Daily exercise or what works best

Claire's mention of exercise sparked these free-form thoughts.

The best exercise is the one you are willing to do every day.

It's both irritating and discouraging (to me at least) to hear these pronouncements about how I *must* do this exercise in this manner for so many minutes and I don't. What I've learned is the best exercise for anyone, especially someone just starting to improve their fitness, is what you're willing to do.

If all you're willing to do is walk around the block, start there.
Fitbits and other pedometer-type devices are not accurate per se. What they do is remind you to get moving. If you're walking a thousand steps a day that's not an exact measurement of steps but it is an exact measurement of the fact that you're almost completely sedentary. The Fitbit encourages you to double your steps from one thousand per day to two thousand per day. Supposedly, the national average of steps walked every day is about four thousand. Shoot for five thousand a day.

An important point I'd like to make before I go further with our exercise program. I did not learn this from any gym teacher at any level of school. Or from any textbook on physical fitness. Or in the Navy. I learned this from the physical therapist *after* I damaged a disk in my spine. I've had two steroid shots into that disk and will never be able to do certain movements ever again. My back won't let me.

Here it is: Every time you bend forward (as in bending over or doing sit-ups) BEND BACKWARDS. What you're doing, according to the physical therapist, is allowing your disks to, to, to put themselves back where they should be. They're not escaping the confines of the bones and then being compressed between the bones. I can't recall her exact discussion but I know that when my spine hurts, it's because I've been bending forwards too much and not back enough, allowing the disks to resettle themselves.

As for exercise, Bill and I still use the Wii Fit Plus on our antique Wii gaming platform. We do yoga and strength almost every day. When we don't use the Wii, we walk to the Friendly's and back and pick up trash. I've changed exercise routines a lot over the years, depending on how much time I have, my age, my injuries, and so forth.

Our Wii just turned itself into a brick, so we dug out the Royal Canadian Air Force exercise plan. I've done this in the past and it, like every other exercise program works if you're willing to put in the time. It has the huge advantages of not taking huge amounts of time, it's whole-body, and you don't need any equipment at all. There are loads of pdf downloads of the program online. Start at the very beginning and work your way up.

All exercise programs should include these components: aerobic and cardiovascular. Strength. Flexibility.
Running, walking, biking, swimming, salsa dancing and so forth work your cardiovascular fitness.
Weightlifting provides strength. Free weights as opposed to Nautilus machines improve your balance as well as your muscles.
Tai Chi and yoga improve flexibility and balance.
Calisthenics tend to improve all three areas at the same time, especially if you wear ankle and wrist weights when you're exercising, which I do.

So what exercises do you do? Inquiring minds want to know!

A systematic yet simple exercise program? Nice -- thank you for the tip!

If anyone gets tired of restarting timers for each phase, here are links to animated GIFs to take care of it:



We've been doing the Royal Canadian 5BX/XBX for a week or so now and it really works.

It combines calisthenics with intensity because of the time limitations. Trying to get all those exercises done in the time limit can be a challenge at the higher levels.

The women's program has many more exercises than the men's and they are not the same at all. They seem more aimed at flexibility and toning. I still work up a sweat, pushing myself to complete the given number of reps in the time alloted.

Teresa, thanks for mentioning this over on JMG's other blog a while back. I've been doing XBX for a month now and I've actually been DOING it for a month! Nothing else has stuck quite so well as this one. I'd been looking for something so basic yet scalable (up) as I got stronger, but everything I'd seen previously was simply basic and only basic, or already kind of intimidating.

I don't bother to time myself on any but the first and last days of any given level - and so far, since the level I'm at doesn't take the full allotment of time, in the last few days of it, I do more than required so that when I bump up a level, it's not so difficult. On the last day, I do it as written and time myself and compare starting-day time against last-day time and am always pleased to see that I am capable of doing it faster a week later.

I'm glad it's working for you. Royal Canadian is a great program and you don't need a thing other than your own sweet self, some space, and a paper printout.

And, if you keep at it, you can work up to Olympian levels.

Just remember to bend backwards regularly after doing anything that bends you forward (toe touches and sit-ups). Not bending backwards after sit-ups is how I injured my spine. A disk partially slipped out between the bones.

I learned to bend backwards from the physical therapist who treated me; not from any other source of information about physical fitness. She was adamant that if you bend regularly in one direction, you MUST bend in the opposite direction to, to, let everything relax back into their proper places.

It works too. My spine will never fully recover but almost ten years later, plenty of backbends, and two steroid shots, and I can do most things. When my back hurts, I bend backwards and it eases up.

good advice!
The program does that a little, but in general, that's a smart thing to keep in mind.

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A friend had a spare DVD copy of the "30 day qi gong challenge", with Lee Holden. Each segment is just 7 minutes, so OF COURSE we can do that! I roll my eyes at some of the voice over: "feel the qi flowing through the meridians...", but we're still going through the motions. It's very mild.

I also have been using the Nordic Track machine several times a week. A 30-minute session takes about 10 minutes to get warmed up, ten more minutes to start the flow of perspiration (in a 65F room), and ten minutes of "almost done, almost done... you'll be so proud when you finish strong, almost done...". I don't believe that the resistance settings are taken into account by the little computer that tracks time, speed, and distance, but I try to maintain a 4-5 MPH pace.

Weather permitting, we also stroll about the hills of our neighborhood almost every day.

Of course, there may be dirt to move in the garden, or other physical chores, too.