My workout isn't working out. Um, help?
March 16, 2011 6:27 PM   Subscribe

My workout isn't working out. What am I doing wrong?

So, based on this question I've been going to my gym about three or four times a week and walking on the track. I tried the treadmill and the elliptic but the treadmill was boring and the elliptic hurt too much so I stopped both and stuck to the track.

On the days I don't walk at the gym I stretch at home. I replaced my chair with an exercise ball and use that most of the time I'm home, and I use it to exercise with as well. It's great for my back! I also don't have a car so I walk everywhere, even to the grocery store that's two miles away.

Here's the thing. I'm not getting any fitter. When I walk in the gym I walk fast enough to break a sweat for a good twenty to thirty minutes - five to ten minutes to warm up and five to ten minutes to cool down. It all depends on how I feel that day. I started at thirty but worked my way up to about forty five minutes. I guess I'm no longer the slowest person on the track but I'm still way slow. I still get wheezy walking up the inclines scattered around the campus and I'm almost certain I haven't lost any weight -- since weight-loss isn't my goal I haven't really checked, but my clothes still fit as they did in October.

So, what am I doing wrong? My knees and legs hurt after forty-five minutes of walking on the track so I don't want to push it to an hour, and I still have to walk home after the workout - another ten to fifteen minutes. I cannot run, it would do me serious damage. It's been nearly six months! I should be seeing some kind of results. I'm getting kind of discouraged here.

Any advice? Hints? Suggestions? I'm open.
posted by patheral to Health & Fitness (35 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: "I started at thirty but worked my way up to about forty five minutes. I guess I'm no longer the slowest person on the track "

This suggests to me that you are, in fact, getting fitter. It just seems to be working slower than you anticipated.

You might want to consider pushing yourself for EITHER speed OR distance (time length) rather than both. Or alternate. It sounds like you might have reached a limit for length of time that is pushing your knees beyond what they are comfortable with, so maybe reduce the time and increase the speed. I.e. how fast can you walk for 10 minutes? Or do intervals?

Finally, in my own experience, training on the flat makes no difference to your ability on hills. If you want to not get wheezy walking up inclines, you need to practice walking up inclines. If you can force yourself to use a treadmill (maybe listen to audiobooks to combat the boredom), that's an easy way to add in some inclines to your workout.
posted by lollusc at 6:40 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

What are you trying to accomplish with your workouts? Your body won't get fitter unless you ask it to by increasing the demands you place on it. You mention that you've gone from thirty minutes of walking to forty-five minutes -- that's progress. As long as you're making progress in some way, you're on the right track.

If your goal is fat loss, you'll need to focus on your diet. Walking is a good habit, and a useful tool when done consistently, but it's not a very efficient way to burn calories, and you can't out-walk an inappropriate diet.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 6:41 PM on March 16, 2011

Response by poster: If your goal is fat loss, you'll need to focus on your diet. Walking is a good habit, and a useful tool when done consistently, but it's not a very efficient way to burn calories, and you can't out-walk an inappropriate diet.

Though I hardly eat what one would call a "healthy" diet - low on veggies high on starches - it's way better than I used to eat. I kept a food diary for about two years, up until about four months ago... so I'm aware of what I eat. I eat anywhere in the range of 1500 to 1800 calories a day. My diet hasn't changed significantly since I started exercising so I thought I'd see *some* improvement.

My goal isn't fat loss or weight loss, it's more along the lines of being able to walk without getting out of breath and taking inclines without wheezing my lungs out and helping my knees & back to not hurt at much by building up the muscles around them. (yeah, yeah I know, weight lifting is good for that and maybe I'll get to it but it's so boring!)
posted by patheral at 6:52 PM on March 16, 2011

Best answer: What about other types of exercises that wouldn't hurt your knees or other body parts? Swimming? Biking? Mixing things up and pushing yourself are both good for fitness and fat loss purposes. Your body adjusts after awhile if you do one thing all the time and being fit at one type of exercise may not translate to being fit at another type of exercise. (i.e., being able to walk a long, flat distance will not translate to being able to walk up hills)

Also as others have said, if you are interested in weight loss, diet is the key. Walking for an hour only burns a few hundred calories, which can easily be eaten and undone in a matter of minutes.

But don't get discouraged. You're making progress and sticking with it!
posted by unannihilated at 6:52 PM on March 16, 2011

Best answer: Try using the treadmill at an incline - that gets results much more efficiently than flat does.

