It's almost February, and it's a leap year, which means we have an opportunity to devote 24 extra hours this year in service to something greater than ourselves.
Think about this: If a sedentary person simply committed to moving for 24 hours this year, even if they spread it out over about a half hour a week, that's 24 hours of benefit toward their health. I hope that in those 24 hours they would realize they feel better as a result, and continue to add activity to their routine.
For those sedentary people, they are not only helping themselves, but they are also helping others. Just think about the public health impact it could make if large numbers of sedentary people got up and started moving. The physical health benefits are only the tip of the iceberg.
The social implications of sedentary people increasing their physical activity include improved mental health, reduced health care costs, improved productivity, and would benefit everyone in gazillions of other ways that would make this blogpost way too long if I tried to write about it here. My point is, when you take care of yourself, it helps everyone else, too.
If you're a beginning runner, think about how you could use the extra 24 hours for your benefit in fitness. You could add a half hour a week of running spread out over a year, or you could spend that half hour a week doing weight training or cross training. Or try a new activity for fitness or recreation this year, give yourself 24 hours to try it. Take a class, sign up for a trip, or organize an outing with some friends.
Here's my 24 hour challenge to you.
No matter what you do, look at the 24 hours as an opportunity to give back to others. Here are three things you can do:
1. Volunteer for 24 hours of your time this year, whether it's in your community, or at races you usually run, it gives something back to the sport that you value so much.
2. Donate 24 hours of your pay this year to a charity. For most people that's 3 days of pay. It sounds like a lot, but if you were to spread it out, it might not seem like it impacts you.
3. Add 24 hours of fun and fitness this year, as I described above. You're taking control of your physical and mental well-being when you increase your activity level or diversify your old routine.
This year I plan to do all three.
This year, I want to volunteer at my favorite race, Badwater, on the medical team again, which is actually more like a 50+ hour commitment, but I'll call it 24 hours. I am also running a 24 hour race on the track, in which I'd like to cover more than 100 miles. And I am donating 24 hours of my pay this year to the PVHS Foundation, between a payroll deduction program and other small donations spread throughout the year. By the end of the year, I'll probably have given more than another 24 hours in volunteer service to my community, in wellness and cancer-related programs.
A leap year is an opportunity. Spread the word.