How Good Does Exercise Make You Feel?

Another day, another feel good story concerning the benefits of exercise. Depressed? drive those clouds away with daily exercise. Having trouble sleeping through the night? Yep, exercise will help that. These and a few other beneficial claims come from regular exercise, maybe. I like to walk, feel guilty when I miss or have to miss a session due to illness or schedule conflicts. I am all for regular exercise, that’s why I spent a kings ransom to purchase the treadmill which is used in conjunction with regular outside walks, that will help cardiac condition.

Nearly every day I read something that espouses the benefits of walking, biking and running. The authors are sure to weigh in with plenty of expert wash, and why not. Still, not all experts are equal, much of what the author, and experts claim are wrapped up in marketing speak. Don’t let me dissuade you from reading such literature but look at the wording, and compare and contrast that to adverting claims. Each uses similar words and phrasing, if not identical phrasing. It stands to reason that they should–to a point. Often the crossover occurs in selling ideas, and merchandise.

The linked article above is a personal account. The author relates her past vigorous athletic training. At some point she decided to set that lifestyle aside, only to come back to it again and again. Good on her, it’s a happy read, and she knows by now how exercise benefits her. It’s tough for me to criticize her attitude or her writing, and I guess that there is a style that the publisher of her piece wants her to follow. Rather than take her to task about that, I will attack the genre.

Is Walking Really a Superpower?

You probably already know that walking is a very good way to get exercise. It’s Low impact, saving wear and tear on the joints, easy to do, and fun. Locomotion, being able to get to one place from another. It is bipedalism that led to humankind evolving the large brain we have and that also gave us the ability to think, and perform complex things. Walking, on two legs makes us unique in the animal world. But is it a superpower? I suppose in those terms, the importance it played in development it surely is.

According to Amy Fleming, regarding the matter it, walking, is a superpower, and she cites the work of Neuroscientist Shane O’Mara. Both appear to be locomotion enthusiasts, evangelists when it comes to spreading the gospel of locomotion.

Neuroscientist Shane O’Mara believes that plenty of regular walking unlocks the cognitive powers of the brain like nothing else. He explains why you should exchange your gym kit for a pair of comfy shoes and get strolling.

Those are some pretty heady claims, and he makes his case in his book In Praise of Walking. I haven’t read it, perhaps I will, I already enjoy moving about, and even if I didn’t, walking is for me, the best cardiac exercise. Biking and Swimming are listed also as being very good low impact methods of gaining the benefits of healthful exercise, though I can ride a bike, I am not a swimmer nevertheless, I like being in the pool. So walking is the best way for me to keep the ticker wound up and running.

I don’t, and quite frankly, cannot speak to the efficacy of the claims of Dr. O’Mara, I will say that the tone of the very well written article, is a bit too dear. There are limits to what it can do, it won’t regrow the hair I’ve lost over the years. There are, sadly, many people that cannot walk owing to injury, or birth defects. I used to take it for granted, being able to move about. That is until about a year ago when I was waylaid via a pulmonary embolism. Suddenly, walking became near impossible. I tired so easily, and could not walk for more than a few yards.

It’s been two years since then, and I am only now getting back on my feet. I welcome articles like the one referenced here, I just take them with a grain of salt.

Peloton Throws in the Towel, Issues Recall for All Tread+ and Tread Treadmills

The world is now safe, Peloton caves in and issues a recall. There is an old saying never underestimate the power of stupid in large numbers. A lesson that Peloton has learned and hopefully has taken to heart. One child has lost his or her life owing to more to bad parenting than anything else. However tens of other people have been injured while improperly using the machine as well. Ours is a society that feels it’s imperative to put ridiculous warning labels on just about everything, labels that instruct us how to and how not to use the product or the packaging it came in. I feel safer how about you. Good work Consumer Product Safety Commission. I see more money pouring into your annual budget for your quick action.

