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.