Cardio without running

Cardio without running
— Read on

I was searching WordPress for ideas related to “HeavyHands” but these days that pulls up everything from Boxing to domestic violence (I kid you not) .

This idea surfaced “cardio without running”… some interesting Videos, though not exactly “panaerobics”. Where do you look for ideas and inspiration?

Let me know in the comments …

So what if you’ve never exercised before, but now you want to (or you’re told you “have” to)? What do you do if you’ve had a layoff because of injury or illness and you want to build back. How do you manage this? How do you build aerobic capacity or regain it?

With all the emphasis on High Intensity Interval Training (which I enjoy and have written about here), one might get the idea that there’s no other way to begin to exercise than to dive in, work out till you throw up and, if you survive, repeat that. (Not to be indelicate but it’s often said that one knows they’re doing “Tabata intervals” correctly when they are on the verge of throwing up!).

Perhaps you’ve tried that. Perhaps you became so sore you couldn’t move for several days and were reluctant to try it again? Or you realized that you can’t do a “high intensity” workout more than once or twice per week. But your doctor wants you to exercise daily? Well you might be tempted to write the doctor off as “not being up with the latest exercise research” (who isn’t unless one is in the field full time?), but before you do that you might want to take another look a the situation. After all the people with the longest lifespans per the “Blue Zone” book are walking on average 5 to 7 miles per day or 10,000 to 14,000 steps or so in pedometer speak! So maybe more capacity, in general, is better than we’ve given it credit for!

If that’s your case, you’ll want to read Arthur Lydiard.

One of the guys at the Facebook Group “HeavyHands User Group” (a great group of thinking practitioners of exercise), shared this document: “Jogging the Lydiard Way” . (The document is hosted at the Lydiard Foundation.)

At first glance I wondered why I should read this… I don’t like “jogging”… and this writing is OLD… Lydiard wrote in the 70’s. With my share of intellectual snobbery (I confess) I was sure that something this old had surely been improved upon.

But passages like this caught my attention:

“…I recall in 1962, speaking to a group of men in Hawera, a small town in New Zealand, about jogging and I made this statement that I believed that anyone who can walk can run and if they really feel inclined, they could run 20 miles and this applied to old people even in their 70s.

After my talk, an old fellow by the name of Wills came to me and said that he was interested in running. However, he was 74 years of age and had had 3 coronary attacks. He was a big man of 280 pounds, obese and looked completely out of condition. He also asked if I believed that he could run 20 miles.

I was a little doubtful when I looked at him, but I told him go and see his doctor and explain just what he had in mind). I said that as long as he did not have a diseased heart and had recovered from his previous attacks, I doubted whether the doctor would be against him trying.

Well, Mr. Wills started jogging, with his doctor’s consent, and the first time that he tried to run for his 15 minutes, he only got as far as 30 yards and had to walk for a time before trotting along again. After a few weeks, he was able to run for the full 15 minutes and was, soon after this, running much longer time.

In 6 months from the day that he started jogging, Mr. Wills actually ran 20 miles without stopping. Besides him on push cycles rode members of the local newspapers – the hardest work they had done in years, just to see what would happen. Maybe they could see the headlines in the Daily: “Joggers Dies on Road”. However, Mr. Wills handled his 20 miles in fine style and, today, 8 years later, is a healthy and vigorous man of 82 years of age who, 3 years ago, rode a racing push cycle around a New Zealand mountain called Mr. Egmont, a distance of 100 miles on Christmas morning for a workout. On his arrival back, on being asked by the local press, what his reactions were to the ride; he remarked that it wasn’t any problem except the traffic worried him. Mr. Wills was a man who started from behind scratch by having had coronary attacks that he was fortunate enough to have survived…”

We hear a lot about excellent programs such as “Couch to 5K” because of their success in getting people to walk, jog, or run their first 5k adventure. This man – following Lydiard’s advice – went from “couch to 20 miles” in six months! At age 74!

How did he do it?

While you will want to read Lydiard’s book for yourself (it’s only 50 pages), he basically taught something we’ve forgotten… to “train not strain” and “have something left over” after the workout.

