I think we’ve probably all read the experts’ advice about periodically changing our exercise routine for optimal results. Our bodies become very efficient with repeated exercise. I’ve never counted on exercise to help with my weight loss, but I have accepted the experts’ opinion that regular exercise is very important for weight loss maintenance. And for me it is an important part of “aging gracefully.”
Lately (well, really over the past year) I have changed my exercise routine significantly, but not for weight loss or weight loss maintenance. It was for a different reason. Yes…sigh. It probably has to do with aging.
Okay, even though I was sighing up there about the aging, I am actually very happy with the changes in my exercise routine. Remember, it was last November when I finally went to the doctor to see what was wrong with my knee (and my hips and my ankles…..) The doctor gave me permission to stop walking for exercise, and recommended biking–change number one. As long as there’s a good Food Network show on the telly, I’m good with the biking! I like to set the bike on manual and do intervals–usually 3 minutes on a lower resistance setting (8-10 on the bike I use) and then 1 minute on a higher setting (12-14.) I try to challenge myself to go faster, especially on the lower settings. So far, 16-17 MPH seems to be as fast as I can go consistently. I usually do 25 minutes. Lately, I’ve been starting out on the bike for 20 minutes, then go upstairs for my weights workout, and then back to the bike for 20 minutes. I REALLY like this, as long as I’ve got the time for it.
And then last November I went to physical therapy, and the therapist told me to completely stop doing all of the leg weights machines. He eventually had me start back up, but at much lower weights (like on the leg press I had been doing 180 pounds, and he backed me all the way down to 50 pounds!) I kept on doing my heavier upper body workouts on the machines.
And THEN I got that tendonitis in my elbow where I couldn’t even lift a glass! I checked Dr. Google, and he recommended rest. Okay. So I completely stopped all my arm workouts on the weights machines. And how ’bout that? Dr. Google was right. Eventually my elbow completely recovered. But now, using the example of how my PT had me working my legs, I started doing lower weights and higher reps. (For example, on the lat pulldown machine I stopped doing 100 pounds, and decreased it to 60 pounds.)
And after quite a while of sticking with this routine, I want to tell you that I am very happy with it. I used to really enjoy the challenge of lifting heavier and heavier. But then there were the in-between workout days where I felt like I was run over by a truck. And the occasional thought crept in “what’s the point of exercising when you feel like crap half your life?” Now I feel like I have worked out–slight muscle soreness–but I feel great all the time.
So doing these lower weights, higher reps takes more time. But for my overall health and sense of well-being, it really seems worth it. For specific examples, I do 4 sets of 25 reps at 65 pounds on the leg press machine. On the chest press machine, I do 3 sets of 20 reps at 40 pounds.
I feel like I am listening to my body and giving it what it needs. I highly recommend it!
(P.S. Noah says “she still walks every day. She likes walking better than I do. I have become one with the couch.”)