I for one would not be returning a perfectly fine, and expensive treadmill because some people failed to use their common, walking around sense. Neglected to take basic precautions, failed to read the owners manual etc. I shouldn’t be so hard on my fellow Americans. This is after all a country that saw fit to elect Donald Trump President, and then just for good measure, Joe Biden. Given the sentiment quoted by so many during election time, that being to choose the lesser of two evils, I often wonder what would happen if the voter(s) actually elected the greater of two evils.

Turns Out There is a Right (correct) Way to Walk

Here’s the article: Bad Walking Habits You Should Stop Immediately, Say Walking Experts. Expert is a word that is widely abused these days. It doesn’t take much to claim the title. After reading the slide show I have learned nothing of value. This is one of those articles that amounts to filler material. The need for content to fill empty space. Will you or I gain anything of value from this? I don’t think so. The important thing here is the dead give away that lurks in the first slide on how to walk, according to experts.

But if you’re taking brisk walks—which are key for experiencing the full benefits of walking for exercise and maximizing your calorie burn—you need to be sure to bend your arms more like a runner, advise walking experts.

I highlighted the word, this tells you that everything that follows is really up for grabs. It’s a term used in marketing not so much in science. If you are looking for confirmation that you are doing the right thing then by all means read on. I don’t anything here that will detract from the benefits of walking or for that matter maximize the calorie burn. Even though no small amount of research has been devoted to the subject of the “fat burning zone” in a workout. Which as you might correct suspect differs from person to person and changes over time.

Walking, at a moderate pace, set by individual tastes, will benefit your heart health, and help burn stored fat. The tips here if they work at all may result in burning a greater number of calories, but how much? Perhaps 15-20 maybe slightly more? I want to be careful here, how I go about walking is much different than many others. I mostly walk on a treadmill, or I walk with my 20 year-old daughter, far from walking slower with a partner, my daughter is always ahead of me by several strides. I have to work to keep up. So much for that being a bad habit. Not only does my daughter walk with me, she also accompanies my wife, when she walks. If walking with a partner is a bad habit, it’s deleterious effects are experienced by our daughter, and yet negated by the fact that she walks more than either of us alone.

If you have been walking for exercise or weight loss, it’s a pretty safe bet that you have, after a short while, discovered what works for you. If you enjoy reading what the “experts” say when they weigh in on the topic, by all means read it.

Wringing it Out

A day or two ago, came the time to find out what all the hype was about. The Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT made some fairly straight forward, and testable claims concerning its capabilities. It will incline 15% and obtain scorching speeds up to 12.0 MPH (19.31KPH). I set out to test it out. Let me be clear, I didn’t try to keep up with the belt by jogging or running on it. I merely set the speed and let it rip. The heretofore very quiet treadmill spooled up to its maximum speed and made noises not discernible at the lower, tamer RPMs. Rumbling, and thumping along as it reached warp factor 6. Once it was clear that it was going as fast as it was ever likely to go, I started inclining the beast. Until it also reached it’s maximum height. The machine appeared to handle it well though I suspect that it was slightly out of balance and that if it continued to run at the upper end of its performance envelope, it just might have catastrophic outcomes. I back it down to a reasonable pace, satisfied that it was capable of attaining the advertised maximums.

This is good news for those that will use the treadmill to its fullest. Even as a young man, I am doubtful that I could have kept up with the maximum speed. That’s not to say that other more athletic individual couldn’t make use of the top end velocity. Now that I am approaching retirement age, walking is more my speed.

Today was the day for measuring. One of the metrics that is used to determine my progress towards my goal. The waist line has shrunk by 2″ (5.08cm), my ability to walk a longer distance at my current high speed of 2.2 has also increased. Eventually I will quit using the manual settings, and use the calorie burn setting and select the lower or lowest level. At this juncture, level 1, is beyond my grasp. That is goal, pushing myself a little more each week. Not trying to knock myself out but trying to best the previous best, going a little longer without having to slow down.

