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new toy

Fairly inexpensive new toy as well. I picked it up for 20 dollars and it’s been interesting to carry it around in my pocket for the last week and a half. It’s also been an interesting motivator.

It came about from something my brother said a couple of weeks ago, about how many steps a person takes a day. It seems that according to a 2004 study, American men take around 7200 steps a day and American women 5200. The average number of steps has probably been declining as the world has become more technologically advanced — many stand up and move around jobs are now done by machines, we’ve got cars to carry us places, we’ve got a lot of games that can be played in front of television and computer screens, it’s becoming a world where you can sit down almost all day.

To add on to this, earlier this week a study out of Britain was published in which a very strong link was found between how much sitting a person does and how likely that person was to be overweight/obese, to develop type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. That effect isn’t entirely offset by doing the 30 minutes of exercise 3x a week or even by a near-daily exerciser: the problem seems to be prolonged sitting. The important thing may be for a person with a sit-down job to stand up every hour and move around some — provoke the body into a more physically alert state.

Anyhow, about 40 years ago, an idea that got big in Japan was that a person should try to get 10000 steps per day, which is a little less than 5 miles if the length of an average step is about 2.5 feet. I’ve been trying to do that since I got a pedometer Tuesday afternoon last week. I came up a little short the first full day with it, about 9750 steps. But since then I’ve been over 10000 every day and have a high mark of over 34000 last Saturday when I took a walk in the morning, then did a fair bit of walking cutting and hauling some wood for winter, then golfed in the afternoon (the round of golf was worth around 13500 steps).

It requires some commitment to get to 10000. To do it during the week, I need to do 3 short walks spaced throughout my workday. I also in between those walks use the bathroom, just as a way to have me at least stand up and move every hour or so. Then I need to do a walk after work to push me over 10000.

More anyhow, this seems to be inspiring me to work again at recovering the fitness and strength I’ve lost over the last 2 years. I find it somehow more relaxing to look at the pedometer and think, “Let’s get to 12,000.” Then it doesn’t matter how fast I do it, just take me and my thoughts and walk with them. It seems to have helped my insulin sensitivity too. Before the pedometer, I was using 22 to 24 units of Lantus for basal. I’m now down to 17 units. There also may be another metabolic effect happening too — when I first got going, I was having some trouble with my blood sugar plummeting during the walks. I would have to consume 20 to 40 grams of carbs to fuel walks of 30 to 60 minutes. But last evening I only needed around 10 grams to fuel a walk/run that went 1 hour and 15 minutes. That’s still more carbs than I used to need a few years ago, when if I had thing right, I could run for almost 2 hours without needing any carbs. But it’s a move in the right direction, if last evening was an actual change and not just some sort of weird outlier. I really hope though it is a sign I can get back to where I was a few years ago, feel good that I could go out and do a run and not have to worry that my blood sugar would plummet.

I also need to get that back if I do ever get myself motivated enough to put the training in for a marathon. It would just make it a whole lot easier if I’m not having to dump carbs into me for the whole 26.2 miles, but only need to do it over the last 10 to 13 miles or so.

As a point of comparison to how much a pre-modern era lifestyle person would walk, a study was done with a group of Amish in Ontario. In that study, the Amish men averaged around 18000 steps a day and the women averaged around 14000. An Amish person would be averaging over 6 miles a day on foot.

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Ahh, the shoulder. Still not fully healed, but slowly making progress and maybe the progress is picking up in pace. Earlier this year, I was able again to do a pull-up, although from the top I couldn’t lower myself, I would have to let go of the bar and drop to the floor. To hang on and drop would cause too much discomfort in the front of the shoulder. That has gone away and this week I found I can again do 2 pull-ups in a row. Nowhere near as many as I once could do, but it’s improvement. Still can’t do chin ups because there is too much discomfort, although I can now grasp the bar in the chin up position and gently ease myself down towards the bottom position. So that’s progress too. Maybe I’m in the home stretch, maybe inside of 6 months it’ll nearly all be forgotten. Pretty much only those who have suffered frozen shoulders will understand and know just how much I look forward to the day of having a fully functional arm and shoulder again.

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