We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
A couple of years ago, my fatigue on the ski slopes and on a hunt trip in deep snow (backpack, heavy boots, firearm) let me know that I could either shape up or surrender to decay. It took me a while to commit to the effort to shape up. Why? Because it is hard and painful. I do not want to be a quitter in life, until it's time.
- Physical endurance. Young or old, we all want more of that and enjoy more of that. We do not want to feel lazy or tired and we want to look, and be, fit for life and ready for any adventures (eg climbing Mt. Washington on a crisp autumn day). Improvement comes from regular intense, interval cardio work, not from jogging, plain swimming, or walking - or it can come from intense forms of calisthenics. Cardio work is usually done with a mixed interval approach (2 or 3 of: swim, treadmill, running, elliptical, stairs, rower). It's not the time, it's the intensity that counts. That has to be complemented with high-rep resistance and/or body-weight exercises because endurance is a total body affair. Endurance is about high-rep and high stress, but not high resistance.
Normal Crossfit (not the competitive, high-weight form of Crossfit) is about fitness and endurance through intense and varied calisthenics instead of the tedious machines or the tedious pool. Part of the fun people find in Crossfit is that it's a regular group in which people get to know each other and cheer each other on regardless of their level.
It is generally thought that 20 minutes of intense cardio 3-5 days/week is good enough for cardiovascular fitness, but it is not enough for overall endurance improvement. 40-50 minutes of gradually-increasing intervals will increase endurance. Up the intensity of the intervals every week or two until it's enough and we are satisfied with our fitness level (but who can be?)
My Friday program is basically a Crossfit-type hour. It's a killer. Anytime I can do something, he raises the bar until I break. On Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, I do standard cardio intervals on treadmill, elliptical, and stair machine. If I can walk without stumbling, it hasn't been intense enough to be worth the time.
- Strength and power. Good things for life and for bones but only obtainable from making special effort with lower-rep heavy weight resistance exercises. We all want to attain and maintain our good normal strength as we grow up or grow older, but building strength takes special effort for those who do not do daily physical labor. Nature, indeed, wants to kill us after we have bred and ultimately will, but nobody wants to live life with the fitness of the gal behind the desk at the DMV - or of your accountant. Physically lazy is shameful and un-American. Sloth is one of the deadly sins.
It seems to me that most people want to be in good, fit shape but do not really aspire to greater strength and power if it takes blood, sweat, and tears. They want what is called "functional" fitness and endurance. That's basically what I wish to maintain or to improve, too but I need a bit more strength and power to get there. Just a few more months, I think. I do not want to get nutty about it but I would like to inspire others.
- "Toning." It's an aesthetic term, mostly used by females. It is not a physiologic term. It means more muscle, less fat.
- When friends discuss the exercise topic with me, I ask whether their goal is endurance, muscle power, agility, fat removal, mind-body discipline, or just to try to defeat aging. The answer is always "Yes."
- Structure and discipline. As in most areas of life, going to war against over-40 decay requires structure and discipline. Many, like me, need discipline and accountability to do the hard things (eg, paperwork, exercise, hedge-trimming, weeding). Some folks do the hard things automatically. God bless them.
You're obsessive-compulsive about this. Workout or just work until you get tired then quit and relax. The point is to get the most out of life - FOR YOUR AGE. No way I'm going to waste my too short days on earth busting my ass and making myself miserable more than I have too.