Song of the Open Road

Afoot and light-hearted I take to the open road,
Healthy, free, the world before me,
The long brown path before me leading wherever I choose. — Walt Whitman

Grab your shoes, we’re going for a walk. This is not going to be a casual stroll, we’re walking for our health.

I never was much for running, and tend to avoid it if at all possible. When I run, it is not very long at all before my heart and lungs start protesting. It’s almost funny to imagine my heart sitting there in the middle of my chest, pumping away and thinking “Now just hold on! You know I don’t like… stop that right now!” Whenever I run, it isn’t long before I’m standing with my hands on my knees with my breathing sounding like a worn calliope. So running is not for me, but walking is.

Your Cardiologist will tell you that exercise is good for you, as long as you don’t overdo it. By definition, a defective heart has weaknesses. Given the fact that your heart will weaken even more as you age, it only stands to reason that strengthening it as much as possible would be a good idea. Some people swim, others run. I walk.

You have to start small and, for a while at least, think small. Don’t try to do everything on the first day. When my Cardiologist told me that walking would be good for me, he told me to start with a fifteen minute walk around my driveway. I lasted seven.

Walking can allow you to clear your mind and work out your problems, but since nothing is really bothering me, I grab my radio. I also get my watch and my pedometer. I measure my walking in steps, not miles (You’ll understand why in a moment) so I make sure the step counter is reads 0, set the timer on my watch to 40 minutes, and off we go.

The trick, of course, is to make your heart work harder than it is used to working. I walk pretty often, so my heart is fairly resilient. But I’ve figured out a good way to get a workout without overworking — and perhaps damaging — my body. I began by setting the timer on my watch to 15 minutes and walking until the time ran out. I did that for about a week, until walking 15 minutes didn’t bother me at all. Then I increased the time by 5 minutes. When you’re used to that, add five more minutes.

I had been up to 65 minutes, but then my hernia flared up, which curtailed my walking. (The hernia is better right now, thankfully) Life in general got in my way on a couple of days, so it has been about a week since I walked. Just to be safe I went back down to 40 minutes today. After i finished, I did a little math: Steps taken divided by minutes walked equals Steps Per Minute. The higher my steps per minute, the better I think I am doing. The Steps Per Minute is pretty high and I don’t feel too tired at all, so I’ll go up to 45 minutes tomorrow.

CHDer or heart-healthy, exercise is good for you. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. So talk to your doctor — I’m not a doctor, so I can’t (and won’t) give you advice — about an exercise program and get moving.

I’ll see you on the Open Road.

NOTE: Sorry for the late post, a thunderstorm knocked out my electricity for a while last night.

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One Response to “Song of the Open Road”

  1. Alex Says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

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