Also, perhaps warm up for 5 to 10 minutes, get off and do some free weights. They don't have to be very much weight at all, try 5 pounds to start. Doing free weights will get you better results than using a machine because you're balancing the weights yourself, and a machine does the balancing for you. Do some basic exercises, I can elaborate if you like, for about 15-20 minutes. Then get back on the treadmill for another 30. Doing weights will help you burn more calories throughout the day, and will help you build strength (i.e. get "fitter") much better than just walking will.
posted by hugandpint at 6:55 PM on March 16, 2011

80% of getting in shape is your diet. You could run miles and miles a day but if your diet isnt any good, nothing will change.

I know people who swim literally miles a day, or run miles a day, 4-5 times a week. But their diet sucks, and they're by no means "in shape," they just have a decent cardio system. If thats all you're going for, start running the straights and walking the circles on the track for your workout, work it to only walking one of the two bends, etc.
posted by irishcoffee at 7:10 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

Another thought is that you might want to track yourself more closely than you currently are. Seeing even small results can be very motivating, but those results aren't always evident unless you are keeping close track of them.

For example, record your resting pulse rate every morning when you wake up. I bet if you had done that before you started your walking routines, you would see that it's much lower now.

And/or record your heart rate right after your exercise session each time.

If you are trying to lose weight, don't just weigh yourself: measure certain points on your body too, once a week or so. E.g. waist, thigh, wrist, neck, etc. Similarly, if you are trying to build muscle, measure thighs, calves (and biceps and forearms if you are working out your arms). You won't see progress here quite as quickly, though, if you are female.

Record your distances and times for walking. If you have some way of measuring breathlessness, that would be cool too. E.g. how long does it take after you start "cool down" before you can comfortably hold a conversation?
posted by lollusc at 7:12 PM on March 16, 2011

Best answer: From your post it seems that you are judging your perceived lack of progress by the following:
(1) you are still "way slow"
(2) you get wheezy when walking up inclines
(3) clothes fit the same.

For (1) and (2), that's not surprising at all even if you are getting fitter. You need to push beyond comfort level and walk faster (e.g. walk fast for 1 minute and then 9 min recovery normal speed) or walk inclines to get better at that. Some people run slowly for years and get quite fit while others start doing speed work and get faster in months. I walk up a steep hill everyday but I still get out of breath when walking up a few storeys of stairs. It's just different.

As for (3), well if you exercise 45 min x 4 times, walking at a slow speed, you're probably walking about 9 miles per week? If you are not eating any excess over your base needs (without exercise), that's still less than 2 lb a month, roughly. And if you have a "cheat" meal once in a while, it's really really easy to cancel out your exercise.

I second what hugandpint said for how to ramp up your exercise routine. Maybe attack those campus inclines during your lunch hour?
posted by bread-eater at 7:12 PM on March 16, 2011

Oh sorry I forgot to say this part. Instead of the (1-3) that I paraphrased from you, what you can use as indicators of your progress is how you are able to walk longer and probably with less effort than before, if you keep the same typical speed. Your exercise may not be enough to have an effect, but your blood pressure and resting heart rate may be lower too.
posted by bread-eater at 7:17 PM on March 16, 2011

While weight loss isn't your goal, it sounds like you have knee issues, and weight loss could help remove some of the stress on them.

If you're looking to increase your fitness levels, then like some of the posters above have indicated, you need to keep pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Treadmills, while boring, are easier on your bones and allow you to control the incline levels (which is a good way to push yourself). Maybe bring some music with you to the gym? Or try and find a machine that has a TV attached to it.

Honestly though, I would seriously suggest looking at your diet. Exercise is important as it will burn some extra calories per day, and help you build muscle mass (which will also boost the calories your body burns each day), but in the grand scheme losing some of the weight could really give you some more energy. I was going to bootcamps 3 times a week for 2 years, but I still ate crap. Once I started tracking my diet (this Jan) I lost 11 pounds. Using a food journal can totally help this. I used and I love it.

Plus when you can *see* results it makes pushing yourself in a workout easier :)
posted by groovesquirrel at 7:21 PM on March 16, 2011

Response by poster: Like I mentioned before, I kept a food diary for about two years - first online then on my computer then on my ipod touch. My caloric intake is about 1500 to 1800 a day. I don't have the healthiest diet in the world but it's hardly the worst. My original post mentioned that I used to weigh about 90-ish pounds more than I do now, so I'm pretty aware of what I eat. ^_^ I still have the program on my ipod touch so I can start up again and see if I'm still within that range...

irishcoffee, I flat out cannot run at all - even the small bits of the track. My body will not take it. What I've been doing is something along the lines of power walking, that's about the fastest I can go right now and even that gets me out of breath and makes my knees hurt and swell - though I can do it for a bit longer than I could before so there's that.

