Exercise

Why do exercising, and in what form? I hate exercising. The thought of going down the gym to perform amongst the macho band was beyond me.

I had been led to believe that exercise was an important way to loose weight. The standard view is burn some calories to reduce weight. My view now is that exercise doesn’t help me loose weight in the traditional view. I have realised that exercising in the short term doesn’t promote weight loss. I believe the body is far cleverer in managing an optimum weight. So weight taken off due to exercise is put back on by extra eating and lethargy. From what I have read the body is good at compensating and realises that it should relax, take on more energy when you exercise. I haven’t found any studies which confirm that exercising is a primary mechanism for weight loss. Exercising may increase over time the muscle mass (the lean body mass) which will drive up metabolic rate. That would get translated to calories per day. The main reason for exercising in my case is to improve and maintain my cardio vascular system. One measure of that could be a good level of blood pressure (whatever good is!).

I do believe that exercise is a key component to improving your overall health. In my case it is a significant mechanism for controlling my blood pressure. When I (aged 65) don’t exercise (like on holiday) my blood pressure goes up to typically 145/90. When I get back to a daily routine it comes down again to typically 120/80.

I used to exercise after breakfast. I have found a significant improvement by exercising before breakfast. This reduces my stress level whilst digesting my food.

Exercising can help maintain or develop the muscles, the lean body mass. This will raise my base metabolic rate which is a direct function of lean body mass.

We have an exercise bike in our house and that would have to do. The most important thing I felt was not to rush it. So I set myself an objective of getting to a vigorous 30 minutes exercise plus lots of walking. I didn’t want to rush it for two reasons. Firstly I couldn’t do it straight off. Secondly in 1999 I had prolapsed a disc in the back between L3 and L4. Thus it was important to do exercise which wouldn’t exacerbate the problems with the back. For eaxmple I have tried running on a treadmill, but the pounding made the back bad again.

 

What I have done so far is:

There daily programme on the cycle was as follows: Start off with 5 minutes on the exercise bike and a moderate level (level 5 on my bike). Every four days I increase it by a small amount. So for example increase to 6 minutes, then 7, then 8 minutes (after 12 days) at the same level. Then increase the level for 2 minutes to level 7 and the other 6 minutes at level 5.. Then increase it to 3 minutes at level 7 and so on…. Nice and gentle does it. It soon stacks up. So where have I got to so far. I am at 30 minutes (and plan to stay there for a while). My first minute is still at level 5 just to get the muscles warmed up. Then I do 3 minutes at level 7, one minute at level 8, then one minute at 9, then one minute at 10. After that I drop back to level 7 for 7 minutes, then one minute at level 11, drop back to level 7 for 7 minutes and then one minute at level 12, then level 7 for the rest.

 

In addition I have some fairly light (5kg) weights. Once again start off easy, with 10 lifts and then every fourth day increase by 2 further lifts. I am now at 50 lifts and plan to stay there for a while.

 

It is hard to establish the consequences of exercising in isolation from the fasting and diet changes. I have noticed that when I don’t exercise for a few days then the blood pressure goes up and comes back down again after I resume exercise. I can stride out more when I walk. I feel good about 10 minutes after exercising. I do sweat a lot now when exercising.

 

I haven’t been as methodical when I go for walks. The technique I have decided to try when walking is to always go for a 40 minute walk. I will walk out for 20 minutes however far that takes me turn around and walk back. I hope in doing that I will gradually walk further over time. At the start this is about 1 mile. I’ll update this from experience.

 

There is a suggestion that you should walk 10,000 steps per day. So far I have found no foundation to suggest that the 10,000 steps has any particular foundation in a calculation. I believe this is an aspirational statement which is made to encourage people who are sedentary to exercise. I have read debates about the quality of the steps made. For example are 5,000 brisk steps better than 10,000 moderate steps. I have tried several makes of pedometer, including a free one on my android phone. I haven’t found any of them particularly accurate, perhaps I am not prepared to pay enough money!

I am not a doctor, dietitian or nutritionist, I am an engineer. This is only my personal interpretation of what I have read and my experiences from what I have done. You should not take my experiences, nor what I write about as any form of recommendation. Always consult your medical advisors first. What I have done so far is not suitable for everyone, which is a good reason to check with your doctor first.