Though I usually write about swimming, this article barely mentions it. It’s about Milo of Croton, who was not a swimmer.
Milo was a Greek wrestler in the 6th Century B.C. But he has a message that is as relevant today as it was in my column of Jan. 17 last year. That column stressed three principles of exercise: 1. Do what you CAN do; 2. Be regular; 3. Be gradual.
What’s important about Milo? Well, one day Milo picked up a newborn calf, put it on his shoulders, and walked up a hill. It was something he could do easily.
The next day he again picked up the calf, put it on his shoulders, and walked up the hill. In fact, he made a habit of doing this regularly – every day.
As he did this, the calf grew, just a very little each day, just gradually. That’s the story.
Of course, Milo did this for several years as the calf grew into a bull. He continued to put the creature on his shoulders and walk up that hill, and in the process he became the strongest wrestler in the world.
Milo’s story explains what exercise can do for you. There is no magic to it. You start by doing whatever you can do, something that’s easy for you.
The hardest part is doing it regularly, like brushing your teeth or combing your hair. It doesn’t have to be an everyday habit, but once a week is probably too infrequent. Consider two or three times each week.
Once your exercise – whatever you choose it to be (for me, it’s swimming) – is easy and regular, you can think of how to increase it gradually.
Basically, there are three possible aspects to increase: frequency (do it more often), duration (do it longer), and intensity (do it a little harder or a little faster).
Start with something easy, perhaps just a walk down the block and back, but make it a regular habit. That’s the hard part.
Beyond that accomplishment, you can be gradual in one of three ways. Add another session each week. Or walk a little farther. Or walk a little faster. Who knows where this could take you in a few months or a few years?
There you have it, an exercise plan for 6th Century B.C. or today. It could be the most important New Year’s Resolution you will ever make.
Dr. Bob Colyer of Bluffton is an actively retired college professor, coach and author of “Swim Better: A Guide to Greater Efficiency for Swimmers & Instructors,” directed primarily to non-competitors. email@example.com