Monday, October 22, 2012

Shake it up

One of the accepted truths about mental and physical fitness is that you should periodically shake up your routine--brush your teeth with the other hand, or switch from low to high reps, for example. Another, less generally accepted maxim is that more exercise does not necessarily convey proportionally more benefits.

For the last six months, I've been going to the gym six days a week, compared with three times a week for the last couple of years. I haven't seen any change to my fitness or happiness level, so it seems like the extra investment might not be the best use of my time.

Reading Drop Dead Healthy reminded me of something that I discovered in Cairo--that walking is a good way to spark creativity. I had about an hour walk and subway commute each way, and many times, the solution to a problem at the office would pop into my head as I was was walking the streets of Maadi listening to Econtalk. It turns out (which I later learned from the now discredited Imagine) that even though you're focused on something else, your brain is still subconsciously working on the problem you left unresolved at the office.  The Jacobs book suggests that moderate exercise, like walking (or even standing) also has health benefits. This is something over which Worldwide (a frequent walker) and I have disagreed, and I think I may be coming around to her side.

We don't live in the best neighbourhood for walking, but, as Steven Wright once observed, anywhere is "walking distance" if you have the time." I've been meaning to become a regular patron of our local butcher, but just haven't been able to work it into the routine. I think that I can get there and back on foot in about an hour, so if I replace a gym visit, there is no temporal loss. Plus I'll be able to spend more time with my educational podcasts (gym time is strictly music). I also think that if I walk one way and take the bus back, I can get to and from the supermarket and library within the hour window. I am looking forward to the change and the novelty, and, in and of itself, that is significant.

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