Get moving

The difference in my activity level between my childhood days and when I started working was dramatic. It took a concerted effort to incorporate activity in my life again, but I’m glad I did.

Get moving by Nancy Knowlton

When I was a kid, during the summer my days on our farm would start early and end late. Most often we would pack a lunch of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and some Kool-Aid and be gone from the house until dinnertime. I spent my days with siblings and friends going all over the place. We walked in the woods and explored. Sometimes we went fishing. We rode our bikes to the beach and played and swam for what seemed like hours. We also worked hard on the farm, lifting hay bales and working in our garden. I ran to get the cows and worked in the barn with all of the animals. It was much the same story at school – sports and just being a kid kept me on the move all the time. I sat still in class but that was about the only time I did so.

All work and no play

Then as I started to work, I found that I had a lot of concentrated time at a desk. My days as a chartered accountant, particularly during the busy season, meant long days sitting, reading and writing. Then when we started SMART Technologies, my work hours expanded yet again, with many hours spent in front of a computer. Slowly but surely, my level of activity decreased. What started as an active life after work with basketball and squash gradually just faded out to an inactive lifestyle.

Finding a balance

Then I woke up, almost literally one day, with a view to making a fundamental change in the way that would get me back to a more active lifestyle. Fortunately, Dave had a similar desire and we not only started together, we did almost everything together. We both shared the outlook that we wanted to play games or a sport versus going to a gym to work with a machine or apparatus.

We had both little strength and little stamina as we started. I was surprised at how out of shape we were. I don’t know why, but somehow I thought we would have maintained a reasonable level of conditioning, even as we became more and more sedentary. Starting out was a humbling experience, but we got through the challenges and stuck with the plan. It wasn’t something that happened for us overnight. It took effort and a view that this was a way of living and not some quick-fix plan.

Satisfying results

Now several years later, we both are in dramatically better shape than when we started. I have stamina galore. I can ride my bike and play golf as much as I like. I can push myself to the point of fatigue – and that takes a lot. I have built muscle in places where I want it. I have slimmed down and toned up.

An old expression goes like this – the journey of a thousand miles begins with one small step. What seems like a daunting journey to get in shape after years of neglect is simply life. Putting one foot in front of the other each and every day is all that it took to make a profound change in my personal fitness. Now I cannot imagine a day without the satisfaction of a good amount of exercise. I feel good and know that I am helping my overall health.

The key was simply to get started – to get moving.


Need a little motivation? How about keeping track of your daily progress? Companies like FitBit, Withings, Nike and others have wearable devices that help track your activity levels. If you are competitive and want to hit targets or beat your personal best, these devices will do the hard work for you with data and charts.

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Nancy Knowlton
Nancy Knowlton is co-founder and CEO of Nureva Inc. and previously the co-founder and CEO of SMART Technologies. She writes about education, entrepreneurship, business management, technology, innovation and other passions.