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A path to reverse leg and arm muscle atrophy


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I (77 years old) have been ridiculously idle in the past two years. I blame Covid, lack of drive / laziness. Previously I walked everywhere, hiked and was out and about. My wife, is a stay at home girl, except for shopping. Anyway, about a year ago I wasn’t able to get up into a Baht bus, even with that lady pushing my butt. This week I am on a visit to her family’s ti baan, all entrances have wooden staircases. Now I need a rail on one side and a hand on the other. People help me get up from the floor. It’s time to get back in shape.

 

I have spoken about my issue, briefly, a year ago to my doctor at a well known Pattaya hospital. He said exercise (the gyms were closed, too darned hot many months, put it off). I went recently again and he just nodded his head. 
 

Is there a specialist here in Pattaya or in Bangkok I could visit? In these Covid days, is it safe to go to a gym? Should I get an elliptical machine for my condo? Personal trainer-motivator?

 

looking forward to the comments. Thanks.

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Cross trainers are good (I think that's an elliptical trainer).  I'm not sure how good they are for building muscle, but they must strengthen your body generally.  Certainly good for cardio and low impact on your joints.

 

Also kettle bells are good for home workouts.  Take a look at them.  Should be able to do some squat style lifts and presses with those.  They're pretty versatile and come in a range of weights/sizes.

 

You could maybe include a small step thing.  I'm not sure what they're called, but you can get plastic steps that are specifically for exercise.  I'm sure you've heard of step aerobics?  You need to make sure you're in a safe area in case you have a balance issue mid-workout though.

 

But you need to be motivated and prepared to put the work in.  Until you build your strength up, it's going to be hard.

 

(I'm not an expert and still relatively young, but I've been a fairly keen gym goer for years.)

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You can try to get a physio, they're very good at getting you to excercise the right way for you (adapt to your age and ability, and build you up at the right speed).

 

There's quite a lot of private physio services.

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Bodylastics or similar resistance bands. Excellent for gradually gaining strength and flexibility. Lazada do them, only a couple of hundred baht and can easily be used at home..

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There are countless exercises you can do in the comfort of your home. The elastic straps attached to a door frame allow dozens of variations. Many YouTube workouts. No excuse, other than sheer laziness. Beyond 60, we pay a huge price for a lack of fitness. All downhill, without it. 

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3 hours ago, NewGuy said:

looking forward to the comments. Thanks.

As Lacessit posted , HasFit , but I used this one after an injury layed me up. , as strenuous as you like and at your speed . 

 

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1 hour ago, spidermike007 said:

There are countless exercises you can do in the comfort of your home. The elastic straps attached to a door frame allow dozens of variations. Many YouTube workouts. No excuse, other than sheer laziness. Beyond 60, we pay a huge price for a lack of fitness. All downhill, without it. 

good simple advice........don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows ,,,,use it or lose it

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, BangkokReady said:

Cross trainers are good (I think that's an elliptical trainer).  I'm not sure how good they are for building muscle, but they must strengthen your body generally.  Certainly good for cardio and low impact on your joints.

I'm a fan of elliptical trainers. I have one it home and use it regularly. At the moment that's when it's raining and I don't fancy my usual daily walk! They are also very good for doing a High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) Routine on.

 

Edited by Moonlover
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Posted (edited)

it's no mystery you LOSE muscle as you get older.   You can lift a bottle of water 100 times while watching YouTube, or even just contract your muscles for 10 seconds.  then walking.   

 

I personally think the key is abdominal strength.   the core.   unfortunately, I'm not sure what to recommend .....  if you have a strong core, legs and arms will follow.  but I'm not sure it's the other way around.

Edited by Iamfalang
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Posted (edited)

just walking is good enough. Use walking stick when steps, uneven pavements.

When too hot or raining walk corridors in your condo.

Try to use condo staircases, but at your own pace, as slowly as you need. Ask your wife for assistance. Possible get knee pads to protect from fall injuries. 

