Posted in Uncategorized

13 Ways to Incorporate More Movement into Your Daily Routine

Norma Walton recommends a walk at lunch with co workers

The fact that exercising is a must to keep you healthy is no secret. We all know how important physical activity is, yet many of us find it challenging to add more movement to our days. If you want to reduce your risk for illnesses such as cancer, obesity, chronic pain and cardiovascular disease, your best bet is to keep your weight down, enjoy a healthy diet, and keep moving. Here are 13 ways you can add more movement into your daily routine.

1. Consider Using a Standing Desk

My friend Wayne uses a standup desk and his health has improved immeasurably as a result.  His back feels better, his weight is down, and he has more energy.  You’ve probably heard that sitting is the new smoking. However, if your work involves mostly desk work, it can be difficult to avoid sitting. The introduction of “standing desks” has completely changed the way we look at the typical workstation. These height-adjustable desks allow you to mix up your day by choosing to stand part of the time. Even doing so in 15-minute intervals throughout the day can make a big difference to your overall health. Your goal should be to stand for half your workday whenever possible.

Norma Walton recommends a standing desk

2. Change Positions Often

Moving while working is a good break.  Any movement helps.  If a standing desk isn’t an option, make constant changes in your position throughout the day. Remember, you don’t have to participate in traditional exercise to increase movement. Do stretches, get up and walk around your office, do a few squats now and then, or even change the position of your legs frequently – all of these movements add up and can make a difference in your daily stationary routine.

3. Stimulate Your Nerves

Any sort of movement that stimulates your muscles and your joints is good for you.  Whether you sit or stand at work, you can stimulate your nerves to help reduce chronic pain and keep your blood circulating. Things like standing on a shiatsu mat or running your feet over a tennis ball or foot massager can stimulate your body and nerves throughout the day. That also eases constant pressure that can lead to aches and pains.

4. Take the Stairs

I always try to take the stairs.  This is an easy solution to your movement challenges as you can do it whenever the opportunity arises. Instead of always opting for the escalator or elevator, you can take the stairs. If you’re too many floors up, just do a few flights, or even one to help keep you active.  My dad heads up the stairs when he is in Florida…all five flights of them…and it keeps him both healthy and energetic. Even if you work from home, if you have a bathroom on another level, you can use it instead of the one on the same floor of your home office, you can get in some extra steps.

Norma Walton recommends taking the stairs.

5. Use a Timer

Timers are always going off in my household to remind various members of the family that they want to do something or other.  If the half-day of standing is too difficult, use a timer on your phone to remind you to stand up and move every 30 to 60 minutes. This allows you to take a physical break so you can squat, stand, stretch, and walk up and down a flight of stairs to keep moving.  Ideally spent two minutes of activity when taking a break.

6. Exit a Stop Sooner, or Park Further Away

Incorporating more walking into your day is critically important.  If you drive or take transit to work, consider parking further away or getting off a stop or two sooner. You can get in some extra movement when you need to walk to your door instead of ending up a few steps from the door. 

7. Try Calf Raises

Whenever you think about it, lift your heels off the ground to do calf raises. You can do this either sitting or standing and do them whenever you have the chance. Waiting for a bus, standing in line at the grocery store, stuck in a meeting at work, taking the elevator – all of this “dead” time can include these easy exercises throughout the day. They don’t require any space like lunges and are far less noticeable than doing squats so that they can be done anywhere, any time.  

Norma Walton recommends taking phone calls standing.

8. Take and Make Phone Calls Standing

When I walk in the morning, I talk on the phone to friends and family.  Cell phones are known as mobile phones for a reason. They allow you to take and make calls from anywhere. Rather than sitting at your desk while on the phone, walk around the office or for a long call take a half hour walk or stand until the call is complete.

9. Ask Co-workers to Join You for Walking Meetings

If you know that your co-worker is active or wants to be more active, ask them if they would mind having a meeting walking instead of sitting.  Don’t let the conventions of the workplace keep you stuck inside or in meeting rooms all day. Walking meetings are far healthier and usually result in a faster meeting. This is perfect if you need one on one time but also works for smaller groups. In nice weather, you can take it outside and get some fresh air.

