Tag Archives: health

The Red Queen’s Race


This quote (on the left), from Lewis Carroll’s classic Through the Looking-Glass, has resided in my office since I became a mother 29 years ago. When our first child was born demands for my time increased while hours in the day remained the same. It was during those first months of her life, as I juggled home and work, that I remembered the Red Queen. In this story, the Red Queen and Alice are running hand in hand as Alice is being urged to go “Faster! Faster!” As they run, Alice is panting for breath and thinking she can not possibly go any faster. The queen urges her to speed up as Alice gasps “Are we near there?”

When they finally stop running Alice looks around and realizes they haven’t gone anywhere. She says, “Well in our country you’d generally get to somewhere else if you ran very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.” The queen replies, ‘A slow sort of country.” and then goes on to speak her famous lines “If you want to get somewhere else you must run at least twice as fast as that.”

Wow. That about summed up my life as a new parent. I had been living in a peaceful, ‘slow sort of country’ where I took care of myself and my husband took care of himself. Then everything changed with the arrival of our daughter and I needed to move fast. Faster than I had ever before. This new ‘country’ I entered was that of a parent.

During the past couple of years, with our kids all out of the home, I started slowing down. This turned out to be short-lived. My husband recently heard about a study titled “Functional Status (Walking Speed) is an Important Reflection of Health” which appeared in The Journal of the American Medical Association in January, 2011. Basically, the research indicates that people who walk faster are healthier and live longer. Significantly so.

What constitutes fast walking? You should walk at least 2.25 miles per hour but it would be even better if you walked 3 (or more) miles per hour. Three miles per hour is comparable to 4.26 feet per second. That sounds suspiciously like running to me.

Taking this research to heart, each morning when we are on our walk, my husband is urging me to go “Faster! Faster!” As I pick up my pace I smile. Life sure does come full circle, doesn’t it?

The other day, I looked at this quote on my office wall and realized I am entering yet another new ‘country’. This is the country called aging. While I don’t get to slow down my pace, I am happy to embark on this new journey and am bound and determined to do well in this particular race.

If you are interested in reading Through the Looking-Glass, you may download a free copy from Project Gutenburg