Yes, group exercises are good for motivation. Even just one another senior for companionship and support.

Swimming also good because you don't overheat, no injuries from exercising, gentle for joints. 

Edited by internationalism
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Your doc was indeed correct both times, a year ago and recently.


It would appear you weren’t very fit even before the two years’ sabbatical. Walking everywhere and the occasional hike mean little. You’ll even hear people claim that housework is exercise, ‘cause it’s exhausting.🙂 Well, the unfit always say that sort of thing to fool themselves and avoid any real exercise. Exercise means consciously exercising to achieve the explicit purpose of being fit. And no, walking is not "enough," laughable idea.


Motivation can be overrated, BTW. It comes and goes, but discipline is key. You may have enough to start anyway. I’ve exercised for decades without particularly enjoying it. I always have something else I’d prefer to do. Doesn’t matter, though; I want the benefits of fitness, need to fight sarcopenia, don’t want to lose what I have and ever start over. Starting is harder than just maintaining--fortunately, since the maintenance phase lasts a lot longer.


Exercise has to be a priority with a schedule that you adhere to. It’s all on you, too, entirely your own responsibility. Nobody else cares what you do. In fact, most other people are actually bad influences, especially a partner who isn’t into a healthy lifestyle.


Now, exercising at home offers you the advantage of watching movies or listening to music while you exercise to make it less boring. Me, I’m looking forward to watching the next new Star Trek episode this evening while I do intervals on my treadmill--in the air conditioning. Yeah, at home the air conditioning ensures “it’s too hot” is no excuse.


You can certainly improve your physical condition if you’ll do it. But all we know is that you’re weak, no other details about your condition.

 

Most advice about starting an exercise program begins with “check with your doctor” about what’s safe for you to do. You saw a doc recently, but a heart specialist? A lil' echocardiogram, in which many of our members place such great faith, is actually pretty useless. I’d get a full workup on your cardiovascular system. Maybe a stress test, CAC scan, get professional advice on what and how much you can safely do at this point. Something, definitely.


So maybe you could start w/ at least a 15 min walk per day, work up to 30, and speed up the pace as you feel stronger. An elliptical trainer sounds all to the good, would help the upper body a bit too. You could of course swim, but I've never seen any old out-of-shape guy keep it up. I got one to sign up and pay for a year's membership at a  Y for the water aerobics program popular with overweight women. At least he could do that. Never attended a single session. Oh, and died early.


If you get serious and succeed in doing that for a few months, then you could start resistance training, which you absolutely need. Can take many forms, needn’t take a lot of time, needn’t destroy your joints, doesn’t require a gym. It’s harder than just doing that ol’ long slow “cardio” though.


Come back here when you have some real progress to show and feel confident you can handle more.

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don't you contradict yourself?

 

"And no, walking is not "enough," laughable idea."

"So maybe you could start w/ at least a 15 min walk per day, work up to 30, and speed up the pace as you feel stronger. "

"You could of course swim, but I've never seen any old out-of-shape guy keep it up. I got one to sign up and pay for a year's membership at a  Y for the water aerobics program popular with overweight women." - if women do it, also guys do it. That's the way - get long and unlimited pool exercises program at good discounted rate, so there won't be financial burden to pay weekly/monthly. Also doing exercises in groups, and with the opposite sex, are adding some social motivation to exercising.

 

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My friends really seem to enjoy the condo pool.  It is good exercise and pleasant in this hot weather.  I also see lots of people enjoy a walk on the beach at dusk.  

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, internationalism said:

don't you contradict yourself?

Not at all, as I'm clearly referring to cardio work (such as it is) as preliminary before starting the resistance exercise he really needs to build up muscle strength. If he actually does that successfully, and then it turns out that's all he can make himself do, something is of course better than nothing.

 

One of the best points about the water aerobics class was that the exercise was relatively strenuous for the (low) fitness level of the participants, meaning real exercise, not some typical, mostly useless, leisurely paddling. More informally, some find it helpful to walk with a partner to help supply inspiration to keep up a brisk pace, not just stroll and ogle women.

