I was scheduled to swim with my masters team this morning but when I woke up I had two thoughts: The first was -- "It's a beautiful, cool day. Maybe I should go for a run instead." And the second was --- "I've already done five swim workouts this week and put in north of 12,000 yards in the pool. Maybe a run on the trail would be good cross training."
Of course, I always worry about overdoing things so before I laced up my Asics and left the house I grabbed my pulse oximeter and checked my pulse rate and my oxygen uptake. My resting pulse rate was right where it should be at 55 and my oxygen reading was steady at 98. And no, I'm not on supplemental oxygen.
Just for good measure I also grabbed by my blood pressure measuring device and put it on my wrist for a quick reading. I was happy enough with 118 over 65. Again, unassisted by meds.
I headed down to Lady Bird Lake to hit the hike-and-bike trails and was thinking about just knocking out the 3 mile loop. I've been running off and on through the Summer and I'm more or less acclimated to run in temperatures up to about 96 degrees (f) but today, at the start of my run the temperature was still in the lower 60's. (Yes, I run slower when it gets hotter).
I started slow and stiff but quickly worked out the stiffness and found a rhythm and by the time I got to the turn-off for the three mile loop I was feeling so good I just decided to pop for the five mile route instead. I'm here to tell you that five miles with low temperatures and low humidity beats the crap out of three miles with high heat and elevated humidity. It wasn't my fastest run by a long shot but the face mask adds a bit of resistance so I'm using that as an excuse for my slower time. It took me a bit less than an hour to finish my run today. Slow by daily runner standards but not bad for someone who spends too much time in the pool and not nearly enough time with shoes on.
I noticed several things which may, anecdotally, provide evidence for exercise being a prime determinant of health and longevity. First, there were more women running the trails this morning than men, a ratio of about 3:2. The women ran smoother and a bit faster, on average. Coincidence that women outlive American men by about seven years? Maybe they are just more disciplined about getting exercise...
Second, the larger the person (BMI = body mass index) the more leisurely (slowly) they walked. The thinner the person on the trail generally the faster they were traveling. This makes me think that people aren't necessarily overweight just because of what or how much they eat but maybe even more importantly by the deficit of overall movement and pace in each aspect of their daily existence, as evidence by their casual approach to even walking. A brisk walker might cover a mile in 12-15 minutes but based on my observation the people with the higher BMIs were walking at a leisurely pace that I judged would get them a mile every thirty+ minutes.
Scientists are finding that people really do need to be up and moving for at least (AT THE LEAST) an hour a day. More is better. A good measure for me is the wear and tear of my running shoes. If' I don't have to replace them at least every six months I know I've gotten lazy.
My intention is not to be preachy. If you don't want to exercise more that's up to you. But walking briskly is....free. It doesn't cost anything. And if you can feel better and live longer it seems like a good bargain.
I try not to judge anyone who is already out on the trail and moving at any speed. They're way ahead of all those folks still sitting at home on the couch, or the Lazy-Boy recliner, getting ready to spend an afternoon of staying very, very still and watching stuff on TV.
Tell me again why we have the highest cost for healthcare in the entire world? And with really poor outcomes compared to almost every other civilized country? It's not just the Big Macs and the sodas...