Incidental Exercise

Never underestimate the value of incidental exercise. For many years 10,000 steps a day has been considered a desirable minimal level of daily activity for health. I’ve shared the video below in other articles, about the dramatic drop in activity from our active past to our now relatively passive present. Here it is again as a reminder!

I love that video because it illustrates so well the change in how we live. Our bodies were designed for the active past lifestyle but too many of us live the passive present depicted.

Back in 2014 I participated in the Global Challenge. Looking at the website for the 2018 event, I see it has changed since 2014, but the objectives remain the same. This is an annual event to encourage office workers particularly to get out and about and moving. I am proud to say I won all the trophies available, despite some challenges such as ending up on crutches due to a very, very grumpy knee.

2014 was the year I found out I was sick. Looking back, what I find interesting was my actual steps per day in early 2014, compared to that recommended steps a day number of 10,000. We received our pedometers well before the event started and several of us started wearing them to see how much of an improvement was needed. I found I was walking approximately 2,500 steps a day. I was shocked, as I had a history of being active, but, as they say, “life happened” and I had found myself in a very inactive phase.

To paint the picture of my life at the time, I was a senior manager with a company car. In the morning, I would walk out my back door, jump in my car, drive to work, park in the basement, take the elevator up to my floor, sit in my office or meeting rooms all day, at the end of the day repeat the journey in reverse. At home I was helping children with homework, cooking dinner – there was little time for me to take care of myself. I should have made the time!

Now I deliberately use every opportunity to clock up a few extra steps: my kyBoot shoes definitely help. Without the heels I can decide, weather permitting, to walk an extra 1,000 steps down the road from my office before catching the tram.

The photo at the top of this page was taken on just such a day recently. It was a beautifully sunny end of the day, not too hot, the trees provided such a pretty filtered sunlight effect and the evening birdsong was a lovely musical accompaniment: I really enjoyed just de-stressing from the office by stretching my legs.

I am extremely lucky in that the tram line goes directly from my work location to my home location with many stops along the way. I can easily walk part way, tram part way. Not everyone has such a convenient transport situation.

If you drive to work, is it possible to park a little further away from work? That isn’t possible for me, on the days I do drive to work my only parking option is the staff car park. This is one of the reasons I prefer to take the tram as it gives me more options for incidental exercise.

Cycling to work is great exercise already: my knees don’t like cycling, so it is not an option for me. Luckily my body doesn’t object to walking in any way, which is one of the reasons incidental exercise is so important to my welfare and the management of my rheumatoid arthritis and damage in my lumbar spine.

How many of us travel to the gym or the pool, to diligently undertake exercise, in our car? My swimming pool is only 1.5 kms from my home. I have reached the point now where walking 1.5 kms is easy. One issue I have to be careful of is exposure to the sun, so I can only do that walk weather permitting. I also need to be careful not to overdo it. I am well aware that a three kilometre walk and a swim may send me into the #spoonie Boom/Bust cycle if I am not careful. Pacing is paramount. My gym is located at work: I do the same incidental steps as on a normal work day.

I walk to my general practitioner’s clinic rather than drive.

As I am a person with chronic health conditions, I don’t get to 10,000 steps on a daily basis due to the energy/lethargy issues that go with my conditions. Yet. I am slowly building up and each month I am more active that the previous month.

Look at your daily routine and determine what adjustments you might be able to make to increase your level of daily activity. I am a firm believer that frequent movement is better for our bodies and our health than being stationary all of most days then working out like mad in the gym for 45 minutes maybe three days a week. I was very happy to have my belief confirmed when I did the Pain Management Program! The reality was brough home to me more recently when I spent a day in the Emergency Department (why is a story for another day) – my body almost turned to concrete through not moving. I was very stiff after lying on a hospital bed all day.

Yes, I certainly do work out in the gym because resistance training is very important, especially as we mature, but moving as much as possible is perhaps even more important, yet so difficult for many of us to achieve.

I know from my own experience with my conditions, the days I am not working in the office and move a lot more I get to the end of the day with no stiffness or little niggles anywhere. Days when I am more stationary I will end the day in discomfort. Not pain, but discomfort. Move more. Movement is medicine has become my mantra.

This is an edited version of an article I first wrote for Kybun.

Are Your Shoes Contributing to Your Pain?

I’m not just talking about six inch stilettos. Our shoes affect how we walk, how we stand and consequently our posture. If we are already facing joint issues, postural imbalances aren’t going to help. In simple terms, we can end up favouring (guarding or protecting) some aspect of our body which can place more strain on another part. It can become a case of the chicken or the egg, trying to work out where it all started.

Part of the solution may be changing your footwear. My rheumatologist gave me a stern lecture about heels. OK, his tone wasn’t stern, but I could tell his intent was! We know high heels aren’t good for us, but we keep wearing them anyway – until we get to the point that it is JUST TOO PAINFUL to persevere. We have to find more suitable footwear.

My Shoe Adjustments

About six months ago I bit the bullet and went on a “low heels” shopping spree for the office and social wear. In my down time I was living in runners, but that’s not such a good look in the office. Socially? I was warned, in no uncertain terms, by a girlfriend NOT to wear runners on a night out. Even with these lowest of low heels I was still experiencing pain in my right buttock and lumbar spine at various times, usually towards the end of the day.

