercise. At the same time, I really don’t think I should punish my legs for something my mouth did. I hope this doesn’t turn out like the time I went on a four-week diet and lost 28 days.

Still, I try to keep in mind 1Timothy 4:8, “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.” — New International Version.

I suppose walking with God is the surest way to improved health and the longest life.

*For a copy of The Little White Book of Light featuring more Wright Way columns, visit barnesandnoble.com, booksamillion.com and amazon.com.