Incremental Exercise – good or bad?

This post is about an experiment of mine. I consider it successful, but I wouldn’t mind hearing your opinion of it. I don’t know how many of you live in a high rise building, but I do and my experiment has everything to do with just that.

I live in a high rise building and own a dog. I have to walk my dog three times a day out doors. In my building dogs have to ride on the ‘service elevators’ rather than the regular ones. My building has more than 50 stories and there are two service elevators. Often one of them is ‘locked off’ for movers, or other maintenance needs. So, it is not surprising that I often find myself waiting several minutes for an elevator to take the dog for her walk. The area in which I wait for the service elevator is about 16 feet long and eight feet wide.

sky building architecture cloud

This is not my building, but you get the idea. Photo by Pixabay on

That’s the logistical part.

I have written previously about my Apple Watch. It records my distances, calorie burn etc., for dog walks, bike rides and other exercises. I clock all my dog walks to keep track of my daily exercise and calorie burn as well as distance covered on foot.

I decided a while back that instead of just standing around waiting and feeling annoyed, I could make use of the time positively by pacing the length of the service area. While the wait averages several minutes, sometimes it ranges to more than five. I walk the dog three times a day, so I ride the elevator six times a day (three up and three down for the  math-challenged). It’s like reverse gravity. What goes down must come back up. In addition, I ride the service elevator to go down to the bikeroom when I ride. Most days I ride two times, so that makes an additional four elevator rides. Since I shop online a lot, I am an Amazon Prime customer, I often have to take the service elevator down to the receiving room to pick up packages. As a result of all this it is not uncommon for me to ride the service elevator 10 times or more in a single day.

Over the course of a week I have calculated that on average I walk just under a mile (5280 feet) while pacing waiting for the elevator. By a process of rapid calculation, this comes to a total of just over 50 miles a year. I confess that I was surprised at this total. It seems that there should be some physical benefit to walking 50 miles even if it took you a year to do it.

Also, and this was a complete surprise, I now find that when I need to ride the service elevator and I am going to have to wait, I no longer feel annoyed. I am kind of excited that I can ‘get some pacing in.’ I am able to extend the dog walk before we ever leave the building. No, she doesn’t pace with me. She just watches me go back and forth in the confined area. This may be the biggest – and totally unexpected – benefit of the practice. I know that a lot of my fellow residents complain bitterly about service elevator waiting time.

As I said, I based this on my ability to clock the walk with my Apple watch. I am sure that you can do the same with a Fit bit, or other wearable.

That’s my story. What do you think?

Addition 26 March 2019. A recent study in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that the benefits of walking on longevity were equivalent whether people got their steps in one long walk, a few shorter ones, or even brief walk breaks of a few minutes—as long as the physical activity was regular. Yay!



Filed under Exercise, exercise benefits, walking

9 responses to “Incremental Exercise – good or bad?

  1. Tony, I have been educated by you on the benefits of walking. So on today’s Medium post, I have 2 links to your site about the benefits of walking. Just thought you might like to read my, “True Confessions of A Daily Walker” since your articles are linked in it. Also would like to know what you think of the information I shared. here is my link.
    I appreciate your articles. Richard

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your kind words, Richard. Thanks also for linking back! I took a look – fine! BTW, that seems a complicated place to blog. Hard to like or comment.


  2. Suzanne

    I know I’d be doing something similar to utilise waiting time. Possibly walk a few stories up or down or combine with stretch time. I understand absolutely where you’re coming from. Learned to not be irritable waiting for buses by walking between stops this became a regular 5 mile walk to work 4 years ago. Also run and gym. Am 62.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Hi Tony, I think the bottom line is every little bit helps, and I like how the pacing changed how you felt about the waiting. Your incremental exercise fits in under NEAT (non-exercise activity thermogenesis), a fancy phrase that means we should move around more and sit less during the day, which Dr. James Levine describes in detail in his book Get Up!: Why Your Chair is Killing You and What You Can Do About It.
    I wrote about that in my blog post today “Fitness Motivation- Making It Enjoyable”

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Thanks for sharing! The Trainer (RN)* Personal Trainer, “One On One Only”

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s