To encourage more active lifestyles, public health agencies recommend mixed-use neighborhoods and “complete” streets that are friendlier to walkers and bikers, but new Cornell University research finds that while those strategies increase physical activity, an urban bias limits their applicability in many parts of the country.
Planners in suburban and rural communities should focus more on promoting recreational programs, expanding transportation options and creating safer environments to help an aging population get more exercise, according to the researchers’ analysis of more than 1,300 U.S. counties and cities.
“These are things we can think about doing in any community,” said Mildred Warner, professor of global development and of city and regional planning. “If your community is investing in recreation and social activity, they’re more likely to address obesity and other problems linked to physical inactivity.”
I wanted to rerun this item on stair-climbing as a superb alternative to trying to exercise in the sub-zero weather which we have been experiencing in much of the country.
Regular readers know that I have been an avid bicycle rider for years. I logged over 7000 miles in the year just ended. And, I have not stopped riding. I have, however, begun a new exercise, for me – climbing stairs.
Although this person is walking down the stairs, I don’t recommend it. You can develop knee problems among others.
How come? Well, the only drawback to cycling I know of is that it is not weight-bearing. So, while the aerobic activity benefits my cardiovascular system greatly, I get no benefits for my skeletal system. I need both and I just can’t get into weight workouts.
An additional benefit of stair climbing over bike riding is that you can do it indoors so the weather conditions do not present a problem. Having just suffered through historic cold weather with much of the country, this is particularly relevant now. While current temps here in Chicago range in the mid 30’s, there is still a lot of snow, ice and slush around that makes for dangerous biking conditions.
So, what about climbing stairs? It burns more calories than running and doesn’t beat up your legs as much as running does. RunSociety says, “When you stair climb for exercise, you burn twice the fat in half the time than if you run and three times more than walking. An intense stair-climbing exercise session will produce more aerobic benefits in a shorter amount of time than running or walking. One hour of stair climbing will burn approximately 1000 calories.”
Nonetheless, you can climb at your own pace and still get a good workout.
A New York Times article by Dr. Harvey Simon on the heath sciences technology faculty at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and founding editor of the Harvard Men’s Health Watch, wrote, “What’s so special about climbing stairs? Researchers in Canada answered the question by monitoring 17 healthy male volunteers with an average age of 64 while they walked on the level, lifted weights or climbed stairs. Stair climbing was the most demanding. It was twice as taxing as brisk walking on the level and 50 percent harder than walking up a steep incline or lifting weights. And peak exertion was attained much faster climbing stairs than walking, which is why nearly everyone huffs and puffs going up stairs, at least until their “second wind” kicks in after a few flights.” Continue reading →
I am rerunning this post from 2015 because I know that a lot of bike riders are just now beginning to ride again and I consider these two stretches to be superb for cyclists. I hope you agree.
I ride my bicycle virtually every day here in Chicago. Last year I averaged just over 17 miles per day for all 365 days for a total of 6350 miles for the year.
As you can imagine in a four season city like Chicago, I am not always able to ride at all, so I end up with some longer rides to compensate.
As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flow back into my legs when I finish.
I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes the difference. I did yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do diaphragmatic breathing which sends lots of oxygen-rich cells down to the aching muscles. For the first bent-knee, extended leg stretch, please do it as follows. The picture in this case isn’t perfect. Try to create a straight line from the bottom of your stretched out leg to the top of your head. Don’t bend your body and lay your head down as the cyclist in the photo is doing. With your bent leg, make sure that the knee is perpendicular to the ground. That way you have all straight lines and right angles. Once you are in the stretch breathe in through the nose for a count to five, hold it, then release it through your mouth for a count of five. Do this four or five times and then release the position gently. Assume the same position only with the legs reversed. If the right leg was stretched, now it will be the bent one. Repeat the breathing. Continue reading →
Last year I posted The Ravages of Age which I intended as a kind of joke on the reader as I enumerated the toll that age was taking on my 15-year-old dog, not me. The fact is that I enjoy reasonably good health. I feel well-informed on the subject of health as I read and write about it every day of my life. Nonetheless, one of the distinctive aspects of my age is the loss of a sense of context.
I hope that isn’t too vague. What I mean is that since I have outlived many of my friends, family and loved ones, I don’t have many contemporary friends. I have lots of friends and acquaintances 10, 20, 30, 40 and 50 years younger than I am. But people within a decade of my age are few and far between.
For that reason I often feel out there and alone when it comes to a lot of the nitty-gritty aspects of daily life.
Since I have celebrated my usual robust good health with you in previous posts, I thought it fitting to include this shortfall on my part.