10. Take a Breather When Stressed

Breath is one of our most powerful tools.  Taking a deep breath can calm our body down and energize us.  It can remove stress.  It impacts our entire body and mind.  If you find you are having a particularly stressful day, use it as an excuse to take a breather. Remove yourself from your work environment — anywhere you can move around, take a break, and regain a sense of calm before returning to your day.  Breathe deeply into your belly, hold it, then release it entirely so your belly is empty.  Repeat.  You can also do shoulder shrugs and shoulder rolls while breathing.  All of this breathing will definitely decrease your stress.

Norma Walton recommends deep breathing.

11. Watch TV Standing or Stretching

If you’re binge-watching your favourite show, consider doing something physical instead of just lying on the couch. Do some stretches, walk on the spot, lift some weights, go on the treadmill, and move a bit.  Whatever you can do to keep moving works. If this isn’t appealing, at least stand up during the commercials. You spare yourself having to listen to the same messages over and over again and benefit from the movement.

12. Take a Walk at Lunch

Walking outside is so beneficial in so many ways.  The movement, the blood flow, the fresh air, the wonder of nature…it is all positive.  Hence consider using your lunch hours or break times to go outside and take a walk.  Ask a coworker to join you if you want company, or head out on your own for some solitude with nature.  On the weekend, don’t break the habit. Have a morning walk or ask your kids or partner to join you on Saturday and Sunday.

13. Take Up a Sport or Activity

An organized sport or activity will permit you to exercise regularly, have fun and potentially meet new people.  Think of a sport or activity you could start to avoid spending so much time on the couch. Consider swimming, dancing, tennis, playing catch, biking, frisbee, golf.  You are seeking active and healthy.

The more you move, the healthier you are.  Your body will feel good with the added activity and will provide you with more energy.  Hope you find a few of these tips helpful and capable of being incorporated into your daily routine.  The result will keep you moving to hopefully enjoy a longer, healthier and happier life.

Norma Walton recommends 13 tips for a healthy body.
Posted in Uncategorized

The Benefits of a Morning Walk with Norma Walton

Norma Walton Michelle Obama Benefits of Walking

I remember reading that Michele Obama woke up really early to ensure she fit a workout in every day.  When her first daughter was four months old, that meant 4:30 am.  That is a little crazy-early for me.  Nonetheless, the concept appealed to me that if you fit your workout in first thing in the morning then it is done for the rest of the day.

I love a morning walk. The weather is fresh; it is quiet, still and peaceful; you get your exercise out of the way for the day; and you feel more invigorated with energy for the remainder of the day. It definitely takes extra effort to get up early to add a walk into your morning regime but for me, the benefits far outweigh that one challenge. I am now used to the early rise and like being up before the rest of my crew.  I have found that my morning walk brings the following health benefits: 

Energy Boost

We’ll start here because it is the first thing you’ll notice following your walk. Exercising outdoors is an excellent way to increase your energy.  The fresh air and morning quiet gives you a boost.  Although I typically walk for between 30 and 60 minutes each morning, it takes just 20 minutes of brisk walking to enjoy the newfound vitality. Instead of reaching for that cup of coffee in the morning with your eyes half closed, may I suggest you instead lace up your shoes and head out to take in some fresh air and get your circulation pumping.

Happier Mood

I tend to run happy but notice that even generally cranky people benefit from exercise.  So if you live with someone who tends to wake up angry, drag him with you on your morning walk.  Mood improvements are a wonderful benefit of morning walks, which can create an overall feeling of well-being.  Pumping a few endorphins through your body first thing can improve your mood for the entire day. Your daily constitutional can also improve self-esteem, reduce stress and anxiety, shake off fatigue, and even ease symptoms of depression.  All of these positive feelings can be achieved with a 20 minute walk five mornings a week.

