I think we can all agree the world would be a healthier place if more people stepped on snakes. The calories burned high-stepping and arm waving alone rivals any exercise program on the market not to mention the aerobic benefits are off the scale.

Let’s not forget the high pitched, quavering screams, either. Works wonders for the lungs, high-pitched quavering screams. If it is high-pitched and quavering enough it might even clear your sinuses.

Not only that but sufficiently loud screams inspire others to exercise when they take off running at a high-rate of speed in all directions away from you. My wife stepped on a snake in our pasture a few months back and I set a personal best fifty-yard dash before I realized the cause of her shrieks was not pursing me. Of course, cynic that she is, I don’t think she believed me when I told her that I hadn’t abandoned her, but was leading away whatever it was that caused her to scream. At least, I don’t think she believed me. It’s hard to tell when all she does is frown at you with one eyebrow raised.

Maybe I should point out that I am only talking about accidently stepping on a snake. The world would definitely not be a healthier place if people went around intentionally stepping on snakes. If that was the case, the world would be a place in serious need of medication. Besides, take it from someone who knows, it is the surprise factor that really gets the juices (and possibly other liquids) flowing.

There are two main categories of stepping on a snake – the shoed category and the unshoed category. I’ve done both and let me tell you the unshoed category is best for shear energy expended in the shortest amount of time. More on that later.

My first snake stepping was the shoed variety and thank goodness the shoes involved were snake-proof boots. It took place in a field a few steps from a swamp. It was a windy day. I stopped to talk to my friend who was standing in some tall grass. I kept feeling something slapping at the side of my boot, but I assumed it was the grass flapping in the wind. I finally glanced down and there it was, a foot-long copperhead striking me for all it was worth. My buddy spotted the snake the same time I did. Me, him and the snake all parted company at high rates of speed.

The good news is I can vouch for snake boots. They work. The only improvement I can think of for snake boots is to equip them with some kind of built in device to shock your heart in to beating again.

The next time I stepped on a snake, I was bare foot at a local baseball field tossing a baseball around with my six-year-old son. I was going for the ball when I stepped on a corn snake that was apparently sunning itself in the grass of center field.

I am not proud of my reaction.

Flocks of birds six miles away took flight in a panic.

I also added greatly to my son’s vocabulary.

“It was the snake’s fault,” I tried to explain to my wife, Marianne.

“#@)@*#R#$#” my little boy added, helpfully.

At least my sinus’s never felt better.

I spend a lot of my free time in woods, swamps, rivers and ponds of the deep South. It is a snake-intensive place, the deep South. I’ve had all sorts of snake encounters, the vast majority of which was the non-eventful, live and let live type deals. Not all, though. I once had a snake fall in a canoe with me and my best friend, Charles. It was a water moccasin and it went crazy. All three of us made several invigorating laps around the canoe until Charles managed to flip it out of the boat with a paddle.

I know you snake-stepping purist out there will disagree with me on this, but, like the canoe incident demonstrates, you don’t always have to actually step on a snake to achieve the full health benefits of snake encounters. Our cat, Alphonso, once dragged a very much alive and agitated four-foot black snake into our living room and dropped it at Marianne’s feet.

Marianne nearly sucked all the air out of the room preparing to scream. When she did scream, it shook the rafters of our house and bowed the windows of several of our neighbors’ houses. The scream had only started, when she brought aerobics into the picture by ricocheting off a few walls before bounding out of there.

Afterward, she told me her sinuses never felt better.

I’ve only been hurt by one snake.

It was another copperhead – a little guy. I ran outside in a rain storm to shut some chickens up in their coop. I was, like an idiot, barefoot again. I stepped right on it and it bit me on the top of my foot. Two days later my foot was black and swollen. Two days after that, I went to the doctor, who proceeded to call me an idiot for waiting so long.

“I can’t believe that little &@!$@#@ bit me.” I told Marianne, further expanding the boy’s vocabulary.

Of course, Marianne took the snake’s side. “Remember,” she told me. “That snake was as scared of you as you were of it.”

“Then why did only one of us scream to the top of his lungs and wet himself?”

She just stared at me with a raised eyebrow.