Monday, April 05, 2010


Part 2 – Exercise

Note: there won't be any metrics, because a) they're boring; b) I don't find them helpful. It's just a post about exercise and my take on it.

Exercise is an interesting thing for me. I've been doing it in some form for most of my life, and I tend to get obsessive about it. Back in my tae kwon do days, for example, if I didn't have a class and a sparring practice and either weights or elliptical, I would run 5 miles and count it as no exercise day. I KNOW.

Now that I'm twice as old, I still have to watch out for the obsessive tendencies, and I still tend to catastrophize missing a workout. Nowadays, I feel reasonably accomplished with 5 days at the gym routine; if I feel compelled to work out on the other two days (and I normally do), I just do an hour or so of medium intensity yoga (thank you, Exercise TV) and a ten-minute ab workout (usually pilates- or yoga-based).

On the gym days (all five), I do an hour of elliptical (8-10 resistance) – usually it's enough time for me to travel 6-6.2 miles. Two days, I do weights – low reps, one set. For each exercise, I use the weight low enough to get at least 8 reps but no more than 12. If I get 12 or more reps, I move on to the next weight. This workout regimen works well for me because it takes little time and gets good results in terms of strength increase. And one day, I work for one hour with a personal trainer.

With weights, I try to hit arms, chest, shoulders, upper and lower back, abs, obliques, hamstrings, calves, abductors/adductors. Mostly I use machines with occasional free weights; machines are good because they let me lift more weight without too much joint stress. With seated chest press, for example, I can do 150 lbs of resistance on the machine, but with free weights it would mess up my shoulders and elbows too much.

So that amounts to 1-2 hours of exercise time per day, and I'm a little conflicted on it. Sometimes it feels selfish, or I think there are other things I could be doing instead. Basically, this guilt kept me away from the gym during last years of grad school and pretty much all of my pre-tenure years – other things felt more important. But now, as I'm pushing forty, I'm figuring it's worth it. It's something I do enjoy a lot, and a day without exercise feels misspent, somehow. So I'm losing the guilt, now. I might even increase the yoga.

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