Mom’s words of wisdom make sense

Mother’s Day is a fun time to review some old wives’ tales that abound in the health and wellness arena.

My mom used to say, “the difference between a man and a boy is that a man walks around a puddle and a boy plods right through them.”

At the beginning of a walk or run, I avoid puddles and meander around them. At the end of the walk or run, I plod right through puddles. At the start of a walk or run, I’m very much in the adult world. As the walk or run progresses and the play mentality evolves, I become very much boy-like.

Funny I don’t remember my mother telling me how to tell the difference between a girl and a lady. My younger sister would plow through puddles too.

Studies have shown that hard physical work did not change the coronary risk factors in more than 30,000 men. In the same group, hard physical activity during leisure time was accompanied by a significant reduction in risk factors and heart attacks. That was accomplished not by hard work but by swimming running and heavy gardening, by tennis, squash, and handball, and by other forms of play.

But exercise during leisure time can easily become more like work than play. The drive to lift more weight, climb more stairs burn more calories can stifle the psychological and emotional benefits of playing recreational activities. Noted sports medicine physician Tim Noakes coined the term selfish athletic syndrome which can develop as result of competitive recreational exercise. The aim is not walking or running but walking or running that is play.

Exercise and training to compete in sports require dedication and hard work. Work and sacrifice can result in tremendous self-satisfaction.

However, sports and exercise do not always have to be competitive. Walking or running to feel the rain, seeing the blue Heron in flight, smell the damp forest and here the early morning crispness can be rewarding.

The uninhibited laughter stimulated by friendly conversation during a round of golf is play. Tension and stress can be released by shooting basketball hoops by yourself.

There are times when a conscious effort to walk or run through puddles needs to be made. There are times when the process is more important than the outcome. Recreation and play should be an activity that facilitates the free creation of oneself.

Mom said don’t put all your eggs into one basket. She encouraged me to try a variety of sports and to not play basketball all year round. Her thinking was to become well-rounded. She was right. If I did one sport year-round it would’ve ceased to be play and would have become more like work, more adult.

Mom also said don’t go out in the rain without your galoshes rain boots on or you will catch your death of a cold. Obviously, she knew I would plod right through the puddles. I did not die from a head cold, and I now know that colds are caused by viruses, not wet weather. She did tell me to wash my hands, but she did not say, that you will catch a cold from shaking hands with people who have colds. Nor did she appreciate how risky it is to stay inside with people who have respiratory viruses.

I wonder what happened to all those galoshes that filled up our closets as children.

Mom said stand up straight. As a physical therapist, I appreciate the importance of this guidance. Optimal posture plays a role in preventing aches and pain.

It is amazing how many patients say to me after I counseled them on a more optimal posture that’s what mom said, “Sit up straight.” Counseling patients suffering from back and neck pain I will use simple instructions: “Sit like your mom is around.”

Mom said that to cool off in the summer don’t take a cool shower but a hot one. As a kid I didn’t think it made sense. As I began to understand the human body better it made sense. Cold water stimulates the blood vessels in the skin to constrict. Constricted blood vessels keep the hot blood from reaching the skin. The blood needs to reach the skin so the body heat can be dissipated.

If old wives tales are what moms say. Some of them make rather good sense. Moms are smart people.


The information on this website is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You are encouraged to perform additional research regarding any information contained available through this website with other sources and consult with your physician.

Damien Howell Physical Therapy – 804-647-9499 – Fax: 866-879-8591 At-Home, At Office, At Fitness Facility – I come to you, I do home visits

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