Monday, October 21, 2013

A simple step, a big result

One of the many things I am envious of in my 2 ½-year-old son is his amazing energy. He spends the whole day running around at full speed and then will do anything to avoid going to bed at night. I compare that to myself, and I get winded just walking up our stairs. By 9:30 PM I am ready to turn out the lights and go to sleep.

My day job is to communicate all of the amazing things Texas Health Resources is doing to the people in our community. Over the past year much of my time has been spent working on the massive “well-being” initiative, which outlines Texas Health Resources’ commitment to keeping our community healthy throughout everyday life, not just when they are in the hospital. We have launched a host of tools to help with this, including a daily email “challenge” to complete to help improve people’s overall well-being. One of the tag lines we have used for this campaign is “Simple Steps. Big Results.”

I felt it would be hypocritical of me to spend so much time telling others why they should care about their well-being and not do something about it myself. Well-being as a concept is so much more than just exercising and eating right. It includes your emotional health and the health of your relationships, finances and a host of other dimensions. For me, however, the dimension that I struggle with the most is what’s known as Health Behaviors.

As you might imagine, since I am part of the team that pushes out all of this well-being content, and we are inundated with research and data about the topic on a daily basis. One piece that caught my eye was about the dangers of being too sedentary. It compared the dangers of sitting with the dangers of smoking as far as its long-term effects on your health. There were also short-term problems like weight gain, lack of energy and poor posture, but those pale in comparison to long-term risks such as high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart disease. Scary stuff.

Luckily for me, several others in my department read the same research, and our boss was kind enough purchase us standing desks. I have now been standing and working for about six weeks, and it’s amazing the difference it has made. When I started standing, I was alternating between sitting and standing during the day, and I’ve found as time has passed that I am spending more and more time standing, to the point now where I am now standing almost 100 percent of the time I am in my office. The benefits I have noticed physically are more energy and less back pain. What I have also found to be true for myself is that standing actually helps focus my concentration better. For example, I have written this entire blog entry without once getting sidetracked to look at something else.

It may sound silly, but looking at my energetic son was what made me think I wish I felt like that and caused me to make a “simple step” that I hope will have the “big result” of keeping me healthier throughout my life. Pretty nice plug, huh? If you want to learn more about well-being, visit In an unrelated story, I have also started eating lots of goldfish crackers, throwing things and crying when I don’t get my own way – but in no way am I giving credit to my son for those traits. 

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