Edited by BigStar
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Remember that the best exercise regimen is the one you can stick to, and that is very, very individual.

 

Aiming too high can be counterproductive if it leads you to give up. 

 

Personally I have found phone app that monitors my daily steps and setting targets for that to be very helpful. In order to meet the target, most days I have to do some purely-for-exercise walking as daily activities alone are not enough. Don't set the target too high at first  though as that will discourage you.  For me, 5,000 step minimum a day has been just right - it is more than I would get most days without special effort but still very achievable.

 

For muscle mass some resistance training may be important. Whether at hoem, in a gym, with or without a trainer is up to you.

 

For older peopel flexibility is quite important and easily lost (which in turn will make it harder for you to be active). For that you need stretches.  You will quickly get to know which areas are stiff and need to be stretched daily to main=tain full range of movement.

 

 

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1 hour ago, Sheryl said:

Remember that the best exercise regimen is the one you can stick to, and that is very, very individual.

 

Aiming too high can be counterproductive if it leads you to give up. 

 

Personally I have found phone app that monitors my daily steps and setting targets for that to be very helpful. In order to meet the target, most days I have to do some purely-for-exercise walking as daily activities alone are not enough. Don't set the target too high at first  though as that will discourage you.  For me, 5,000 step minimum a day has been just right - it is more than I would get most days without special effort but still very achievable.

 

For muscle mass some resistance training may be important. Whether at hoem, in a gym, with or without a trainer is up to you.

 

For older peopel flexibility is quite important and easily lost (which in turn will make it harder for you to be active). For that you need stretches.  You will quickly get to know which areas are stiff and need to be stretched daily to main=tain full range of movement.

Ah. A count of steps does indicate one has at least engaged in movement, obviously better than no movement at all. But the cardiovascular benefits may be quite minimal. Hence

 

The American Heart Association recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise or 75 minutes of vigorous activity per week.

 

Moderate intensity is key, exercise, not just movement. A recent study somewhere affirmed the recommendation applies to seniors. This article defines and explains: How to Get a Great Workout with Brisk Walking.

 

So this is the goal to strive for. I suggested the OP start modestly--after getting medical clearance. Two years of inactivity, probably not very fit previously, possible underlying conditions, and possibly overweight--hmm. Details have been sparse.

 

To prevent one from slacking and imagining that a comfortable stroll is in fact a workout, a fitness monitor that tracks heart rate is most useful. Lazada has one that looks OK here, and Aliexpress here. A Fitbit? Not at this level.🙂

 

But I would imagine the OP won't start now working on flexibility, as his main concern is with muscular strength or, more generally, functional fitness (like climbing into a baht bus🙂). If he manages to start making some progress, then stretching etc. should follow. Be great if he could talk the wife into their taking a yoga class together.

 

But beyond flexibility and stretching, there's mobility. Mobility adds in strength and control to meet daily movement challenges, notably not falling down, the scourge of seniors. Steve Maxwell (fitness guru) illustrates the impressive degree to which mobility is possible for trained 70-year-old, with obvious anti-aging implications: Steve Maxwell: Mobility Conditioning Circuit.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi BigStar, I jumped on the ‘fitness wristwatch’ and it just came in. Apparently if I complete the online login the info is in Spanish, and on the watch itself the icons are in Thai. Maybe too good to be true.

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As Sheryl said, you have to find something that you can stick to, that's the most important bit. If you pick the theoretically most effective one but you hate it, it won't work long term.

The more muscles you use while doing whatever you do, the better.

Walking is of course the easiest one because you can do it everywhere anytime, but when walking you only exercise your legs a bit, and it's also not much resistance. Running would also involve your upper body to some degree, but I guess you can't run if you can't even make it up stairs.

Riding a bicycle, basically the same as walking.

Elliptical trainer isn't bad, it does involve your upper body as well, but the movement is of course quite fixed because you follow the movement pattern of the machine.