Get Exercise Out of the Way

If you’re like a lot of people, the thought of exercise might be a real turn off. However, a morning walk can provide enough exercise for the day. It is one of the best forms of physical activity and I find it far more pleasant than trying to work out at home or in a gym. If you find yourself trying to avoid exercise, walking feels more like a treat than the drudgery of exercising. Even a slower paced walk can do wonders for your health.. Walk at whatever pace you feel comfortable. After your walk, you will feel satisfaction in the knowledge that you’re done for the day.

Weight Loss and Avoiding Weight Gain

At my age, the objective is not to gain any more weight.  A daily walk helps me maintain my weight.  For some, a daily walk will not only permit you to maintain your weight but will allow you to shed a few excess pounds.  Weight loss typically makes you look better, move easier, and improve overall health. A brisk morning walk lasting 30 minutes burns approximately 150 calories per walk.  Walking five days a week means you are burning 750 calories a week from walking.  That makes a difference…that is a pound of weight lost each month you walk.

For Your Health

Walking will improve your health.  A morning walk can help you better manage your health, prevent some health problems, and make it easier to live with chronic health challenges. Because you are exercising, you are receiving an immune system boost, coursing endorphins through your body, promoting weight maintenance or weight loss, and reducing your risk for heart disease. If you suffer from diabetes, walking can also help you better manage glucose levels.  There is even some research suggesting that walking daily will reduce your risk of contracting some forms of cancer and will increase your lifespan.  What’s not to like?

Improve Muscle Strength

As we age, we lose muscle and gain fat.  Our bodies change in ways we typically don’t appreciate.  A nice brisk walk can help strengthen leg muscles. Going uphill or taking the stairs can further increase the impact of walking on your leg muscles and also increase your leg strength. Even a slight incline gets your heart and muscles pumping. A walk is a pleasant way to keep leg muscles toned. To get your arm muscles into the act, consider carrying small weights with you or bringing Nordic poles along on your walk.  I often walk to the grocery store in the morning then walk home laden with groceries in my back pack and in my arms.  Although sometimes I feel like a pack mule, I have no doubt it is good for me.

Norma Walton explores mountains in Nevada

Mental Clarity

For me, being quiet in nature is an excellent stress buster.  If you live in a neighbourhood with green space, you can clear your head by drinking in that natural beauty each morning. Even in an urban space, you can improve mental clarity with a morning walk but the more nature you can incorporate into your morning walk, the more you will benefit. As we age, our brains become foggier.  A morning walk helps keep that youthful cognitive function that keeps your mind sharp. If you do creative work, a morning walk can open up your creativity and remove blocks. You can even experience improved problem-solving skills.  I always find solutions to my problems come to me after a good night’s sleep and a morning walk.

A Good Night’s Sleep

When you are up early for your walk, you tend to tire earlier at night.  When my head hits the pillow, it is easy for me to fall asleep.  In my view, even though you are walking in the morning, that activity actually helps you sleep better at night. Also, if you suffer from mild insomnia, a morning walk is better than an evening walk because you don’t want your body moving into an energy-producing mode just before bed. Also, with a morning kick start, your metabolism will work better throughout the day. Once your morning walk is a habit, you start to create a nice cycle providing yourself with much needed energy in the morning and throughout the day with improved sleep at night, allowing you to wake ready for your next walk the next morning.

Norma Walton kids sleeping

Summer Friendly

Toronto has been hot the past few days.  Walking in the middle of the day would be uncomfortable.  Walking in the morning allows you to take advantage of the coolest part of the day.  I always drink a big glass of water before heading out for my walk, and another one upon my return.  Others bring water with them.

Motion is Lotion

Three members of my household suffer from back pain.  Although laying down may seem the obvious fix, they find it is actually the worst thing you can do.  Staying  up and staying active will help work out the back problem faster than lying prone and still.  If you suffer from chronic pain of any kind, it is hard to get into the spirit of the motion-is-lotion movement.  However, I believe it is true and can help you relieve your pain. You can start out with slower, shorter walks and avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. Instead, take your time and remember that every step is one towards improved health and a reduction in muscle stiffness and joint pain. Walking actually helps protect your joints, as it promotes production of lubrication while helping to strengthen joint muscles. Once again, this is very important as you age, as it can help manage issues such as arthritis. As a low-impact exercise, it is the safest way to avoid increasing pain, and instead helps reduce swelling and stiffness.