My biggest worry at this point in my new found enthusiasm for exercise, is to avoid injury’s that could sideline me for several days. This has happened in the past and the results are not pretty. To date I have been working alternating hard days with lesser difficult days. Three days this past month I took the days of to recuperate. Pushing too hard too soon will most certainly derail the good I have done. Nevertheless, I had a good month in April, and I look forward to starting May off with a banner day. Going a little longer or breaking up the time on the treadmill into two sessions. Eventually, the plan is to expand the days workout into 3 parts, morning, noon and night. The time and distance to be set at some future date.

Exercise Apparel, How Necessary is it?

I get a laugh out of the “in” crowd. Those that have to have a specific, and upscale at that workout apparel. Are you going cycling? Fortunately there are some expensive outfits to show off how serious you take your biking. Hundreds of thousands of words written to drive home the point, you must be outfitted right so that you gain the most from your workout. I’ve read them and find they’re just full of $hit. Marketing pieces, they use phrases like-maximize the benefit, the workout you demand and so on. It’s all apart of the industry built up around the fitness craze. Shoes, shorts, leggings and other extraneous fashion wear, you want to, need to be seen right proper. How did people ever manage to get fit, or remain fit without observing the latest, and future trends?

The sales literature that touted the treadmill that I eventually bought leaned heavily on having the correct look. Attractive, young men and women, nattily attired, getting in their workout. Accept for the way I dress, why, that could be me racing at top notch on the treadmill. My first thought was who actually dresses like this? Of course millions of would be elite athletes do. Is it possible to attain your and my fitness goals without the latest in fashion? Will it take much longer to realize my goal if I am not properly dressed? If you believe the literature it might.

When friends of my wife learned about the treadmill purchase, two the ladies mentioned that I should get a pair of shoes that have not been worn outside. New shoes. There reasoning is sound, shoes that have been around the block accumulate foreign materials on the soles, materials that could damage the tread belt. Aside from that little tidbit, nothing else. Very good practical advice, the nurses in the cardiac rehab center also required clean shoes, preferably not street shoes, for using in the gym. Otherwise, comfortable, non binding top and bottom, no mention was made espousing the need for the latest work out attire. I suppose some bean counter will get wind of that, and sign a contract with a company marketing to make sure the correct cardiac enhancing clothing is recommended.

The new shoes is something I will purchase, I like the PUMA brand. (personal choice, not endorsing them). I have had several pair of Nike shoes, designed for the racquetball court. They too were very good, the running shoes not so good. Quality went south, corners were cut and the shoe just didn’t hold up, the bottoms became detached from the uppers. Readers of a certain age will recall the first Rocky movie. The first iteration, 1977-78 movie, the one with the rousing trumpet music at the beginning. The inspirational, if not unconventional training method employed by the main character, the drinking of the raw eggs, the slugging-tenderizing of the side of beef in preparation for the big fight. The penultimate moment, Rocky runs to the top of 72 steps leading to the top of the Philadelphia Museum of Art once there he raises his arms and dances a little. Good stuff. Do you remember what he was wearing? Of course you do, the gray sweat pants and matching top, coupled with an off brand of sneakers. Iconic isn’t it, the challenger, the charger making do with whats at hand. That is the kind of workout apparel that appeals to me. That’s all a person really needs. Good Stuff.

Grinding it Out

About a year ago, my cardiologist asked in a polite way, can you lose 10 pounds (4.35kg)? I answered of course it was possible. He proscribed cardiac rehab, and I attended. It was difficult, and I didn’t fare so well at first. Then the lock down transpired about half way through. I had to push aside the workouts. Eventually I completed the program but hadn’t come close to losing the 10.0 pounds. Worse, I still couldn’t walk more than 50ft (15m) without huffing and puffing. Walking up the two flights of steps in my apartment brought me to the brink of exhaustion. Doing that with two bags of groceries and I needed to strap on my CPAP to help me breath. This in not an exaggeration.

