Early morning light
(Thanks for joining me on this 52-week journey toward peace which began with sugar and food and now reaches out to every aspect of my path. May it sweeten your own journey. -- Joyce Wycoff)
150 minutes … that seems to be the standard recommendation for the minimum number of minutes of cardio exercise per week. So, what is cardio exercise?
Verywellfit.com provides a simple answer: any exercise that gets your heart rate up. It is, of course, slightly more complicated since it needs to get you into a specific cardio zone of 70% to 80% of your maximum heart rate. There’s a ton of internet information to help you figure out your own numbers … or you can depend on Fitbit or other devices that will track your cardio minutes for you.
I’ve been wearing a Fitbit for about five years and never paid attention to the cardio minutes until recently when I kept hearing the 150 minutes number repeated in several places. So I decided to make it one of the metrics I track. For the month of July, I had 403 cardio minutes … and 152 of those were related to three long walks. Not exactly meeting the recommendation of 675 for four and a half months.
The same pattern continued into this month and I realized that my normal, two+ mile daily walks were NOT getting me into cardio. If I was going to take the cardio recommendation seriously, I needed a different approach. I could power walk but that would interfere with the pleasure of walking and the joy photography. I immediately ruled out gyms … I hate gyms and most types of weight training and have donated too much money to underused gyms already.
Two things happened that changed everything. First, I discovered Flow Rope … a simple, easy movement of ropes that involves no jumping. (see YouTube instruction) I have a very small apartment, but I can turn on music and do flow rope for 10-15 minutes and most of that will be cardio. Turns out that raising and moving your arms is great for these lesser exercised parts of our bodies and creates more cardio-worthy minutes.
The second discovery came in a side door. I’m a huge fan of Andrew Huberman’s neuroscience podcasts and I’ve heard him talking about the value of getting morning sunshine for the past year. However, after listening to a recent podcast about the value of morning sunshine viewing to sleep quality, I decided to try it. The recommendation is to get 5 minutes of direct morning sun viewing, outside without sunglasses, but not in a way that harms your eyes and best done within the first hour after waking up.
I decided to pair it with a mile and a half early morning walk. After returning home and checking my numbers, I was shocked … 23 of the 30 minutes were cardio. It was a brisk walk but definitely not power walking. The next morning showed similar results. Additionally, my energy level throughout the day improved noticeably.
While I’m only a few days into this new routine, I am amazed at the changes in energy and sleep and plan to continue.
Huberman Lab podcasts are long form, generally averaging 2 hours. I have summarized his latest episode on sleep and will be happy to send you a copy if you send an email request to firstname.lastname@example.org
Flow Ropes can be pricey, but I ordered a regular rope with nice handles from amazon for about $20. You may already have one in your garage. Watch the YouTube for length and basic forms.
If you’re serious about your health, I highly recommend Fitbit, Apple watches, or any other device that helps you track exercise, heart rate, and sleep.
If you’re hesitating because of age, I’m 76. Make allowances for your own health condition.