There’s a Chinese proverb that says a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. For Terry Myerson, the journey was to health, and it did indeed begin with a single step.
When Myerson was an executive at Microsoft, the stress of his job took a toll on his health—he was overweight and seriously out of shape, so much so that he considered quitting his job in order to get healthy.
Instead, he set a small goal—he turned all his meetings into walking meetings. He almost immediately felt a change—not only in his weight, but in his eating habits and his overall health. He eventually did leave his position, and recently completed a half-Ironman, a 70-mile race that includes a 1.2-mile open-water swim, a 56-mile bike ride and a 13.1-mile run.
While not all of us will be ready for a half-Ironman anytime soon, getting fit can be as simple as making one small change and setting manageable goals.
If you’re looking to improve your fitness, make taking and passing the CHIP test your goal. The CHIP test is a physical ability assessment that is a prerequisite for candidacy with many police departments in the state of Connecticut, but it’s also an excellent general test to measure your fitness level based on your age and gender.
Find a test date that works for you and sign up to take the test. To see what you’ll be expected to do, check out the standards for passing. It’s a very manageable test, and anyone should be able to pass with the right preparation.
Once you have your test date set, start working toward your goal. Even small steps can make a big difference over time. Here are some ideas:
- Multitask during TV time. The average American watches more than 4 hours of TV every day. Instead of using the commercials as an opportunity to go get more chips, turn your leisure time into an easy workout by doing some form of exercise during the commercials—jumping jacks, sit-ups, push-ups, or even holding the plank position for 30 seconds at a time.
- Drop and give me 20! At a recent CHIP test we had an individual do 80 push-ups in 1 minute. What can you do in 1 minute? Next time you find yourself with a couple minutes to spare, do some push-ups or sit-ups while you wait.
- Take the stairs. If you live or work in a building with multiple floors, bypass the elevators and choose the stairs. Stair-climbing raises your heart rate, builds muscle, improves cardiovascular health, burns more calories per minute than jogging, and can even improve your mood and reduce stress.
- Walk more. Walking is one of the easiest ways to improve your fitness level. Increase your daily steps by parking at the far end of the store or office parking lot, taking your dog for an extra trip around the block, making a habit of taking a daily after-dinner stroll around the neighborhood, or staying on the move whenever you’re on your phone.
- Play pickup sports. Get some friends together for a game of basketball, tennis, or frisbee, or even just a casual game of catch.