The Group of One: A Story of Self-Motivation and Exercise

By Dr. Laura Cloukey, Medical Director, The Villages Health Pinellas Care Center

It is well known that many Villagers, estimated around 157,000 of them (Rocco, 2015), arrive in Florida to embrace a healthy lifestyle. They come from all walks of life with many experiences in health and in sickness. Exercise seems to be right at the top of their lists.

Suzanne S. from Rhode Island arrived with dreams of finding her life balance between rest and play. She was invigorated by the move to Florida, looking forward to meeting new people and seeing novel places. She knew that exercise would also play a big part in her plans.

Talking the Talk, Walking the Walk

Suzanne started to meet her new neighbors and share stories of her past and her hopes for her future. She would venture out in the mornings to walk. That was her health plan to get in shape. Walking came naturally, it was free and with the beautiful Florida weather, it was conducive to being able to get outdoors. Florida has an average of 241 days of sunshine a year, perfect weather to live an active lifestyle. (Current Results, 2017).

Suzanne started to walk around her neighborhood and before she knew it, a neighbor would walk along with her. Over time, more and more neighbors joined in. Soon she had a walking club with multiple neighbors who enjoyed the sunshine, the company, and the health benefits of walking for exercise. The months went by and members of this informal club came and went. Some laid up due to knee or hip issues, others rejoining after a hiatus due to cardiac or pulmonary problems, but people remained interested. Suzanne was pleased: she had friends, was moving her body and blood, and realizing her potential for health. A visit with her doctor (which is me) confirmed that her blood pressure had decompressed, her pulse lowered, and her condition improved. Her dream was coming true.

When Walking Stops, So Do Its Benefits

Suzanne noticed that her walking group size fluctuated. At one point, she was walking alone once again. In The Villages®, there are so many activities it is difficult to find balance sometimes. Exercise may be a lower priority when other fun activities are fast growing. She felt less motivated to go on her walks and her enthusiasm for walking wasn’t the same. With the social aspect of walking lost, she was not able to see the value.

Her body decided to remind her of the value. Suzanne came to see me at her annual exam. When I asked her about her exercise activity she reported that she came away from exercise and was no longer doing her walking. She felt less inspired and had less energy. We noted her blood pressure had risen and she was thinking of napping as the afternoons seemed long and she was tired more often. We talked about how good she felt when she was walking. She missed the health benefits, such as the endurance, her walking provided her. She could sleep better when she was walking for exercise. She also remembered that her mood seemed better as well.

Putting Together a Plan

Suzanne and I came up with a plan. She knew that the health benefits for the heart can be just 30 minutes of walking 5 days per week, totaling 150 minutes per week. We decided that the plan would be really simple, she would walk out her front door, walk for 15 minutes, turn around and walk home. That was an easy 30-minute walk. At first this seemed daunting to her since she had not walked for exercise for so long but she was willing to give it a try.

By the next time I saw Suzanne she reported to me that she was walking again, alone, but she was doing it. She was a group of one. She found herself feeling better, with more energy and no longer feeling that she needed a nap. As more time went by people started to join her again for her walk, the size of the group ever fluctuating.

Investing in Yourself

Suzanne, like so many other people, has energy that ebbs and flows; sometimes you feel energized and focused and other times you feel drained and strained. This is a normal variation in a human. Investing in yourself is worthwhile. You have come this far and have more to go. Don’t wait for others to motivate you. Motivate from within. Find it in yourself. Have a good talk with yourself, you will listen I am sure. See you out there!

References
Current Results. (2017). Days of Sunshine Per Year in Florida. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
Rocco, M. (2015, March 26). Florida’s The Villages is the Fastest-Growing City in America.

Last updated: 09.20.2017
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Written byDr. Laura Cloukey

Laura Cloukey, DO is Medical Director of The Villages Health® Pinellas Care Center in The Villages®, Florida. Hailing from her hometown of Waltham, Massachusetts, Dr. Cloukey attended the University of Massachusetts for her undergraduate studies and received her medical degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She did her internship and residency at Carney Hospital and Boston University. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Prior to coming to Florida, Dr. Cloukey was at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital system in Boston, which is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She relocated to The Villages to join The Villages Health to help build a novel and superior health care system that promises patient-centered care, while delivering informed, relevant care plans and better outcomes.

Coach Image

Written by Dr. Laura Cloukey

Laura Cloukey, DO is Medical Director of The Villages Health® Pinellas Care Center in The Villages®, Florida. Hailing from her hometown of Waltham, Massachusetts, Dr. Cloukey attended the University of Massachusetts for her undergraduate studies and received her medical degree from the University of New England College of Osteopathic Medicine. She did her internship and residency at Carney Hospital and Boston University. She is certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine and has been in practice for more than 20 years. Prior to coming to Florida, Dr. Cloukey was at the Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital system in Boston, which is an affiliate of Harvard Medical School. She relocated to The Villages to join The Villages Health to help build a novel and superior health care system that promises patient-centered care, while delivering informed, relevant care plans and better outcomes.

The Villages, The Villages Health, America’s Healthiest Hometown, and their associated logos are trademarks of Holding Company of The Villages, Inc., and are used with permission.

Disclaimer: This content is for informational purposes only and it is not meant to be relied on as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Consult your physician before starting any exercise or dietary program or taking any other action respecting your health. In case of a medical emergency, call 911.

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