Thursday, August 1, 2013

Variety Is the Spice of Fitness

Photo by EarthOwned.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Verizon Boomer Voices program and have been provided with a wireless device and six months of service in exchange for my honest opinions about the product.

I get bored easily, so I task switch a lot. Maybe too much at times. I do this in several areas of my life ranging from house cleaning to researching to cooking.

I'm not a personal trainer, but WebMD and others focused on healthy living suggest changing your workout. Doing so challenges the body and the mind.

Doing the same workout all of the time can result in the body adapting too much, so the muscles, the mind and the heart are not getting such a vigorous work out.

Exercise physiologist Tracy Hafen at Huffington Post points out that

"Your body becomes very efficient at what it does often and routinely. That means you burn fewer calories than you used to with the same activity. Throwing your body a surprise curve ball will charge it up to burn more calories." 
On my way to 10,000 steps
I recently started using the Fitbit One as part of my workout routine. It's a pedometer plus.

* It measures steps taken, stairs climbed, distance covered, and calories burned.

* It also has a digital flower that grows to show my degree of activity.

* In addition, this device has a function that tracks my sleep efficiency.

My Fitbit One has helped me get another view on the various ways I pursue fitness.

I'm analyzing how many steps I'm taking around the house and while doing errands. I can also compare various forms of formal exercise.

Here are some quick observations:

Photo by Karen D. Austin
Spinning:  At first I was logging few steps during spin class. Then I discovered that I needed to move my device off my waist. Pedaling while seated didn't register, only when standing. But if I wear the device on the cuff of my shorts or on my sports bra, I rack up a lot of steps.

Arc Trainer: If I'm very unmotivated, this is my go-to cardio. This machine has fewer settings. I can reverse my gait or increase resistance.

Elliptical: The arc trainer and the elliptical register steps in very parallel ways. However, I can use different settings and speeds to work my heart more rigorously on the elliptical than on the arc trainer.

Treadmill:  I accrue more steps if I increase my rate of speed and when I take rapid steps at a moderate speed. I'm jogging at 4 mph lately.

If I'm spending a day writing, I try to take treadmill breaks either 20 minutes or 30 minutes at a time. I have yet to attempt working while walking, but others have. Maybe I'll try it sometime.

Boot Camp: We have anywhere from 4 to 8 people participate, so it's nice to get more attention from the trainer compared to a fitness class attended by 20-30 people.  I don't log a lot of steps during this weekly hour-long training. Nevertheless, I value this work out. Our group's trainer offers a lot of variety and helps correct our problems with form. I can apply this knowledge in other settings where I can be more effective while logging more steps.

Yoga: After several classes wearing my FitBit One, I decided to just take the device off. Yoga doesn't register very many steps compared to the exertion. Wearing it just gets in the way while I'm twisting like a pretzel. But even though it doesn't earn me steps, I keep this activity in my weekly routine. Yoga is great for mental health, for stretching, and for working a broad range of muscles, joints, and bones.
Karen & Bolt

Walking the Dog:  My FitBit One sees this activity as very parallel to the treadmill. However, both the dog and I enjoy getting outside where I can look at my neighbors' well-tended front yards. Despite being a midlife gym rat, I also enjoy exercising in a more natural setting.

Over the years, I have tried these forms of exercise plus jogging, aerobics, jazzercize, zumba, strength training and more. I'm interested to see what fitness craze will emerge in the upcoming decades and how this will help me find renewed vigor in my quest for fitness throughout my life span.

Outrunning Father Time and the Grim Reaper


  1. I am also loving my FitBit! I try to change things up a bit as well. They say it's better because the body does not see it as routine.

    1. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your Fitbit use. It's fun to talk with people who have this device. We can speak the same lingo. Badges! Synching! Flowers! 10,000 steps! It's invigorated my work out routines.

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  3. This sounds like a really cool tool. I admit I get into a semi-routine, although I do try to change up my cardio routines, from treadmill to elliptical to bike. But my free weight regime is always the same...

  4. Always a great idea to stay healthy and fit! As a caregiver serving the Sandown, New Hampshire area this is one thing that I always preach to my wonderful senior clients.