I guess I'll bite the bullet and get back on the treadmill. I do have my ipod with me when I exercise - it dictates my pace most of the time (double time for a lot of the songs but I have some pretty upbeat songs on there). I guess walking on the treadmill will be a bit different since it's a steady pace.

As for the inclines on campus, I walk up and down the stupid things every freaking day, sometimes twice a day - to work, to class, to the gym, from the gym, to the coffee shop, home, etc. - with my backpack on most of the time. I don't understand why they still wind me since I've been here for a good three years. It's a mystery...

I really appreciate y'all's encouragement and advice.
posted by patheral at 7:33 PM on March 16, 2011

You don't mention heart rate at all. You need to be working out at about 70 percent of your max for a cardio workout. Calculate this as 220 - your age * .70.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:40 PM on March 16, 2011

Best answer: I found the walking plans in this Prevention workout really useful. The other bits of the workout were okay, too, but when I was really doing the walking, alternating power walking with the speed ladder, I was seeing significant improvement in the distances I was covering in those set times in just a few weeks.

What I did was use a sound editor to plunk together songs from my music collection that were the right length and sorta the right tempo, along with a recording of my voice telling me what the next step was. For example, in speed ladder, things started off mid-tempo, and by the end, where I was doing the 1 minute at the fastest pace I could manage, I had this great piece from Carmina Burana that was all like raging strings and crashing cymbols and the whole thing reach a giant crescendo right at the point when I thought I was gonna die.

And then cool down music came on.

I had to stop walking because I was fucking up my feet too badly, but it was actually pretty awesome, and for me to say that about exercise is something.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:47 PM on March 16, 2011 [2 favorites]

You're getting better time, that's great!

It sounds like you're still not pushing yourself enough, though. I understand that you aren't concerned about weight loss, but (additional) weight loss will help reduce the strain on your bones/joints while pursuing higher-impact exercises. Swimming is a great way to start on that. Also, in addition to weight loss/muscle gain, exercise will also strengthen your ligaments and small muscles around joints allowing you to pursue higher-impact training without injury/pain. It would be really interesting to see if getting help starting to do squats at your gym will help you run better.

Not only does it build muscle in your legs, core, and back (all of which will eat up calories even if you aren't actively using/pushing them) but the strengthened core and leg muscles (including the small ones) may very well help you be able to run.

Many people are not great at estimating their daily caloric intake (this may very well not apply to you, having lost 90 pounds). Perhaps consulting with a professional (if you can afford it) could help you better estimate/calculate your daily caloric intake?

Walking everywhere is great, as are stairs.

Have you considered getting a couple of 5 or 10 pound weights to hold and swing while doing power walks? Or a 10 or 20 pound bar to swing around during your walks? That extra weight (which isn't you) does unbelievable things on burning calories and trimming upper body.
posted by porpoise at 8:03 PM on March 16, 2011

Response by poster: It would be really interesting to see if getting help starting to do squats at your gym will help you run better.

The very thought of doing squats makes my knees hurt, as does taking the stairs more than one flight. ^_^ I have arthritis in both knees and a degenerative disc in my back. Even sitting too long makes my knees and back hurt. Bending them over and over? Yikes! Seriously though? I tried it, then I ended up limping over to the PT here on campus and he said, "Don't do that again." So I'm not gonna do that again.

Honestly, running is out of the equation. I can't even run across the street without doing damage. It HURTS!

I have thought about getting weights to carry though. When I'm not walking at the gym I generally tote around a back pack with my school junk in it, or groceries from the store...
posted by patheral at 8:20 PM on March 16, 2011

80% of getting in shape is your diet. You could run miles and miles a day but if your diet isnt any good, nothing will change

I can attest to the things not changing despite sufficient workout. I can't give you a recipe for a better workable diet though, that I haven't found. I've never found a "good diet" that was also quick and cheap. Good healthy food is expensive and takes time to make, each scarce quantities if you don't want to live in the kitchen. Lately I've been buying frozen "Steam in bag" vegetables for lunch. Avoid the butter sauce version. Now the bisphenol A content is another question.

As for time on the treadmill, audio books and itunes U lectures help.
posted by Chekhovian at 9:01 PM on March 16, 2011

I've been going to my gym about three or four times a week and walking on the track.