I still think Michelle Obama is a little crazy being up that early.  But I agree wholeheartedly with her opinion that morning is the best time to exercise.  Hopefully the above benefits have encouraged you to give a morning walk a try if you don’t already enjoy one.  If so, then lace it up, take it slow to start, and always stay hydrated.

Norma Walton walk in the woods

Posted in Uncategorized

Finding Stillness: Six Steps to a More Peaceful Day With Norma Walton

Life is loud.  The humming of your computer; the dinging of your smartphone; your air conditioner kicking in; traffic on the highway; laundry spinning; the dishwasher cleaning…all of these sounds take a toll.  It is difficult in the midst of modern living to find peace and quiet…true live-in-the-country, watch-the-stars quiet.

I am blessed with four healthy children aged 8 to 15; an additional teenager bunking with us during the pandemic; a 94-year old mother-in-law; and a husband of 30 years.  All of these creatures are loud more often than not.  All of them are loving about being noisy most of the time and our house is generally a raucous, rambunctious, happy place.  But it is rarely quiet.

I have read a few articles and talked with a few people who recommend meditation for at least 25 minutes a day to calm the mind and promote health and longevity.  Although a laudable concept, meditation is not for me at this point in my life.  Yet I need daily moments of stillness…of peace…of quiet.  Hence determining how to find peaceful intervals during the day is important.  I have made a few such breaks part of my daily routine.  What follows are six steps that help me find peace and quiet in the midst of the chaos that is our modern society and daily lives.

 Norma Walton peaceful day
Vitamin D in Womens Health, Role of Vitamin D3 Supplements in female health. Young woman enjoying sun in nature background.

1. Walking the dogs:  We have two Yorkshire Terriers.  They sleep with my children but the moment I wake up, they start to snuffle and whine and move around because I walk them each morning and each evening.  I have found that the 20 minutes I spend walking the two dogs twice a day is a time of immense peace and happiness for me.  Other dog walkers are generally friendly but most of the time I am alone with my puppies and my thoughts.  It is an ideal time to bask in the quiet while also marveling at the natural beauty all around.  Walking the dogs is a time of quiet reflection for me.

2. My daily walk:  After walking the puppies, I walk myself.  Rain or shine, I am typically out for a morning walk of between half an hour and an hour in duration. Although I enjoy calling and catching up with my folks or my friends during my morning walk, half of the time I walk in silence just thinking, looking around, greeting other walkers, and being present.  That is a good time for me.  I always come back from my walk refreshed and feeling much better.

3.  Stretching in the shower:  I love a hot shower and after I shower, I always stretch for at least a few minutes.  The air is warm and full of moisture and I inhale deeply while stretching with the water beating down on my back.  It is peaceful and my body appreciates being limber for the day because of the calisthenics.

4.  Reading a good book:  I have always loved to read.  My first part-time job was at the Byron Public Library where I would bring home loads of books every day after work.  Still decades later when I want to relax, I tuck into my chair with a good book and can read for literally hours at a time.  Jeffrey Archer is a favourite author along with John Grisham, but anything that engages me will do.  Reading a good book always makes me feel relaxed and happy, as does going to the library to find my next one.

5.  Journaling:  I keep a current journal with photos, pictures, words, poems, quotes, ideas, financial plans, business ideas, goals, items from the kids…anything that I find meaningful.  Spending time writing in my journal or cutting out a photo or picture that speaks to me and taping it in is satisfying.  I like the feel of the thick paper in my hands as I dream and create.  That activity makes me feel good and at peace.