A mere 24 hours ago I was in the oral surgeon’s chair waiting to be operated on. A couple of weeks back I managed to break a tooth biting into a hard piece of chocolate on one of my breaks while bike riding. Turned out that I needed an extraction (of the root), a bone graft and an implant for a new crown.
You should be able to make out the missing tooth right next to the two front ones. Only the root remains.
I am resending this on the blog as my Christmas present to you. My girlfriend gave me a Yoda hoodie for Christmas with the quote – “Try not. Do, or do not. There is no try.”
Those were Yoda’s words to Luke Skywalker in The Empire Strikes Back when Luke was stuck, unsuccessful and becoming frustrated with his failure. Luke precipitated that fabulous quote when he said, “Okay, I’ll give it a try.”
I always liked Yoda’s words. There seemed to be a deep meaning to them. How can you do something without trying? I never quite got what it was, but I always sensed there was a profound meaning in there some place. I don’t know how many years ago I heard that quote. It was in a movie theater when that particular installment of the Star Wars Trilogy was showing. Surely more than 10 years have gone by, maybe 20. Anyway, I finally got it.
I was riding my bicycle yesterday afternoon and just kind of playing with the idea of trying. What does it mean to try? That happens a lot when I am riding. I have told people that riding is my meditation. It just happens to burn calories. I don’t ride the bike for that, though. I do it because I love riding. Everything else is just gravy.
Regular readers know that I ride year ’round here in Chicago. Through November, we barely cracked 40 degrees F which didn’t call for much extra prep beyond gloves and ear covering. Come December, however, with the advent of the 30s and below a whole new dimension of cycling wear opens up. Whether you ride a bike or not, I think you will find some useful info here.
From the Toronto Star
A recent Wall Street Journal had a cleverly written item on Your Outdoor Sports Survival Guide, by Jason Gay. He aptly describes “the maniacal joy of Survival Season,” and observes “Nobody looks suave playing sports in the freezing cold. If you are doing it correctly, you look a little unhinged and suspicious. Are you going to play golf…or rob the Bank of Alaska?” Continue reading →
I realize that we are well into biking season, so I must apologize for not getting this post out at least a month ago. On the other hand, better late than never. So, here it is.
As a senior citizen riding the bike every day can sometimes stiffen up my leg muscles. I have found two wonderful stretches that do a super job of rejuvenating my legs on long rides. I usually do them after about ten miles so the muscles are warmed up. Every time I do them, I can always feel the energy flow back into my legs when I finish. I have pictures of each stretch, but I want to explain how I do them as that makes the difference. I did yoga for years and when I stretch, I always do diaphragmatic breathing which sends lots of oxygen-rich cells down to the aching muscles.
One note about stretching: Don’t do it before you start your ride. Get some pedaling in first, this loosens up your muscles and gets your system lubricated.
For the first bent-knee, extended leg stretch, please do it as follows. The picture in this case isn’t perfect. Try to create a straight line from the bottom of your stretched out leg to the top of your head. Don’t bend your body and lay your head down as the cyclist in the photo is doing. With your bent leg, make sure that the knee is perpendicular to the ground. That way you have all straight lines and right angles. Once you are in the stretch breathe in through the nose for a count to five, hold it, then release it through your mouth for a count of five. Do this four or five times and then release the position gently. Assume the same position only with the legs reversed. If the right leg was stretched, now it will be the bent one. Repeat the breathing.
Having just written about The coolest water bottle ever, in fairness to my other cool water bottles, I thought I should mention them, too. They are really neat, too and make my bike rides as enjoyable as possible. For the mathematically keen, yes, that comes to a total of three water bottles. And, yes, my bike only has two cages for water bottles. Stay tuned, there is an explanation.
The first is my bottle from the Eddie Bauer store for outdoor activities.
This is my bottle for riding in summer heat. As you can see, besides the drinking spout there is a nozzle at the top and also a ‘trigger-like’ mechanism that, in fact, functions as a trigger. This allows me to spray my face with a cool mist during summer rides. The bottle boasts a wide mouth so, I have no trouble putting in ice cubes to keep the water temp down. Also, it is well-constructed with an ‘inner bottle’ which means the ice cubes stay solid a long time. Continue reading →
I am now entering my eighth day of no bike riding. Regular readers will find this unusual. Not as much as I do. Unfortunately, I have come down with a bronchial infection that completely wipes out my energy. It started last Sunday during Chicago’s famous Bike the Drive ride. I wrote about Bike the Drive earlier this year. I rode the last eight miles of the ride last week against the wind while fighting a fever. It was a v e r y long eight miles – the dog rides in her basket, so we are talking about me propelling a 50 pound bike. When I got home I slept for three hours, but that was just the beginning. For the next few days, fighting a fever I did not know if it was night or day. I wasn’t able to get to the doctor until Wednesday. By then the fever had gone, but the coughing and low energy remained. Because it is viral there isn’t any medicine I can take to fight it.