I’ve found a great help for me – and for a neighbour, a friend and the friend’s husband. This may not work for you, but I’m sharing in the hope others may also benefit.

In sheer desperation one day I dragged my old MBT shoes out of the closet and wore them for two days. NO PAIN! However, they were so old (I’d forgotten I had them) that wearing them triggered end of life (theirs, not mine). Not surprising really – nothing lasts forever. I tried to buy replacements. Very, very hard to get in Australia these days.

Kyboot by Kybun

Doing my “can I buy them somewhere else” research I stumbled across KyBoot by Kybun. I discovered the brains behind the original MBTs, Karl Müller, had moved on to developing his next generation shoes. There are only four stockists in Australia: one in Melbourne, two in New South Wales (Sydney and Mona Vale) and one in Brisbane. Kyboot don’t have a very high profile in Australia – yet.

What makes them different? This is an American video, but illustrates the technology.

I visited the Melbourne stockist in early July with NO intention of buying, just seeing what they had and trying them on. Yes, I walked out with my first pair. As soon as you walk around in them you can feel yourself standing differently. A co-worker who sees me at work every day told me I was walking as if I was twenty years younger – and without dobbing that person in, they are qualified to make that assessment.

I walk around a lot in my other job so my first priority was something I could wear to work that looked professional (i.e. did not look like runners). As you can see from the video below, they are fine for an office environment.

My Contacts’ Reactions

I posted about them on my personal Facebook page and spoke to a neighbour in my apartment building. It isn’t just me. My neighbour bought two pair: one for work and one for social. Her comment to me, “I don’t even take them off when I get home, they are too comfortable”.

The Facebook contact’s experience is best shown by her posts to me (I have redacted her name to protect her privacy).

After a while this was her follow-up note to me.

She sent me a picture of her choice.

Kyboot

A Second Pair

So now I had solved my office problem, but I wanted some that I could wear working in Limberation. Something that would go with my gym gear. On the Kybun website I had spotted the very colourful style featured at the top of this article. Sadly, this style is not stocked in Australia. Yet, anyway! The Melbourne stockists, Peter Sheppard, very kindly ordered them in for me specially. I was very excited when they arrived. I was able to determine the size required by trying on another similar shape style prior to ordering.

Pros and Cons

These are not cheap. Up to $500 a pair depending on the style. As a friend said to me, “You can’t put a price on pain reduction”. Yes, my budget has been very tight this month, but I’m set for a while now.

The heel can also look a little odd when walking. Ignore the cat hair, she was all over me when I got home! In this photo I am landing on my heel to show the “squishiness”. The runners I have bought are not as squishy.

Kyboot

You really must try them on and be correctly fitted. My two pairs are two different sizes – the runners I wear with socks are slightly bigger than the ones I wear with stockings or bare feet. Take a typical pair of your socks with you to ensure the correct fit. I was really interested in getting a pair of sandals for summer, but I have very flat feet and in an open shoe my toes don’t stay where they should, so I think I’ll have to stick to closed styles.

The benefits, if these shoes suit you, are worth every cent. Everything we do – controlling our weight, increasing our movement & exercise (re-conditioning our bodies), reducing stress in our lives – all contribute to us managing our conditions and improving our quality of life. If a shoe helps us experience less pain or be able to move for longer before we experience the change (onset of pain), then we are going to be better off. Not only will we experience less pain, but we will re-condition faster than we might otherwise have done which in turn will help us manage our pain.

Summary

Before you ask, no, I don’t get any payments or discounts for writing about the KyBoot. I’m sharing because I’ve been so amazed and so have two contacts of mine. I have worn mine every single day since I got them (nearly two months ago). One of the Peter Sheppard staff told me that is what she had done the day I bought my first pair and frankly I didn’t believe her. Now I do.

The styles available in Australia are not the full range, however styles will change over time and if you are travelling overseas you may find different styles available in different overseas outlets. Just make sure you are getting the genuine article by checking the Kybun stockists page.

Research. Read the Kybun site to familiarise yourself with the product. The English version of the site probably doesn’t read quite the same as the Swiss version, but the basics are covered. There is even a section on “Initial Reactions” as depending on how you are standing/walking now you body may need to adjust. I didn’t have that experience, nor did the people quoted above, but be aware it is a possibility.

These may not be suitable for you. Even if these aren’t, it won’t hurt to evaluate your shoe wardrobe. Ask yourself whether you suffer less pain, or last longer before pain starts, in one shoe compared to another. Get rid of the ones you know are not doing you any favours. I hated giving up my heels – but now I just don’t care! I’m happily walking around everywhere! Yes, I kept my low heeled fashion shoes – there will be social occasions when I want to wear a dress shoe.

If you were a MBT wearer, these are much easier to walk in. There is a MBT v KyBoot comparison page on the KyBun site.

If you already have some Kyboot shoes, please share your experience in the comments.

Update November 19, 2017

Above I stated I received nothing from Kybun for writing this article. That is correct. I am disclosing that as a result of this article I have since been engaged to write for Kybun for a period of twelve months.