6.  Hugging loved ones:  The moment of a hug is a peaceful, happy point in time.  We sometimes forget to slow down and hug our children, our parents, or our spouse.  Life is rushed and hurried and often stressful so we race around oblivious to the power of touch.  When we do take a moment to put our arms around someone we love, time slows down or stops.  That point of touch allows us to take a deep breath in and out to remember the value of the people around us whom we love.  When we take the time to show them we appreciate them, life always becomes a little bit better.

norma walton walks dogs

Daily life is hectic.  Modern society values speed.  Rushing around has become the norm.  We are rarely without our phones.  It is no wonder, then, that many people are anxious and unhappy.  Being stressed on a regular basis is not healthy.  In contrast, being able to find peace, stillness and relaxation in the midst of your day keeps you grounded.  Your mental health improves with every touch, with every deep breath, with every positive thought.  It doesn’t require hours of your time but merely minutes to change your mood.  Yet taking those minutes is crucial to enjoying your life.

The key for me has been incorporating the above six steps into my daily routine.  Once something is a habit, there is no need to motivate yourself to do it.  You just do it.  The above examples are mine and reflect what I find provides stillness and peace in my life.  You may have different activities that make you feel happy each day.  The key is being aware that you need some quiet in your daily life then determining the activities that provide you with that time.  The objective is to find your own activities that bring you contentment and then incorporate them into your daily life and daily routine. Life is still loud.  I don’t live in the country and the lights of the city make the stars hard to see.  But the six activities above have permitted me to find stillness and contentment in the midst of all the noise. I am much happier for it.

Norma Walton mother
Hugging mother and daughter in the park
Posted in Investing

Three Lessons Learned from Owning a Bridle Path Home

Owning a Bridle Path Home 2

The Bridle Path or “Millionaire’s Row” seems the pinnacle of Canadian home ownership.  Celebrities such as Celine Dion, Drake, Prince, Mick Jagger and Gordon Lightfoot have all called this neighbourhood home.  Living in the Bridle Path is considered “making it” by many ordinary Canadians. 

My husband and I lived there with our four young children between 2012 and 2014 and there were definite pluses, the biggest being the park-like back yard.  But I would not go back even if I could.

The three lessons I learned from owning a Bridle Path home are as follows:

Lesson One: If you need a mortgage to afford a home in the Bridle Path, this neighbourhood is not for you. 

I was told this by one of our lenders at the time and thought it a strange comment, but in hindsight he was absolutely right.  This is a neighbourhood for extremely wealthy people – celebrities, titans of industry and old money.  If you require a mortgage to join them, you should move somewhere else.

Lesson Two: This is not a neighbourhood in the real sense of the word. 

You will not have any neighbours within view when you exit your home; your children will not have any playmates on the street; no one will have eyes on your house when you are not there; almost every house has large fences or walls around it; and you won’t meet any of your neighbours.  There is no street activity like ball hockey, raking leaves, playing hoops in your driveway, sitting on the porch, or walking and jogging like on a normal street.  This is an exclusive, estate-lot type setting, where everyone keeps to themselves and everyone expects privacy.

Lesson Three: Buying a home in the Bridle Path is not an investment but an expense. 

Even without a mortgage you will likely have property taxes of $10,000 per month, utility bills of $10,000 per month, and maintenance fees of $5,000 per month.  That tallies $300,000 per year in home expenses even without a mortgage.  Hence this type of home requires that the owner have a robust ongoing income from other sources to cover the $25,000 monthly bills. Even if the home increases in value over time, the ongoing expenses will likely eat up any capital gain.

Drake is a perfect resident of the Bridle Path.  Normal folk not so much.

Drake - Canadian Musician

Posted in Finance

Charles Dickens was right

Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield in 1850. In it, he introduced a character named Wilkins Micawber. Wilkins said something incredibly wise yet incredibly simple:

Income 20 pounds
Expenses 19 pounds
Result: Happiness

Income 20 pounds
Expenses 21 pounds
Result: Misery

That concept is fundamental to financial management. If your income does not cover your expenses, you will struggle in life whereas if your income does cover your expenses, even by a little bit, you will generally be happy financially.

When I apply that concept to my own life, I realize that I either have to earn more income or reduce my expenses when I am not in balance. The key is to make more or spend less.

Charles Dickens was right!