Exercise

When I was young I naturally had plenty of exercise. It helped that my parents didn't bother to drive me most of the time and there were no buses to my junior high or high school, so I did a lot of walking (high school was well over a mile each way). That included walking through the blinding snow-storms we regularly got in Newfoundland. Even in college and grad school I was mostly car-less; I'd get occasional rides from strangers when they saw me walking home with bags of groceries (in the rain I looked particularly pathetic, I guess), but mostly it was walk, walk walk. Or sometimes take a city bus. I'd occasionally take my bike out for long rides in the hills around Ithaca.

Then my girlfriend acquired a car, and life got a lot easier. Even the bike was forgotten, then stolen. We still had jut one car between us, and in our first year of married life we spent many months in separate towns, so I still did a lot of riding a (new) bike to work and around. But once we were together again that slacked off quickly; down to one bike ride a year or so, then none, and then a couple of years later we acquired a second car. And the inevitable happened - I started gaining weight. Just a few pounds a year, but over almost 20 years that added up. Waist size grew, and occasional extra exertions really tired me out. I was getting old and out of shape!

Then in 2004 Shelly decided we needed to do something about this, and signed us up for a nearby gym as a family. It took me a few months to get going regularly, but I did for a while, mostly doing weights with the various machines. It definitely helped me feel a bit stronger and healthier, but I didn't have that strong internal motivation, and it wasn't long before I was down to once a month visits or less. It was helping to keep me a little stronger and fitter, but I definitely wasn't losing any weight.

Finally, January 2008 I felt inspired to do more, with rather specific feelings that I needed to make my gym visits a regular part of the daily routine. From that conviction I've been able to keep at it over a year now, specifically running at least 3 times a week on the treadmills. At the start in 2008 I couldn't even run 2 miles in 30 minutes, less than a 4-mph average speed. Shelly's father (22 years older than me) has been a regular 3 times/week runner for a long time, and his standard run was 3 miles in about 25 minutes, so that became my goal. By mid-February I was up to 2 and a quarter miles in 30 minutes, and was up to 2.5 miles in March, already making it my longest consistent streak of gym visits.

Six months of the routine got me to my 3 miles goal, finally in mid-July last year. I've been keeping at or improving upon that since then, now I can run close to 3.5 miles in half an hour, with an 8 mph peak speed. It feels good, and I've been starting to lose a little weight. I haven't been tracking that closely, but I'm at least 10 pounds below my highest weight now and some old clothes are feeling a little loose!

What are the benefits? I don't get nearly as tired during the day, I feel energy to do many things now that I didn't before. I get up regularly at a pretty early time so I'm ready for the day, instead of sleeping in. And I can exert myself to a much greater extent in other physical activities when the need arises - like helping to move a friend yesterday.

I think I'll be able to keep at this. I needed that inspirational conviction that I really needed to do this. I needed the gym membership to have a variety of things to do (I can swim if my body doesn't feel up to running or weights once in a while). I needed to make it a regular part of the daily routine, so that even when traveling I still work out pretty much every day. All that probably wouldn't work exactly the same for anybody else, but it was enough for me, and I'm pretty happy with it!

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Nice going! I haven't

Nice going! I haven't belonged to a gym since I was in my mid twenties (and was "anorexic" if you listened to my brother) so I settled back into a weight that seems comfortable for me, except during the three pregnancies. I was notoriously unathletic as a kid and got very little exercise, so it's mostly diet for me...although I do try to use the fitness center when I travel (don't have to cook, clean, or chauffeur during those weeks) and I have been trying to do power walks after dinner (now that the weather is warmer). May we all stay healthy.

Congratulations Arthur!

Congratulations Arthur! That's great.

For myself, I have found it best to find activities where I can trick myself into getting exercise since I have difficulty just getting exercise for exercise's sake (and, I positively hate just going out jogging...or running on a treadmill). Ultimate frisbee has been great in that regard...and orienteering is another sport that can be sufficiently mentally distracting that I don't mind running (well...a combination of walking and running). [It is also a great family activity, by the way!] I'm also still a big fan of trying to get incidental exercise through making myself walk up the stairs to my office or biking to the store to get something.

I agree with you that exercise has lots of benefits...and in fact I think it is vital for me to stay mentally and emotionally healthy, particularly during stressful periods.

I remember your ultimate

I remember your ultimate frisbee playing! How do you get started in orienteering? I'm not sure it's advisable in our suburban environment though.

Actually I've been thinking of taking Benjamin (14 now) out mountain biking - there are some trails around here that are supposed to be quite good. We'll need to get our bikes and legs in shape first though, which is a bit of a hurdle...

Yeah, Qing is actually the

Yeah, Qing is actually the one who got me started on ultimate. She worked on me for years but I didn't try it until a few months before I left grad school. As for orienteering, a college friend took me to my first official meet when I visited her about 10 years ago. And, there is an orienteering club out there in your general neck of the woods: http://www.liorienteering.com/

I've done real mountain biking exactly 3 times in my life...All 3 times I have had a blast but I have never actually gone out and bought a mountain bike so I could keep doing it. This may be a good thing in some ways since I think it is something I could potentially hurt myself at. In general, I am a pretty cautious person in such activities but there is something about the comfort of being on a bike that made me less cautious than usual.

Very indirectly I ran into

Very indirectly I ran into this article that suggests my 30 minutes of intense exercise 3 times a week (and attempts at strength/resistance training in between) is a choice that should work for a lot of people... Really, finding 30 minutes a day isn't that hard, and it does feel like I have more energy to do other things than before I started on this, so I hardly miss that time at all.