Clean Teeth, Strong Legs

I was lamenting to a former boss years ago that I was terrible at climbing hills on my bike – okay, on my own feet, too. It hurt which meant I hated it, so I avoided hills.

His response: “If you hate it, then you should be doing it more”

He was used to the fine-you-win eye roll I gave in return and therefore forgiving enough to offer a suggestion: do squats while you brush your teeth.

While trying to perfect the posture of squats was outside of my realm, I did find a perfect alternative in the wall sit.

Wall Sits are great in that you can build up your strength quickly, so you’re fed encouragement early on in the process. I’ve stopped and started this process over the years in the days leading up to an intense hike or the weeks before a tough backpacking trip and was immensely rewarded with an ability to climb mountains way faster and with very little leg exhaustion. I even smiled some. Oh, and I could talk for a good bit of the journey.

Talking! Up a hill!

This was a great new life ahead of me.

And it’s still great.

I’ve now gotten in the habit of doing this every morning. I tried morning and night, but it was really difficult to get into a schedule with both, so I opted to start small with just the morning and eventually work up to both once that habit was solid.

It was tough to make it to 30 seconds on my first attempt, but I’ve been consistently hitting the full two minutes for a couple months now.

There’s a lot of marks your hitting with this habit:

  • Wall Sits…
    • Build endurance (translation: hills and stairs get easier)
    • Focus training for your brain
    • Strengthen the muscles around your knees (Runner’s Knee sufferers, rejoice!)
    • Are an isometric exercise (meaning lower resting heart rate; therefore lower blood pressure)
    • Are weight bearing (strong bones, here we come!)
  • Dental Hygiene
    • Seriously who actually brushes for a full two minutes otherwise? (If your electric toothbrush “counts” for you, consider yourself excluded)
    • All the stuff your dentist says about gingivitis and other dental maladies affecting the rest of your body
    • Saving yourself on dental bills and, therefore, insurance costs
    • Okay, those procedures don’t just cost money, but time away from work or a million other things you would rather be doing
    • Acknowledging that future “you” will
      • want to eat hard foods as long as possible
      • avoid dentures

Hopefully you’re sold, so when you get ready to brush your teeth tomorrow:

  • Grab your phone and open your stopwatch app
  • Find an open wall, press your back into it and lower down as far as you can without experiencing pain, stopping if your thighs and calves are perpendicular to each other
  • Start the timer and begin to brush your teeth, starting in any quadrant you like (I tend to start with the top-right portion of my mouth)
  • Be sure you keep your stomach in – focus on breathing through your nose and from your chest
  • Try to make it to 30 seconds before you stand up
  • If you’re doing okay, then move to the next quadrant
  • Continue until you simply can’t go on or at 2 minutes

I believe in you! Report back and let us know how it went.

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