Like the person who shared the document, I’d say this logic applies to jogging, bicycling, heavy hand walking, kettlebell swinging… almost any physical endeavor one wishes to build aerobic capacity for.

Here are my takeways… feel free to add your own in the comments:

1. Forget prescriptions in books or even by experts about what you “should” be able to do. You must start where you are and build from there.

2. Start with 15 minutes daily preferably. Don’t do anything “Till you drop”. Ease off enough of your activity to complete your time.

3. Resist the temptations to compete or “go faster” until you have invested plenty of time in “going slow”… keep going easy but go longer instead of faster at first. Later in the book, Lydiard has some tables to help people progress from 15 minutes of jogging per day to jogging up to an hour at a time. But he never says “in 15 minutes you should cover ____ miles”. Go whatever speed allows you to complete the time whether jogging or heavy handing. If trying to do kettlebell swings for time, use the weight that lets you finish the time. If rowing, go for the time too.

Lydiard’s theories are adaptable for any capacity building exercise approach.

Personally I have two temptations to fight regularly… to overexert myself or to do nothing at all. Yielding to the temptation to over exert one day often leads to the temptation to do nothing the next (or for subsequent) days. Just today I woke up with some crazy plan to over exert myself instead of trying to gradually improve what I’d done yesterday… thankfully by the time I started to work out I was “cured” of that notion!

I’d heard this term in another context but it seems to apply here… “go slow to go fast”. In this arena of physical capacity building it means to not over extend yourself… to build gradually and incrementally. One does not even need to always work out the same amount of time daily.

For example, After one builds up to an average of 30 minutes, some days will be hour long workouts, and the next a mere 15 minutes to “keep moving”. But overall one’s aim is to gradually progress while not being forced to stop by going at too high an intensity. Over time (and probably less time than you may think) gradual improvements produce amazing results … like the man who went from “couch to 20 miles” in 6 months (and then a 100 mile bike course)! He does caution though to not work out less than every other day if one wishes to progress. Personally I’m aiming for 5 days using his concepts (though I’m not a jogger!)

So when you’ve downloaded the book, read it for yourself and leave your takeaways in the comments.

spine, spinal decompression, lower back painPlease note: I’m not a physician or health care professional. I don’t pretend to offer advice and you shouldn’t take this as any form of health advice. I’m simply recounting my own experience here, and my situation may not be like YOUR situation at all. As a result you need to connect with your own chosen health care professionals, look at all the facts and then make an informed decision for your situation based on their recommendations. Fair enough? If so, keep reading because as we all know, misery loves company.  And perhaps my story will encourage you.

Like my 88 year old mother continually says “Getting old ain’t for sissies!”

I haven’t posted for a while because I’ve been plagued with a few signs of getting older myself. Call it a quirk of mine, but I hated to keep writing things when I couldn’t seem to get solid workout in myself!

Some of you have been kind enough to email me to wonder if I were still kicking, and that’s been much appreciated.

Anyway I’m back at it, and here are some lessons I learned that I wanted to pass along.

First I didn’t seem to be able to get a good workout because of my HIP.

I had to jump a number of hoops (metaphorically) to conclude my hip wasn’t the problem. But before I concluded that I went through a series of physical therapy sessions, xrays, standard chiropractic adjustments, massage specialized exercises, and even some stretches, only to end up in the Emergency Room one night.

Sometimes after the above treatments the pain might subside for a bit. Other times (like the time I rolled off one of those exercise balls) it got worse. Finally one  night I went to the ER because it had all came to a head.  Every pothole caused huge muscle spasms across my side.  At the ER they did xrays but had nothing to tell me from them. The pain pill helped stop the flare up, but home I went with the advice to “see a doctor” (wasn’t that what I was trying to do?)

Obviously whatever I’d done wasn’t working.

I got over my fear of orthopedic surgeons long enough to be given a shot in my hip that helped temporarily but as I was starting to workout, the symptoms started coming back.

But then he said if one shot didn’t help, I’d need a hip replacement.

Hip replacement?