Swimming would probably be one of the best exercises for you, it involves the whole body, by adjusting your swim speed you can adjust the resistance, also easy on your joints.

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2 hours ago, NewGuy said:

Hi BigStar, I jumped on the ‘fitness wristwatch’ and it just came in. Apparently if I complete the online login the info is in Spanish, and on the watch itself the icons are in Thai. Maybe too good to be true.

I linked to a couple at random on Lazada and Aliexpress. Far as I know, Lazada has Thai or English login forms. On Aliexpress, you choose your language from the dropdown at the top right:

 

image.png.3fbc1b3fe609d05d2daabe25fb5b6ede.png

 

 

On the watches themselves you may choose the UI language from a settings menu. The Lazada example specs say:

 

Wisebrave/watch UI languages Messaging support: English (default), Chinese, Traditional Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Italian, Russian, Czech, Portuguese, Turkish, Greek, Vietnamese, Thai, Arabic, Polish and Dutch

 

So the user manual w/ the watch would explain how to find the menu.

 

A super cheap fitness watch, on the other hand, may have no options and perform rather poorly.

 

So if you're making a commitment here, go for better quality, one that you'd also not mind using as a standard watch as well, except for the (sigh) recharging.

 

Besides the monitoring during exercise, the watch may be somewhat inspirational. At random times, but notably upon awakening, you look and note that you're BP, HR, and blood oxygen's good. Ah.🙂

 

Astute members will observe, very shrewdly, that a fitness watch isn't as accurate as dedicated instruments. True, but indicative nonetheless, and the HR's pretty spot on.

 

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I do well with Lazada. My difficulty is pairing the watch with my iPad. I looked up Huawei Oppo instructions. I downloaded the only Huawei app that Apple shows. I turned on Bluetooth. I tried to pair with the watch. A six digit code came up on the iPad but the watch didn’t give me an opportunity to enter that code. iPad dropped the watch link to be. The online instructions said after linking the watch to it I could choose its language and  change default settings. So, since I can’t read the watch, I can’t find its Bluetooth section. Ugh.

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Posted (edited)
14 hours ago, NewGuy said:

I do well with Lazada. My difficulty is pairing the watch with my iPad. I looked up Huawei Oppo instructions. I downloaded the only Huawei app that Apple shows. I turned on Bluetooth. I tried to pair with the watch. A six digit code came up on the iPad but the watch didn’t give me an opportunity to enter that code. iPad dropped the watch link to be. The online instructions said after linking the watch to it I could choose its language and  change default settings. So, since I can’t read the watch, I can’t find its Bluetooth section. Ugh.

Oh, that's the difficulty. OK, first stop would be your wife, a stay at home girl usually nearby, to help w/ translation. Then there are the general phone vendors and repairers who'll likely have someone to assist. Finally, you got the Apple stores. I don't have any Apple products, but my 83-year-old friend who has an iPhone never messes around: he makes a beeline to the iPhone vendor in the nearest shopping mall. In his case the staff there have always been most helpful.

 

In the worst case it may not be too late to return it? You can mail it back to Lazada at a 7/11, conveniently. Good luck. I trust this'll get sorted out, and you'll find the watch to be a useful little item to help in your journey towards better fitness.  

Edited by BigStar
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A "lazy" guy near here

hires a local gal 

to call/come by and rouse him

for a walk w/ her at 7AM daily.

B100.

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If you can't sort out the watch there are some free apps you can download to your mobile phone. It does mean you'll need to carry the phone with you, but that can be sorted.

 

One point I would like to make for all the people saying things like "you just need to do it" "it's sheer laziness" and the like:  people are very, very individual   in their physical make up and in their response to physical activity and exercise. 

 

Many people get an endorphin rush from exercise, it makes them feel good - if not during then at least afterwards. Most of the gung-ho fitness folk are in this category. What they do not realize is how much of their ability to engage in and continue all these fitness activities is owed to genetic luck and that it is much, much, much harder for people who are differently constituted.

