Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Side effect of fitness: more fitness

I noticed something new a few days ago.  Suddenly, out of the blue, I was logging twice as many steps on my Fitbit.  (I am going to work on the assumption that this is due to a change in my workouts, and not a software glitch!). 

A few weeks ago, I was averaging around 5,000 steps per day.  I could usually get my 5,000 daily steps badge on weekdays, but I certainly wasn't stepping up a storm, even with my hourly trips to the washroom and to the kitchen to get more water.

I've recently noticed, however, that my step count has dramatically increased over the past week.  Instead of 5,000 steps a day, I am now averaging more than 10,000 steps per day - - a target I never thought I would achieve without incremental walks.

I think the source of this is my stepped-up (no pun intended!) stride rate on the elliptical machine.  I used to run between 100 strides per minute and 120 strides per minute, and a couple of weeks ago I tried to increase my stride rate to 120 - 130 strides per minute.  This morning I was able to keep my strides per minute above 130 for almost the entire 50 minutes that I was on the elliptical - - a huge improvement. 

Thinking back to a few months ago, I could not do 130 strides a minute and keep using the handles on the elliptical - - I would have to hold onto the sissy bar for anything over 100 strides per minute, for fear of falling off the machine. I also could not sustain anything over 120 strides a minute for more than a couple of minutes at a time.  Today I was able to sustain 130 strides per minute using the moving handles, and it felt if not comfortable, then perfectly sustainable. 

I love these little incremental changes that creep up on me.  The longer I work out and incorporate healthy things into my lifestyle, the more I realize that the path to fitness is not linear.  It takes twists and turns as my body adjusts to what I am doing, and becomes stronger and fitter.  It is almost like my body gets used to a certain level of activity or food intake, and then says "OK, then, let's see how you like being able to do this!". 

The simple fact is that I can do things now that not only could I not do before, I could not even imagine doing.  It's not a smooth road, but every now and then I notice a dramatic improvement.  Stephen Jay Gould had it right with evolutionary change being more expressed by "punctuated equilibrium" - - long periods of "same old, same old", and then WHAM! something dramatically new. 

For me, the WHAM was noticing that I have been able to increase my stride rate in a way that is making a noticeable impact on my Fitbit step counter.  My cardio and endurance has improved to the point where this is not only possible, it's the new baseline. 

Now that I am able to hit 10,000 steps in my day, I want to set up a regular pattern of hitting this target  - - can I do it every workout day?  I don't know, but I'm going to try.  Then what?  12,500 steps?  More weight training?  Longer boxing workouts?  I don't know what my body will be capable of with time, but I am really looking forward to finding out.

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