That just didn’t sound right.

I went to another chiropractic office to inquire about a special laser therapy I’d heard about to relieve pain and they asked me to bring the x-rays from the hospital.

I picked them up and looked at them for the first time in their office.

What we DID see and DIDN’T see surprised me…

First off we DIDN’T see any hip deterioration.

What we DID see was a curve in my spine that might of partly been because of the agonizing spasms that night when it was taken. The Orthopedist had never mentioned my spine curvature at all!


I ended up going through a series of professional spinal decompression treatments that made all the difference in the world! In my case, the hip pain is gone. I notice that at times pain does reemerge… in my lower back. The original site of the pain (right hip) and from time to time completely on the other side!

My immediate go to remedy is of course to have another spinal decompression treatment as needed for follow up, but between treatments I focus these days on forward stretching and NOT hyper extending my back.

forwardstretching,lower back stretches for lower back pain

Many times just bending forward to stretch my hamstrings works. At other times I’ve tested home based spinal decompression devices like the Lo-bak Trax
, though I’m willing to investigate other ones. (Note: Those links are both Amazon affiliate links. If you end up purchasing through one of them it supports this blog’s hosting and other expenses as I try to upgrade our presence here.)

Here’s what I’ve found about spinal decompression and low back pain issues.

I’ve noticed that in my case the spinal decompression REALLY WORKED well… over time.

I’d noticed how my back would seize up easily if I stubbed my toe or something so I began to see how tightly wound my whole lower back area was and how inflexible I’d become.

The traction used by the spinal decompression table really stretched out these back muscles, making them not so “tightly wound”.

This is where one side effect came in… my back muscles were so loose, I was starting to bend forward and my wife commented how back my posture was becoming! Before that I’d have resorted to some zealous kettlebell swings to fix that right up, but I was afraid of hyperextending my back again and didn’t want to get back to undoing all my treatment.

So I’ve gradually had to work on my posture. My body lets me know when I’ve not only stood straight but hyperextended my back again!

If you’re in this or a similar pain situation please see professionals you trust to sort things out. Relief was quick for me but not complete after just a few sessions. Then some long international travel and strange hotel beds seemed to undo most of the benefit, though follow up treatment really helped get things back in order!

My plan:

1) Keep forward stretching… keep unlocking my lower back and hamstrings especially. As needed I use an inexpensive pain relief device (Amazon affiliate link).

2) Keep strengthening the muscles… my whole body of course, but especially restoring some healthy tone to my back muscles. I’ve found myself flipping back to Dr. Schwartz’ discussion of “Backaerobics” on pp. 109 ff of his book “HeavyHands: the Ultimate Exercise System” (Amazon link)…He suggested a variety of moves which – with caution – are reminders of the type of work I need to focus a bit on. Fortunately anyone doing Heavy Hands, Kettlebells, or Clubbells, probably is to some extent… Common exercises like “grave diggers”, kettlebell or clubbell swings, etc. all address the areas of crucial concern… I just have to do them without hyper extending. For the time being, no “neck bridges” or other backward bending moves are prescribed for me.

So thankfully I’m back in gear and ramping back up.

Thanks for staying in touch. We’ll see what sparks another article soon!

I haven’t posted in a long while so I thought I’d say “hello” after a hiatus with this snippet from Science Daily that notes how just one moderate exercise session can reduce bodily inflammation – the newly found bugaboo behind so many disease conditions. 

Call me biased but because we’re pretty sure panaerobic exercise is never going to be tested in such studies, I’ll wager panaeeibics hold their own and excel in this regard by activating the largest amount of muscle tissue (muscle tissue loss with aging is one of the chief culprits suspected in the average person increased systemic inflammation as they age).

Glad to visit with all of you again!

One moderate exercise session has a cellular response that may help suppress inflammation in the bodyIt’s well known that regular physical activity has health benefits, including weight control, strengthening the heart, bones and muscles and reducing the risk of certain diseases. Recently, researchers at University of California San Diego School of Medicine found how just one session of moderate exercise can also act as an anti-inflammatory. The findings have encouraging implications for chronic diseases like arthritis, fibromyalgia and for more pervasive conditions, such as obesity.