Well, there's good news and there's bad news.

The good news is that you're doing one thing great: you're going to the gym about as much as you should be going. The hardest part to a workout regiment is just finding the willpower to consistently keep going. And it sounds like you've got that part figured out.

The bad news is that you aren't doing shit. Sorry to be so blunt. Walking around on an indoor track is about as strenuous a physical activity as eating a sandwich. You're wasting your time, which is a real shame, because if you were using your time better you really wouldn't need to be increasing your workout duration to 45 minutes. It's good that you are, but walking around will never be enough. You either need to pick up the pace to a jog, or start lifting some weights. Right now you just aren't challenging your body enough.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 9:04 PM on March 16, 2011

Anecdata alert: I walked up hills every day for four years while at school in Berkeley. I got winded about half the time I went up those damn hills. I would silently pray that passing cars volunteer to pick m up (never happened).

Then I moved to San Francisco to the top of Nob Hill. I now walk up much, much steeper hills every day. And you bet I get winded- I curse gravity more often than some people brush their teeth.

But! I can now amble up the hills in Berkeley without a care in the world.
posted by samthemander at 9:05 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

The bad news is that you aren't doing shit. Sorry to be so blunt. Walking around on an indoor track is about as strenuous a physical activity as eating a sandwich.
Yeah, this. Sorry, but you simply aren't working your body hard enough with this to get you beyond an extremely basic level of fitness (ie 'can walk 10-15 minutes without collapsing'), which is pretty much were you are now. Walking up a hill a couple of times a day doesn't really add anything if you are walking at 'normal' pace. You need to push yourself much harder, which sounds like a real challenge for you, given the back/knee problems.
Swimming would be perfect for you, although access to suitable facilities is generally much harder than gyms etc.

To me, it sounds like you are wasting your money on a gym if all you are doing is walking around a level track - you can do that anywhere for free. I would be inclined to can the gym fees and put them towards regular sessions with a qualified personal trainer who can tailor a program to suit your needs and goals. You don't have to have them for every session you do - just often enough to keep you on track and give you some objective feedback on your progress.

What samthemander said rings true for me, too - I started some fairly rigorous training about a month ago and, prior to that, I had done the occasional run around where I work, including running up a very steep hill, which use to always leave me spent. Lately, though, I've been training of much steeper, much longer hills and, while those hills still leave me breathless at the top, the hill that used to do the same now seems like nothing more than a speed-bump. If your measurement is being able to wander up and down the hills on campus easily, you need to find something much harder to train on and do it faster and for longer to build strength and cardio fitness.

One thing that I have found, having a knee that has given me trouble for over 30 years (some forms of exercise make it incredibly painful for days, even now) is that continuing to exercise trouble areas (within reason) actually diminishes the problems by building strength in the relevant muscles. Arthritis may indicate against many forms of exercise, of course, but there are lots of ways to build strength and a good PT can help you immeasurably.
posted by dg at 10:06 PM on March 16, 2011 [1 favorite]

I agree with dg - I don't know why you'd pay gym fees when you can walk around for free (unless you live somewhere dangerous or with incredibly bad weather), and use the money for a good personal trainer who can work with your particular physiological issues.

The good news is your walking is good for your health but overall, your fitness won't increase unless you are increasing your effort each time you exercise to the point where you are puffed and sweaty.

Oh and weightlifting is only boring if you're doing it wrong. See a good trainer, get some good programs, and push yourself.
posted by jasperella at 12:29 AM on March 17, 2011

Swimming and bicycling both seem like good ideas (especially swimming, given the back problem), but some personalized expert advice would be a great thing for you. Thanks to cerebral palsy, my wife's got a bunch of problems with her legs -- a fused ankle, atrophied calf muscles, kneecaps that sit in the wrong place relative to the joint, frequent tendinitis and a bit of arthritis. She had a friend who manages the fitness center at a local retirement community do an assessment for her, and ended up with a custom-built plan of exercises that she can actually do.
posted by jon1270 at 3:58 AM on March 17, 2011

I was going to suggest what jon1270 did - get a PT or a trainer who can help you find exercises that you can do without damaging your knee. I signed up for a free training session at my gym and told the guy that my knees hurt so I can't do squats. He had me try them by putting the exercise ball against the wall and leaning my back hard against it while I do the squat. It takes a lot of pressure off the knees.

