Friday, February 24, 2012

Every Other Day

When I was in physical therapy, Young PT gave me a list of exercises, complete with pictures, and asked if I was willing to do them every day.  He sounded bored, like he asks everybody this question and is ready for an argument.

“I will do more than you ask,” I said.

He freaked.  “That’s a problem.”

“Why?” I asked.  “I was working the elliptical next to a woman about my age. I had to get off at 12 minutes and she kept going for 20, which is the time limit at our gym.”

Then he told me a story that he discovered during his own rehab from a shoulder injury.  Exercises work better when you do them every other day. Take a day off. Go for a walk.

I thought about asking him why he had told me I should do these exercises every day, but it wasn’t worth the argument.  Did he usually compromise with people and act like they were getting away with a special favor if he agreed to every other day? 

It sounded odd, but I decided to give it a try. I skipped a day on the elliptical.  When I came back to it, I could do 15 minutes and I wasn’t tired. I got off because my replaced hip was feeling sore. That’s a 20% improvement just for taking one day off.

My insurance gives me $150 back after I complete 120 gym visits.  I didn’t want to miss out on that, so I started alternating, elliptical and treadmill. And I switched from doing a steady pace to doing intervals.  2 minutes warm up, 30 seconds maxed out, whatever it takes for my heart rate to return to normal (2 - 2.5 minutes usually) Repeat for 4 intervals on the elliptical.  For the treadmill, I put it on a slope of 15, warm up at 1.5 miles per hour for 2 minutes, then do 4.5 miles per hour for the intervals,  and go back to 2 mph for another 2 minutes. Repeat for 4 reps.  The heart rate monitor on the treadmill is insane, so I’m just guessing. 

I didn’t get any more dramatic improvements. But I didn’t lose ground, either.  Finally, I got my 120 visits and my $150 check.  So, this week, I started taking every other day off – not going to the gym at all – going for a walk by the river.

When I returned to the elliptical, I didn’t see any major difference. I got up to 270 steps per minute instead of 260, but that’s not huge.  On the treadmill, 4.5 mph started feeling easy. I put it up to 4.6 mph. I found I could recover at 2.5 mph, or even 3 mph.

Then I saw a woman who is at least 10 years older than I am running at 6 mph, 0 slope and I was jealous.  So, I decided to look up METS on a treadmill. lets you put in the slope and the speed and it calculates the METS (metabolic equivalents).  Hah!  My 4.5 mph is twice the METS of my running companion.  I’m not telling her. I’m still jealous that she can run and with my new hip, I can’t.  But, I am getting the exercise I need and I'm getting lovely walks where I see geese.


  1. I turned 50 a few months back and just took up running a couple of weeks ago. Me. The writerly, nerdy girl. And I'm kind of digging it. :O)

    1. Yay! Finding exercise that you enjoy is wonderful. I do recommend that you run an dirt rather than cement -- it's better for your knees.