NYT: Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work.

Posted: December 28, 2016 in General

Here’s an article you’ll immediately appreciate if you have a FITBIT BLAZE. or other product that alerts you to the hourly need for exercise.

The New York Times article Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work. discusses how people felt and performed during an average work day if they took either a 30 minute walk or short 5 minute hourly breaks.

The short breaks were more potent for staying refreshed an alert during the work day. (Obviously this is not a replacement for other lengthier exercise in the day!)

FitBit builds hourly activity goals into its devices for the reasons stated here:

Research shows that prolonged sitting is associated with a significantly higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression, as well as muscle and joint problems. Even if you meet typical exercise guidelines, sitting for long periods of time can still compromise your health. Fortunately, moving even a few minutes every hour reduces the negative effects of sitting.

(You can see the research links at the FitBit page by the way.

So in addition to being more productive for your work, you can have a better quality of life for yourself as well.

One thing I like about it is that if you have a daily step goal, by chipping away at it hourly, you don’t end up having to walk 10,000 steps at 9 PM. We both know that is probably NOT going to happen (though I do crank out remaining steps at that hour!).

If you’re more ambitious you can try this… think of this as FitBit helping you to “Grease the Groove” in something you want ot accomplish. Use the hourly reminders to walk 250 steps as a reminder to do a set of calisthenics too.. squats or pushups for example. Or use it as a reminder to climb a flight of stairs and check off another activity towards your daily goals.

You can also use it as a reminder to do other – non physical things – like pray. Or meditate. Or practice deep breathing. Make it work for you, but get your steps in every hour. I try to get 14 hours a day of this activity! How many hours are you trying to stay active each day?

Here’s the FITBIT BLAZE.. My goal is to start blogging about how I’m using the Blaze to achieve my fitness goals and also expose problems I’m having with the device as well as my work arounds.

I’m recovering from some illness and got deconditioned.  They say “the legs are the first things to go” as we age, and that’s something I very strongly believe.  I’m planning a mission trip early next year and we expect to do LOTS of walking.

Knowing my foibles pretty well, I decided that if I planned to do all my walking in big chunks of 30 to 60 minutes per day (my doctor wants me to do 60 minutes walking daily) that I would likely FAIL.

You know how your schedule can get really busy and it’s easy to “skip” an hour long workout.

Recently sports physiologists have said that 10 minutes 3 times per day has the same effect as 30 minutes straight. Leonard Schwartz of HeavyHands fame said that in their testing at the University of Pittsburgh cardio improving responses could start coming  in as few as 3 minutes.

(If you want some ideas for 3 Minute Workouts, check this page.)

These sources planted a seed in my mind that grew like Jack’s beanstalk the minute I heard my friend describe his new Blaze.

He said “It reminds me every hour to do at least 250 steps”.

That’s when I started thinking… “Work out a little bit every hour? Yes, that sounds like what I need to do.”

Of course 250 steps hourly won’t “cut it” for my training. I know that I need some much longer blocks of working out daily, but establishing a pattern of activity and daily working out is exactly what I needed to accomplish.

As I started reading about how Pritikin’s patients were reversing heart and artery disease I realized all of them – in addition to dieting – were doing huge amounts of walking.  That “sealed the deal” for me… I needed to start doing lots more to get my activity in… “mini workouts” along with longer workouts.

Consider it a cardio form of “Greasing the Groove”. “Greasing the Groove” or GTG is doing one exercise a lot to become GREAT at it. I figured that’s what had to happen to my walking… though from the outset, I planned to do more than JUST walking.

That’s where my knowledge of HeavyHands and Isotonometrics and Pan-X come in.  But my FitBit Blaze is proving a big help in its own right.

Just for starters, here is how the Blaze (and it’s app and/or online dashboard) is getting me ready:

First, it’s helping me track my heart rate… for me knowing I’m in an exercise zone is important when I’m doing heavy hands. But also making sure my heartbeat is returning to it’s resting rate in a timely manner is equally important.  The Blaze (while not perfect) is a solid tool to help that.