 

For other people, exercise brings nothing but sweat, fatigue and boredom. Of course in the long run there are benefits, but that takes weeks, and out minds and bodies are not built to respond to consequences that take that long. We can intellectually understand, but our unconscious mind and body do not readily respond to what out conscious mind has rationally concluded. They respond to what they feel, and what they feel from exercise is unpleasant, so  the natural impulse is to stop or not do it.  Of course such people still need exercise, but the amount of will they have the summon to do it is vastly more than many people can comprehend.

 

I am in this latter group and I find one has to come up with "tricks" to coax oneself into being more active. Apps that track your activity against a goal that you set, and give encouragement (stars etc, notices that are are close etc) do help.  My conscious mind knows it is silly since I myself programmed the thing and it's just an app, but the unconscious & body like receiving such messages and become more cooperative.

 

Finding ways to combat boredom are also important for such people. Simply varying one's route a little  while walking or whatever can help.  These past few weeks I have been doing office work 10 hours a day, the only place possible for walking has been hallways at the office and in the hotel. Walking back and forth briskly in the hall is possible for only a short while before my mind and body rebel at the boredom, but for some reason simply going up or down a flight and doing it there (even though it is basically the same) helped. When I'm at home I do brisk walking up and down by 100 meter private drive from the main road(which I have lit with solar lights so can easily do it after dark, when it is cool out) and when boredom sets in I switch to circling the house a few times, until boredom forces me to stop then I go back to the road, etc. The body and unconscious mind rebel at repeating the exact same thing over and over, but just a small variation will often satisfy enough to keep going. You get the idea.

 

I also have found that it is important to identify and "erase" all ingrained habits that minimize activity. There can be a lot of them, present for years:  short cuts we  developed to be energy and time efficient,   often leftovers from a previous time when economizing time and activity was necessary for our work. Now that we are older and retired, there is no need to do this and it works against being active and fit. For example:

  • people living in 2/3 storied houses have often gotten into the habit of combining errands before going up or down the stairs. We put things on the stairway and wait until there are several that we need to carry up, etc. ---> "erase" that habit and start going up and downstairs every time you think of something that needs it.  You will quickly multiply the number of times you go up and down stairs, and since you will still be doing each trip for a reason, your mind & body won't object much. (If you don't have stairs, even walking to a different room of the house can be similar idea)
  • nearly all of us instinctively look to park in the closest spot at mall or other place, even if it takes us a while driving around the lot to find one.-------> "erase" that habit/idea and park in the first spot you see that is OK shade wise, no matter how far away it is.  You'll get more walking in and save time finding a spot.

And many, many more. Start by becoming aware of all the habits you have developed to minimize movement and "erase" (unlearn) them. The great thing about this is that the increased activity will still be purposeful i.e. part of an activity that has an obvious short term  goal, so the  mind and body readily accepts, whereas they deeply rebel against "purposeless" movement (which is what exercises seem to them to be...and not only purposeless but boring and even painful).

 

 

 

 

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On 5/29/2022 at 12:09 PM, Sheryl said:

One point I would like to make for all the people saying things like "you just need to do it" "it's sheer laziness" and the like:  people are very, very individual   in their physical make up and in their response to physical activity and exercise. 

Gary Taubes makes a similar point in a recent book w/ regards to diet books. They seem written by slim people for whom dieting isn’t difficult for fat people for whom it IS difficult.


So then, obviously, the key is to find some more suitable approach that works.


Natural athletes can only be envied by us average people. Still, very average people are often successful in achieving physical fitness. I know, as I’m one of them. No genetics in my favor, never an athlete, never particularly enjoyed exercising.

 

On 5/29/2022 at 12:09 PM, Sheryl said:

Many people get an endorphin rush from exercise, it makes them feel good - if not during then at least afterwards.

Well, yes, an endorphin rush is only for the already fit after prolonged exercise. No one is expected to enjoy such as a rank beginner. I certainly didn't.

