Earlier this year, this writer and his wife joined the legions of stuck-at-home and out-of-shape Americans investing in home exercise equipment. We invested in a sit-down strider, an exercise machine that is a lot like an elliptical except that you exercise from a sitting position. In the months we’ve been using it, I’ve discovered something interesting: a little daily exercise adds up over time.
For the record, we live in a popular tourist destination. Previous to COVID, our exercise consisted of getting out and walking (or manually operating a wheelchair, in my case) among all the tourists. But when tourism shut down due to the pandemic, our walking was greatly diminished. We found ourselves generally staying home because there was little to go out and do.
Like so many others, the pounds started hanging on rather than getting lost. We eventually decided we had to get back to exercise. That is when we bought the strider. Now that things are opening back up, we still use the machine on days when we don’t get out to walk – which leads us to my recent discovery.
Looking at the Odometer
We did not spend a ton of money on our strider. As such, its digital display is quite limited. But it does have an odometer feature. The other night, as I was scrolling through the various menus, I noticed that the odometer had surpassed two thousand miles. I was shocked.
Between the two of us, we have put in enough miles to equal a trip from our current home in Florida to our former home in New York, and then more than three quarters of the way back to Florida again! That astounded me, especially since we each put in between six and seven miles per day.
Seeing the odometer reading was a reminder to me that the unseen benefits of exercise add up over time as well. For instance, we have both lost weight as a result of getting back into exercise. The weight loss was not instantaneous for either one of us. It has been a gradual process all along. Yet the scale definitely shows the results.
Any Exercise Will Do
Looking at the odometer also reminded me that any exercise will do. We chose the strider because I am unable to exercise in a standing position. When we go out, I manually operate my wheelchair while my wife walks. We are still both exercising. Meanwhile, we frequently encounter joggers and bike riders. They are all exercising, too.
Exercise can be indoors or out. We stride inside but walk outside. Likewise, there are people who take indoor cycling classes two or three times per week, then ride their regular bikes outside on the off days. Salt Lake City’s Mcycle Studios says that mixing bike rides is a good way to break up an exercise routine.
Like Picking Up Pennies
If you are struggling to stay motivated because you don’t necessarily see immediate benefits from exercise, you’re not alone. It is something many of us struggle with. But try thinking of it like picking up pennies. One penny isn’t going to do a whole lot for your finances. But picking up pennies here and there will add up over time.
My wife I have already put in more than two thousand miles on the strider. Now we are shooting for three thousand miles. All those miles represent better health for both of us. I can honestly say that I enjoy watching the odometer tick up. To me, it symbolizes the cumulative benefits of exercise, even when those benefits escape me in the moment.