Weight Therapy #10: Activity

The number-one thing that everybody should agree on (full disclosure: they don’t) is that any movement is better than none.

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That is, if you walk your dog, push a grocery cart, haul water or run after the school bus, it all works your body and is better than the alternative.

The reason I’m talking about this now is I’m back to my “default” activity I discovered three years ago, the first time I lost all the weight I’m fighting round-two on.

If you’re going for maximum fitness, you will do well to include weight-training (with serious weights that you have to think about) on a regular basis. If you’re going for best use of time for a “cardio” activity, you’ll do intervals on whatever device (bicycle, treadmill, city block) you’ve committed to.

But if what you like is neither of those highly efficient forms of exercise, it still has value.

What is the best form of exercise for you? The one you keep doing.

For me that’s walking. Treadmill walking. The kind of exercise a bunch of people I  respect say will gradually become useless, because my body will adapt and “efficiently” skip seeing it as exercise.

I’ve read some of that research. I’m not disagreeing with their conclusions, but here’s the truth: I am a long way from “efficiency” right now.

So if I ever get so fit that walking can’t get my blood pumping, well, I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. Right now I’m just enjoying how warm it leaves me for barn chores in the evening.

At -40º I’ll take all the help I can get.

Walking does three things for me that are good for my mental health as well as my physical health.

  • It give me a chance to be alone
  • I have a “free” space to read anything I want, or watch a show, guilt- and obligation-free. (This is why I prefer the treadmill.)
  • The repetitious bilateral (left-right-left-right) activity is theorized to strengthen the brain’s integration of both sides (an intriguing theory to me, especially thinking a lot lately about how the left and right sides balance one another in terms of attitude). Basically, the idea is the continual, even activity may help even out some of the inequality that exists within the brain.

Dunno if such “evening” is actually possible, but it’s a cool idea, and adds potential value to a simple activity.

  • And I just plain feel more rooted after walking.

The point is, do what you can. As often as you can. And think about how you feel. This is to take care of yourself, so don’t let it derail that effort.

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If you’re still tired from your previous workout when it’s time for the next one, take a day off.

If you feel more hungry, eat more within your HEP.

Never use exercise as an excuse to eat junk (you’ll never guess the ratio right, speaking statistically), but remember to fuel your body.

Exercise is asking your body to do more. Don’t punish it by then expecting it to subsist on less than it did with less activity.

6 thoughts on “Weight Therapy #10: Activity

  1. I’m doing weight training on a small scale to help build muscle, but I’m not sure it will work with my polio-ravaged muscles (left leg and right arm). There is some evidence that extra exercise on post-polio muscles only wear them out sooner. Doing the exercises during morning Bible study on the radio works for me. If I had a walking machine, I’d feel better about watching videos- making constructive use of that time, but don’t. Finding a way that works for you to keep moving is a good point.

  2. I like weight training, just because I like playing with weights. But walking has always been best for me, just because I actually get out and do it.

    My mom is sort of a student of wellness. All of my great-aunts died of various kinds of dementia, and my mom observed that all of them were sedentary. After a while, they just took to a chair and stopped moving around. So I think there’s something to that study about walking balancing your brain. (Also all of my great-aunts were bitter, angry people estranged from their children, which apparently is another common denominator of Alzheimer’s.)

  3. It’s been fascinating to switch to exercise-as-transportation. We chose not to own a car in the Netherlands, so if we want to go ANYWHERE, we have to bike or at least walk to a bus stop. No more stepping out the door into a car into the door of our destination. So without making time for “exercise,” I am getting more cardio every day just by living life. This is fantastic. I can’t imagine going back to living without bikes.

  4. @ Teena: Have you done body-weight stuff, like squats or upright push-ups (off the wall, or a kitchen counter, until you build enough strength for “real” horizontal ones)? I’ve heard that’s useful thing to alternate with free weights, and since you’re lifting your body already, maybe that would make a difference?

    @Kessie: that makes me think of a woman whole called such negativity “muscle memory.”

  5. It makes sense when you live in an urban setting. I biked (and walked with the wagon/a load of kids) a lot more when I lived in the middle of town.

    Now I just smile and nod when I hear people talk about living without a car. I think it’s a nice idea, but with the extreme cold here we were never interested in dredging up the dedication necessary to bike year-round, even when work was 20 minutes away by bike instead of 23 by car.

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