The goalposts have moved

There was a time when I actually got the recommended 150 minutes of exercise weekly. I rode my exercise bike 24 minutes on weekday mornings, and Saturday mornings I walked 90 minutes while delivering newspapers. The newspaper job went away when I moved away, and the exercise habit went away when I had an hour commute and simply couldn’t get myself out of bed early enough to exercise first.

Yesterday morning the batteries on my Schwinn Airdyne died (which doesn’t affect the bike’s operation, only the display showing minutes and miles), so I don’t know how long I rode yesterday or this morning. But I know it’s far short of 24 minutes – perhaps half that much. If I keep up the biking daily (or at least weekdays), I hope to get back up to 20 minutes before long. Thirty minutes would be a stretch – not so much on my stamina as on my ability to stop hitting the snooze button and get up earlier.

But apparently even 30 minutes isn’t enough anymore, at least not unless I’m OK with slowly gaining weight – which I’m not. The currently recommended 150 minutes a week is to prevent disease and enjoy other health benefits. Any amount of exercise is better than none, so if I reach 150 minutes a week I’ll be healthier than I am now. But 150 minutes isn’t enough to prevent weight gain in middle-aged women, according to a new study.

An article in tomorrow’s Wall Street Journal summarizes the study’s findings, which support the Institute of Medicine’s 2002 suggestion that 420 minutes of exercise weekly were needed to prevent weight gain. And since my body-mass index is over 25, even 60 minutes a day probably isn’t sufficient to maintain my current weight (let alone lose some weight I gained over the fall and winter).

The article does indicate the 30 minutes of intense exercise would be sufficient, and it gives cycling as an example of such intense exercise. But I’m fairly certain that my speed on the Airdyne would only be classified as moderate. In the summer I’m sweating by the time I’m done – but in the summer in the humid Mississippi River valley it doesn’t take much to start sweating. At 6:30 in the morning my body doesn’t even want to be out of bed, let alone cycle fast enough to qualify as intense exercise.

What I need is more walking – and preferably a walking partner, of the two-legged, not-interested-in-sniffing-every-mailbox-and-hydrant variety.

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5 Responses to The goalposts have moved

  1. mommy says:

    Pauline,
    I’ve been cycling for exercise, too, and find that the only way I can do it is to watch something on TV while “riding.” I’m currently working my way through my son’s set of “The Office” DVDs. Between the episode and the “cut scenes” I’m able to get in about 35 minutes without constantly watching the clock and hating it. Just a thought.

  2. Pauline says:

    Mommy,
    I don’t watch TV while riding, partly because there’s not much I want to watch, and because I’d have to either turn up the sound pretty loud or find a set of headphones with a long enough cable to reach the TV. The Airdyne is a wonderful piece of equipment, worth every penny I spent on it sixteen years ago – but as it operates by the air pressure created by pedaling, the faster I go the louder it gets.

    I do listen to books on tape. I have a Sony Walkman and I can just clip it on my waist and use headphones. Right now I’m in the middle of a novel by David Baldacci, and it’s doing a good job of keeping me riding (even though the darn display won’t work even with new batteries!)

    My problem is I can’t afford to keep buying audiobooks, so I get them from the library. Once I get up to 30 minutes a day I’ll be able to get through most books in 6 weeks (by renewing once) if not in the standard three weeks. But right now it’s hard to find a book short enough to finish. I used to listen to them in my car also to be able to finish the book, but now my car only plays CDs, and my portable CD player isn’t made to be worn like my Walkman is. I needs to start taking some long walks as well, now that the weather is warming up.

  3. mommy says:

    Pauline,
    Are you familiar with http://www.gutenberg.org/wiki/Main_Page
    There are a lot of books there for free. Many are classics that you may have already read, but there may be some you can use.
    (p.s. I’m not much of a TV watcher, either, but that seems to actually help because it’s a novelty for me; I’m not sure what I’ll watch when I run out of “Office” episodes)

    • Pauline says:

      I knew there were lots of books available for free, but I hadn’t realized it included audio books. Thanks for the tip.

      I’m not sure how I would be able to use them while exercising, though. There’s no room for the bike in our “computer room,” and burning one to a CD would still mean finding a way to connect my headphones to a CD player that’s on a shelf instead of on my waistband.

  4. mommy says:

    I hear ya, girl. I don’t know about you, but I hate exercising and look for every excuse to skip it. The other night, I couldn’t get the CD player to work and thought it was a sign that I didn’t need to ride. Unfortunately, hubby came up behind me and got it going. HaHa

    I’d like to send you something. Would you trust me enough to e-mail me your address?
    lshaffer@gpworldwide.com

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