My biggest problem these days, besides getting some walking in, is the annoying cough spasms. I found the following cough remedies at Medical News Today for anyone else who may be suffering from a summer cold.
Coughs play a role in clearing irritants and infections from the body, but persistent coughing can be annoying. The best treatment for a cough will depend on its underlying cause. There are many possible causes of coughs, including allergies, infections, and acid reflux. Continue reading →
I got my first two wheel bike when I was six or seven. My uncle found it broken down in an alley and fixed it up it for me. It was an original ‘fixie’ – no brakes, the pedals just kept going. I flew all around the neighborhood on it for years.
I got my first real bike – one with 26 inch wheels – when I was 10. Santa Claus brought it and because we had a cold snowy winter in 1950 here in Chicago I wasn’t able to ride it outside for a month. So, you can see that I have pretty much spent my life behind bars – handle bars.
It has been nearly a month since my oral surgery on April 11. You can read the details here. I have been clocking my recovery since then. In the past week I managed a couple of 30 mile days, so I had pretty much concluded that my body finally made it back to normal. My night’s sleep had returned to around the usual seven hours from more extended hours, too. Continue reading →
I am now past one week since my oral surgery and feel like I am recovering nicely, thank you. You can read details of the operation here. One of the most difficult aspects of being 79 is that I don’t have a lot of people that I can share experiences with to give me a perspective on my situation. In the past few days I have managed three bike rides. It took more than four days to feel that I had enough energy to ride at all. I had to wonder is that normal (for someone 79)? None of my bike riding friends is within decades of my age. I can only go by how my own body feels.
I found this wonderful illustration featuring a bicycle and thought I would write a post on biking. As Monty Python used to say, “And now for something new and completely different.”
Tuesday was an especially fun day of riding. Temp was over 55F, so I got to take the dog along in her basket. There was a north wind which will usually put me off. That’s one of the things about being a 79-year-old bike rider, a headwind figures more and more prominently in your plans. We have had such a chilly spring though, that my dog hasn’t gotten to ride much with me. I didn’t want her to miss out again. I am proud to say that I felt like I outsmarted the wind today. I found a patch of the bike path about a half mile long that had a slight incline heading south. As a result, I had the wind blowing at my back pedaling up the hill. Very nice, no significant extra effort. Then, when I turned around and had to ride into the wind, voila, I was able to reap the benefit of the slight decline, and, again, virtually no extra effort. Happy ending. We managed several hours of lovely biking on this early spring afternoon. Continue reading →
Spring in Chicago is a wicked time of year. While we don’t get crippling blizzards like the worst of winter, we suffer from a Chinese water torture of erratic weather that is below freezing one day, low 50’s the next, then back down to the 30’s, and, oh yes, there is the wind. As a result many Chicago bike riders don’t consider riding till late April or May when the weather fluctuates more moderately. For that reason I am celebrating my dog Gabi’s first bike ride of the season. Regular readers know that Gabi rides with me on the Lakefront most days of the year – over 45F – with no wind or rain. She averages around 3000 miles a year in her 13 years of living with me.
I got her the hat initially to protect her from the sun, but I thought it looked so cute, that I just put it on her every time we ride.
I have many shots of her on the bike, but, clearly, it is not easy to get ones of us together. The only ones I have are from the annual Bike the Drive ride that takes place on Memorial Day each year, when Chicago closes the famed Lake Shore Drive for several hours and lets bike riders take it over. About 20,000 of us take advantage of that each year. The ride is sponsored by the American Transportation Alliance (ATA). This year’s listing follows:
With Chicago consistently being ranked by Bicycling magazine as one of the best cities in the nation for biking, there is no better way to celebrate the start of summer than with a ride on the city’s crown jewel roadway – Lake Shore Drive. So grab your bike and enjoy almost 5 hours of car-free riding on Sunday, May 26. Proceeds benefit Active Transportation Alliance’s work to improve biking, walking, and transit throughout Chicagoland.
In past years ATA had photographers along the way capturing riders who wanted a photographic memento of the ride. I stumbled upon some pics from the 2008 ride.
My daughter, Kate, then 14, rode with Gabi and me. Gabi is wearing my windbreaker as it was a chilly morning.
This is a current shot, not on the bike, but wearing her track suit that I got from Amazon. A dog wearing a track suit blows my mind.