So, when I told the cardiologist I could lost 10 pounds I realized that, no I couldn’t just lose 10 pounds. What good would that do? It’s far to easy to put on weight, 10 pounds would mean I would have to take off 15 pounds and that would take some doing. Yes, I can and did eventually lose the 10 pounds, and the 15 pounds. He, the cardiologist might be proud of me. Even so, there is much more that needs to be done. That initial 10 pounds is nothing really. Couple that with the near universal fact that the first 5-10 pounds comes off fairly quickly, it also goes back on really quickly too. To get and maintain 10 loss much more weight needs to come off. And boy do I have the weight to lose.

The original purpose for my odyssey was and is to address my out of condition condition. To gain more lung capacity and strengthen the heart muscle. I began walking, at first with a cane, walking without one was too difficult on my hips. They felt as if they were being tied in knots. The cane helped that. When walking outside, I still take and use the cane. Over the next six weeks, I slowly began to realize some of the sought for benefits. I can walk more than a mile, and not collapse on the couch gasping for air.

The Horizon Treadmill 7.0AT enables me to walk even when the weather is not conducive to such efforts. April showers bring May flowers but I can do without all that moisture when a quick walks is what I want. One thing about walking in doors and on the Treadmill is that I am not pushing my considerable girth up and down hills. Nevertheless I am moving my arms and legs and that gets my heart pumping. It also makes it easier to walk at a consistent pace. Still, to get a full workout, I have to continue to walk off the treadmill, and experience the work of pushing my body forward. Walking uphill on a treadmill isn’t the same as trudging uphill with 100 extra pounds in tow. If I could suddenly lose the 100 pounds like taking off a belt that I had been wearing for a couple of hours, I would feel liberated, and not doubt be surprised at how easy it it to walk up that same hill. No huffing and puffing, so the treadmill has its limitations but also advantages. The weather is nice today, perhaps my daughter and I will walk around outside.

Modern Medieval Torture Device; The Treadmill

A day or two before the arrival of my treadmill news stories began appearing concerning the dangers of the Peloton treadmill. In fact the new story had been at least a month old by the time I read it. At least one child succumbed to his or her injuries suffered while in the vicinity of the treadmill. Where were parents?

The Consumer Product Safety Commission, after 39 incidences of injury, is demanding a recall of the Peloton Tread+. The CPSC states that such injuries do not occur with other models. Not that there aren’t injuries caused by unattended treadmills, just a different hazard pattern. At issue is the height of the Peloton above the surface on which it is used. That height appears to allow a child, a very young child to be drawn underneath the machine, and trapped.

Though I haven’t read further or in greater detail, initial writing indicates that the CPSC is warning users to stop using the offending treadmill. Which appears to be pandering, and fear mongering. Not every user has small children, still, they may have pets that could be injured. Most would agree that using a treadmill with small children or pets in the vicinity is reckless however, children are nothing if not clever. Attempts to keep children at bay while concentrating on using the treadmill is difficult. Hence the stern warnings given in the machine manuals. Peloton, as does Horizon treadmills makes no bones about keeping children, in the case of Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT, under the age 13 years old and younger away from the unit, and unplugging the unit when not in use. There are other steps that should be taken as well. Since there in no chance for a child to be any where near my machine, I have forgone memorizing them.

Where were the parent(s) while this was happening? While this machine was in use? What were the circumstances surrounding the incidences? It certainly incumbent upon the manufacturer to build a product that when used as directed, is safe. Peloton has done this, and the Treadmill+ is a fine machine. The parents or guardian, or sitter must not be passively involved in order to complete the circle of safety. If a recall is issued, I would have no problem telling the CPSC to shove it. But then again I don’t own a Peloton Treadmill+ or have small children. Thousands of these machines have been sold, the weak link here is the people that cannot be bothered to use it as best practices dictates.

