Things I think: Surviving the treadmill

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Exercise can be hazardous to your health. Like antipsychotics, its pursuit should include a black box warning that atypical, or even typical, fitness attempts carry increased risk of injury and embarrassment.

Personally, I favor a nationwide initiative to reduce its use, especially after hearing what happened to my friend Janet (not her real name, which is Brenda).

One moment, she was on a treadmill running full throttle, eyes ahead, focused. Then she was falling, flailing at the stop button, then clinging desperately to the handrails with knees bouncing on the still-spinning belt.

“It was a nightmare,” reported a compassionate friend and eyewitness. “I laugh out loud whenever I think about it.”

Eventually, Brenda accepted gravity's reality, belly flopping onto the demonic device before being propelled backward into a group of galley slaves on rowing machines. She left skid marks and a ghastly trail of skin behind her.

Since you work in long-term care, you'll probably have two reactions to this terrifying story. First would be, “That poor woman,” followed by, “Yep, I've had work days like that.”

You know the ones, where the challenges spin fast and unrelenting, and you're navigating them successfully on autopilot at top velocity. Then one little thing goes sidewise, and your whole edifice of flawless efficiency comes crashing down. You ail and fall, perhaps brushing off a resident or exploding at a colleague, then slink away bruised, humiliated.

On days like that, treadmill disaster can be averted by staying present, watching your feet, and forcing yourself to step off some- times to remember what's important. Thankfully, the world now abounds with helpful reminder apps for preemptive acts as simple and proven-effective as standing, walking and breathing.

Just a few intentional choices of mind over maelstrom can help us each prevent a brutal fall — and maybe even survive the treadmill.

Things I Think is written by Gary Tetz, a national Silver Medalist and regional Gold Medal winner in Humor Writing in the 2014 American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE) awards program.