 

On 5/29/2022 at 12:09 PM, Sheryl said:

For other people, exercise brings nothing but sweat, fatigue and boredom. Of course in the long run there are benefits, but that takes weeks, and out minds and bodies are not built to respond to consequences that take that long.

WEEKS! We wish. Let’s make that months. L-o-n-g months!


Well, our bodies had to evolve to respond to consequences that take that long, otherwise the species would have died out. The consequences are, in time, the beginnings of physical fitness. Then exercise becomes easier to do, feels much better to do than before, and starts to reduce the dependence on meds.

 

On 5/29/2022 at 12:09 PM, Sheryl said:

We can intellectually understand, but our unconscious mind and body do not readily respond to what out conscious mind has rationally concluded. They respond to what they feel, and what they feel from exercise is unpleasant, so  the natural impulse is to stop or not do it.  Of course such people still need exercise, but the amount of will they have the summon to do it is vastly more than many people can comprehend.

True, but this is the normal response of the unfit. So fat people don’t readily respond to what the conscious mind tells them about the need for dieting. That’s a hormonal response to the condition: a symptom. Paradoxically, we eat too much because we’re fat, not fat because we eat too much.


Every school kid feels the same way about his studies or his music lessons. Parents offer sufficient motivation, LOL. Latterly it really has to be matter of faith. Faith, based on the science, the lab reports, the scan of all that visceral fat you’re carrying around, and countless testimonials--until a good deal of unpleasant effort slowly results in real progress.

 

Yep, it's harder the older you are when you start, just as the fatter you are, the harder it is to diet. Best to start as young (and slim) as possible, though anytime's good. I waited until at age 28 I found myself awed and shamed by a lithe girlfriend who could run a mile around the neighborhood park, including up the hill. Running a block just totally wore me out at the time.


Starting slowly but consistently and building up over time is the key. Do more as it becomes less difficult. That's how I started. This takes into account different levels of fitness and willpower.


Truth to tell, serious exercise will always be difficult. If it isn’t, it isn’t optimal. As P. D. Mangan, 67-year-old fitness guru, former skinny nerd microbiologist, says, Anticipating doing my workouts evokes some dread in me, and I want to keep it that way.

 

But nobody fit ever says, “Jeez, I wish I hadn’t spent that time and effort to get into this good condition.” No obese person who’s achieved normal weight on a sustainable diet ever says, “Jeez, sure would like to be obese again.”

 

On 5/29/2022 at 12:09 PM, Sheryl said:

I am in this latter group and I find one has to come up with "tricks" to coax oneself into being more active. Apps that track your activity against a goal that you set, and give encouragement (stars etc, notices that are are close etc) do help.  My conscious mind knows it is silly since I myself programmed the thing and it's just an app, but the unconscious & body like receiving such messages and become more cooperative.

Whatever works, eh. I like listening to music and watching movies and series. Not boring, but entertaining, and distracting from the effort being exerted. I do some resistance exercise using timed static contractions, and for those I use an interval timer. I count along with it at times, can't wait for the "ding!"

 

I envy those who can enjoy playing some sort of regular sports.

 

On 5/29/2022 at 12:09 PM, Sheryl said:

Finding ways to combat boredom are also important for such people. Simply varying one's route a little  while walking or whatever can help.  These past few weeks I have been doing office work 10 hours a day, the only place possible for walking has been hallways at the office and in the hotel.

True. Now it’s amazing what you may observe that you’d never notice otherwise merely by walking, jogging, or running. So Thoreau pointed out ironically that he’d “travelled a good deal in Concord” with far greater insight than to exotic climes. He varied his routes.


I’d note that walking is hardly the only form of exercise and of cardio in particular. One can have a great workout in one room without going anywhere. Youtube has countless bodyweight routines that take little time, and for beginners. Exercise bikes take up little space. Resistance bands and/or a TRX are highly portable, too. I take along my TRX when traveling. You can use an anchor point to affix either bands or TRX to any door.

 

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