Second, it’s making sure I do a minimum of exercise 14 hours a day. I chose the hours … others choose fewer hours in the day. It keeps me from vegging out in a chair typing… like now! 🙂

Third, it’s helping me take the stairs and go up inclines. The Blaze makes sure I’m going up flights of stairs daily by tracking the number. Sometimes it’s wacky. I don’t have a single stair in my house but it showed I went up 10 feet while walking around the house this morning. I knew to make up for that over counting later in the day. I like the “badge” I get for hitting 10 “hills” per day. It helps round out my leg development… as do knee bends which the Blaze doesn’t really track except perhaps as steps. Let me tell you, full squats are a challenging way to get steps!  Instead, supplement steps and climbing with them!

Fourth, it’s tracking overall steps. The “badges” for completing steps are motivating as are the “fireworks” on the watch when hitting your daily goal. By some measures “10,000 steps” is good. Others say that’s rather arbitrary. I know if you’re just doing a couple thousand steps per day, moving to 10,000 is a significant and worthwhile challenge. Staying active every hour, the 10,000 figure wasn’t that hard to reach.

Mileage too is tracked so that’s a fifth way the device helps. I was surprised to know I was going over 10,000 steps but not making 5 miles yet.

Sixth, tracking “active minutes”. After 1o minutes of exercise the Blaze automatically records your “active minutes” – that’s the figure I’ll be using to determine if I’m doing my 60 minutes per day. Depending on the “expert” you’re following, you need 30 to 90 “active” minutes daily with your heart rate elevated (the higher the elevation the less time required in general) for optimum health.  Which number is right? I have no idea. As I mentioned before my doctor wants me doing 60 so I’m working towards that figure.

Here’s what the American Institute for Cancer Research defines proper activity levels in their recommendations for preventing cancer:

As well as helping us avoid weight gain, activity itself can help to prevent cancer. Studies show that regular activity can help to keep hormone levels healthy, which is important because having high levels of some hormones can increase your cancer risk.

Physical activity may also strengthen our immune system, help keep our digestive system healthy and allow us to consume more food and more cancer-protective nutrients – without gaining weight.

If you’re not used to doing much activity, start by working toward 30 minutes of moderate activity each day – remember that anything is better than nothing. You can build up slowly until you reach your target. Shorter bouts of activity are just as beneficial. (It’s the total time that’s important.)

Research shows that to avoid weight gain, doing more activity is beneficial. High amounts of sitting – sedentary behaviors – also links to overweight and obesity. Moving more throughout the day and limiting sedentary behaviors may help with weight control.

For maximum health benefits, scientists recommend that we aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate activity every day, or 30 minutes or more of vigorous activity.

  • Moderate activity is anything that gets your heart beating a bit faster and makes you breathe more deeply – like brisk walking.
  • Vigorous activity means raising your heart rate so that you warm up, start to sweat and feel out of breath.

If I’m at work, I’ll just walk or climb stairs probably without arm motions… or sometimes march in place with my hands swinging high.

If I’m “working out” at home I’m using HeavyHands, Indian Clubs, Kettlebells, or IsoTonoMetrics. If I’m outside depending on the available equipment I may be using HeavyHands, Nordic Walking Sticks, IsoTonoMetrics, or nothing. Or I’ll “walk and squat” with all the mentioned tools, depending on how I feel.

Anyway this is how I’m using the FitBit Blaze to try to maximize the number of workouts through the day and strengthen my whole body… cardiovascular system and muscular system as well. And most of all to make sure “the legs don’t go first”.

If you have more questions about the Blaze or integrating it into your workouts, ask questions in the comments and I’ll respond there or respond in another post.

Thanks for reading!

PS- you’ll find it very addictive in a positive way to hit all your goals every day and exercise all the hours you’ve chosen! Here’s what that looks like on the FitBit phone app!

I’ve never trained with a sledgehammer but this seems like the perfect complement to a kettlebell swing or snatch!

Alternating them would be a challenging but awesome workout!

Panaerobic too!