(IANAD; this is not advice for your situation - it's just an example of a possibility that you can discover if you consult a professional)
posted by CathyG at 7:28 AM on March 17, 2011

If the OP is a student, she might have the gym membership included in her tuition or student insurance, so there might not be funds she can redirect.

But anyway, to the OP: a personal trainer would be really helpful. Figure out how to maximize your time at the gym and maybe make your workout an hour instead of 45 min. If you haven't already (you probably have, given your arthristis), check with your school's gym and health care system to see the prices for personal training and physical therapy. Also, if your school offers any fitness classes, that's a great way to get a high-intensity workout. Some are specified low-impact (pool workouts, low step, pilates).
posted by bread-eater at 7:30 AM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: The very thought of doing squats makes my knees hurt, as does taking the stairs more than one flight. ^_^ I have arthritis in both knees and a degenerative disc in my back. Even sitting too long makes my knees and back hurt. Bending them over and over? Yikes! Seriously though? I tried it, then I ended up limping over to the PT here on campus and he said, "Don't do that again." So I'm not gonna do that again.

Your last question says you're 43 years old. Can you get up out of a chair when you sit down? Do you want to retain that ability as you get older? You have to use it or lose it. I have heard the above paragraph, word for word, many times before. Squatting is hard, nobody wants to do it. I'm sure you can find lots of people who will give you permission to not try.

There's nothing you can do to fix the cartilage in your knees or the discs in your back. What you can do is strengthen the muscles that support them. The most efficient way to do these is with exercises like squatting and deadlifting, which mirror movements that we all make in daily life, and strengthen the full body in a "functional" way. It might be worth considering that you have bad knees and back because of not squatting. Continuing to not squat isn't going to make them get better.

Obviously you have to work at your level, and learn to do things with proper mechanics. This may mean starting out with a limited range of motion and assistance, and then gradually progressing towards a full range of motion and no assistance, and then adding weight. That will get you somewhere. Cringing at the thought of going outside your comfort zone will not.

I am not your doctor, consult a physician before beginning any new exercise program, etc.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 7:46 AM on March 17, 2011 [2 favorites]

Best answer: If not immediately getting into squats, perhaps see your doctor/student health doctor about back pain (disc problems) and joint pain (cartilage problems) and get a referral to a physical therapist - who can teach you exercises with elastics (surgical tubing of various resistances with handles) to specifically work on strengthening the ligaments and small muscles around your joints.

This may very well help you with the day-to-day pain and quite possibly get you to the point where you can engage in more strenuous (and more effective) exercises without pain/further damage.
posted by porpoise at 8:03 AM on March 17, 2011

It's already been said but I will reiterate it here. You need to workout harder. You talk about being out of breath like it is a medical condition, but if I am not out of breath when I am working out then I know I am not working out all that hard. That's kind of the point isn't it?

As for pain, yes it happens, as we get older our joints ache. Hell I have joints that are routinely in excruciating pain. There are certain exercise I love doing but can no longer do, so I adapt and find a new one and work out just as hard. If you continue along the same path the pain will just get worse as you age. Working your muscles and your conditioning and dropping weight will help mitigate that pain, but that is up to you.

Arthritic knees, have you tried a spin class? Spinning on a bike is pretty low impact on the knees and a hell of a workout, BUT that is up to you.

Also weights of some sort will go a long way to helping you. Get a trainer work with them to teach you the fundamentals of weight lifting, with specific focus on your legs and torso (back/chest/abs). If they start telling you you need to firm up your arms and do a million sit ups then tell them to screw. They are just telling you crap they think you want to hear.

It's good that you are doing something and on here talking about it. You got some good advice here. Sounds like you have access to some decent facilities, you need to take advantage of them.

(I am Not a Doctor or certified trainer - This is not not medical advice - just my opinion, talk to your doctor about any new workout routine etc etc..)
posted by WickedPissah at 9:27 AM on March 17, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for the advice everyone, and I guess I should have made some things clearer (I didn't want to repeat my last post, but here goes). I'm not paying for a gym membership, it's free with my tuition as breadeater said. I'm a starving grad student so I honestly don't have a lot of money to throw at doctors and physical therapists. I talked to the physical therapist here twice last year, once when I threw out my back and once when I hurt my hip, and he gave me some exercises for my back which I do upon occasion. I have to pay for him out of pocket though, and it's not cheap.

