By Pete Pfeffer
We’ve made another trip around the sun, the days are longer, and the icy grip of winter is broken. The flowers will return, gardens will bloom and the trees will regain their leaves.
The Ancient Greeks tell a story about the incredibly beautiful Persephone. She is gathering flowers in a meadow when she is kidnapped by Hades to keep him company in the underworld. The rest of the Greek world is in anguish because with Persephone gone, flowers won’t bloom, trees won’t bear fruit and crops won’t grow. Her mother, Demeter, searches but is unable to find her.
Fortunately Apollo, making his rounds, spots her and reports her whereabouts to her father, Zeus. Zeus sends Hermes, his messenger, to retrieve her and all is essentially resolved. Persephone has been located and is about to be returned to her mother, the flowers are set to blossom and all will be restored. But there’s one little catch: If you eat in the underworld, you stay in the underworld…for good.
The question, of course, is who would eat in the underworld? Well, apparently there isn’t much else to do, and a good host always offers a snack. Hades did just this; he offered Persephone a pomegranate. Persephone knew the rules, but if she didn’t eat the pomegranate and had just a few seeds that wouldn’t count, right?
Wrong! The six little seeds she consumed equated six months each year that she would have to spend in the underworld. And, you guessed it: During those six months, nothing would grow or bloom. That makes that fickle groundhog and six more weeks of winter look generous.
Lucky for us, those six months have expired and spring has returned. With warmer temperatures it’s time to get outside. One of the best exercises for humans is walking. Everyone from fitness gurus to prominent brain scientists agree that walking is a human genetic requirement for health.
The perfect way to start is walking 10 minutes a day, increasing one minute a day until you reach 30. If you are more ambitious, try “Couch to 5K” (C25K), an app for your smart phone that will escort you from inactivity to running three miles in 30 minutes or less.
I recommend this even for seasoned walkers/runners who are restarting fitness programs to avoid soreness or injury.
It’s time to get outside and exercise! So start with a walk, or C25K, but be careful in the meadows, and beware of Greeks bearing gifts.
Peter Pfeffer is a doctor of chiropractic with HealthSource Chiropractic and Progressive Rehab in Alexandria.