Along with the arthritis in my knees and the dd in my back, I also have mild to moderate asthma. This is one of the reasons why I try not to huff and puff too much while walking and why I use the indoor gym, because when it's too hot/cold outside I just cannot breathe. Since my asthma is moderate to mild, the doctors don't see fit to put me on preventative medication so all i have is a rescue inhaler. I also have tendonitis in my right wrist and arthritis in both hands. To top it all off, I have fibromyalgia. I'm in pain every day. I can't take painkillers (please believe me on this, I've had this discussion before) other than Tylenol, which takes the edge off but doesn't to much else, so exercise is one of the ways I'm trying to bring my body in line.

The walking I'm doing makes me out of breath and sweaty. When I'm done with forty-five minutes, my legs hurt like hell and my knees are all puffy. I'm not just strolling around the track, I'm honestly trying to go as fast as I can.

I did pay for three sessions with a physical trainer last semester but haven't followed through with the weight training - that's about all he did was show me which machines wouldn't kill me. ^_^ Since y'all seem to advocate it so much, I guess that truly is the next step.

Thanks again for the advice.
posted by patheral at 1:21 PM on March 17, 2011

Response by poster: Can you get up out of a chair when you sit down? Do you want to retain that ability as you get older? You have to use it or lose it.

I forgot to address this. I actually cannot get up out of a chair without using my arms. I have to leverage myself out of a chair by pushing down with my hands on the arms of the chair (or whatever's handy). I haven't been able to get out of an armless chair easily in years.
posted by patheral at 1:53 PM on March 17, 2011

That sounds like a great goal for you then. A knowledgeable trainer or coach will be able to help you make a plan to get there.
posted by Anatoly Pisarenko at 2:01 PM on March 17, 2011

After reading your follow up, again great that you are making an attempt but I think you need to get out of your comfort level once in awhile. I am not advocating that you induce an asthma attack, please don't do that, but you do need to push yourself. And again I really recommend that you look into spinning classes. Yes they are tough, and seem intimidating but you control how hard it is, get into it and ramp up. Also, get back to those weights. They will make a huge difference.

Working out hard, is not comfortable. There is a reason most people make faces when lifting weights. I personally have serious joint pain from various old injuries (broken bones, torn ligaments, torn cartilage etc etc etc). But I know that if I work to increase the strength of the supporting muscles around those joints then it will benefit me greatly down the road.

As for getting out of chairs, you are way too young to be having that much of a problem getting out of a chair. Weights and more intense cardio will help you strengthen your muscles and drop weight and allow you more comfort in your life.

It's obvious that you have the bug, you know what steps you need to take so get out there and do it. And report back too. Good luck and keep at it.
posted by WickedPissah at 5:02 PM on March 17, 2011

Walking for 30 minutes is not exercise. It's shopping.

Deadlift more.
posted by tiburon at 7:32 PM on March 17, 2011 [1 favorite]

One thing, regarding the asthma:

I can pretty readily predict the heart rate at which 'huffing and puffing' becomes 'wheezing and coughing' for me, and it's just past the top edge of my target heart rate for cardio exercise. That means I can push myself enough, as long as I don't push myself too hard.

Get a heart rate monitor, a good one, and maybe you'll be able to do the same?
posted by jacquilynne at 8:26 PM on March 17, 2011

Best answer: Please don't listen to people who say, "walking isn't exercise." So annoying. Have you people not seen race walkers in the Olympics?

I'm saying the OP is an Olympic race-walker,, but she obviously is pushing herself. She literally cannot run, so how could she be doing more at this point? Besides, I have had success in the past with dropping a few points but walking briskly over long distances. No, nobody is going to get super-fit by taking a lesiurely stroll for 20 minutes, but on the other hand, for some people, what looks like a leisurely stroll to us is that person pushing themselves to their exercise limit. You can't do more than you can do!
posted by bearette at 4:04 AM on March 18, 2011

*not* saying the OP is an Olympic race-walker. Ugh...

And another point: no, working out is not supposed to be easy, but it's also not supposed to feel like you are killing yourself every time.
posted by bearette at 4:05 AM on March 18, 2011

Best answer: Wow, given all your aches and pains, I think you're doing very well in terms of motivating yourself to exercise. Just want to add an anecdote: My mom has been exercising *almost* daily (maybe 9 out of 10 days) by walking at a brisk pace (for her, so not very fast really) for 30-40 minutes on the treadmill, very little incline. She's done this for well over a year now. She probably only lost a few pounds and clothes fit a little better, but the biggest encouragement and indicator of progress she gets are that people who haven't seen her since she started working out all tell her she looks great -- healthier, less tired. The family doctor is also happy with the blood stats.
posted by bread-eater at 10:10 AM on March 18, 2011

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