Horizon 7.0 AT Treadmill

One week ago today (April 15, 2021) my treadmill arrived. This was the predicted arrival time, there were several caveats given as to why the delivery might not come of without a hitch. Nevertheless delivery was right on schedule. I didn’t begin using the contraption until Friday evening. I managed with the help of my wife and daughter to hustle the treadmill indoors and up 3 flights of steps, and even assembled. What remained was to lubricate the belt which I did Friday night after the evening meal. It all went off without a hitch, and I have used the tread everyday for 6 days straight.

First Impressions are lasting impressions.

I have said elsewhere what’s important, what quality this treadmill should possess. It should be a smooth running device. Not too loud, no extraneous noises, no bumps or thuds free of creaking and other such noises. As of day 6, all those conditions have been met. The device is very quiet, it runs smooth, not sudden starts and stops, no vibrations that shouldn’t be there, as if the machine was in need of repair work. I’m happy. When the time to purchase came the decision was to look for a upscale model. This isn’t the top of the line Horizon Fitness Treadmill, it is close third.

The construction is robust as I suspect is the case with the less expensive models. However, I paid a premium to get the bigger rollers, and a more powerful motor which, also has a longer belt. The belt length is for those that intend to use this thing for jogging and or running. Amongst those I am not one. Walking is it, and at that, moderate speeds are sought. Of the several models offered by Horizon Fitness, the more economical Go, line probably would have sufficed for my needs. Still, the day may come that I need to sell, or give it away. That’s where the financial outlay for the Studio will likely payoff. The top of the line Go series Treadmill was, at the time I made my purchase, the same price for the larger more robust 7.0 AT Treadmill, therefore it only made sense to opt for the more rigid construction and slight increase in weight.

First Impressions Horizon Fitness 7.0 AT

I love reading the promotional materials for products. It is after all propaganda. It’s meant to change and or create a new way of thinking about something or some one. Propaganda is marketing, and vice versa. Take for instance this little bit of marketing genius.

Foldable and affordable, SOLE’s F63 is the answer. This highly rated treadmill gives you the tough workout you demand with a price tag you’ll love.

Gives you the tough workout you demand? I am sure that is applies to many people that use or plan to use a treadmill. I had something else in mind. I’m not knocking SOLE’s treadmill. I could have easily purchased this on instead of the 7.0 AT. Lets say that as you are shopping you read the above, and it sticks in you head. “The workout I demand. There must be a whole, elite group of others that demand a tough workout.” i.e., I am part of a group that is different from other users. For my money, I want to raise my basal metabolic rate without blowing out my knee or back. A tough workout? It’s tough for me but I am a lightweight.

The 7.0 AT meets my needs straight out of the box. I wanted a quiet performer, no odd vibrations, squeaks. 4-5 days of use at it’s done all of that. Its not a high bar to set, it’s what I expected, and as usage increases, my expectation is for continued quiet, reliable performance. This heavy built machine is capable of absorbing much more punishment than I will be able to deliver.

The only thing I want to mention is the sound the belt makes as my feet make contact with it. A scrubbing sound. That’s because the belt is textured and brand new. I also drag my feet slightly as I walk. Hardly a complaint. Before I use it later today April 19, 2021 I am going to make a slight adjustment to the belt, it appears to be just slightly off kilter, to far to the left for my comfort. Something I fully expected to have to do.

Interesting, though I have owned device capable of Bluetooth, this is the first and to date the only device I have made use of that technology. The sound coming through the speakers is plenty loud, and sound quality is passable. Should the need be there in the future, a set of robust headphones could produce very good sound quality. In the past ambient sound from a radio, stereo was all I used. Back in the day, 11 years ago, when I watched TV, I would time my workout to an old favorite program. Podcasts are all the rage, and being the type of person to collect mp3s and edit them for the content I want, listening to podcasts will likely fill out my entertainment needs while I walk.

Like just about every other treadmill above a certain dollar amount, this one has a USB charging port, and stereo in and out ports. Should I decide to go old school by eschewing the Bluetooth. The center display, a 7″ LCD shows my progress as if I am walking around a 400 meter track which is about .25 miles. In the center of that track is a graph giving indications of the workout level I am on and that which is about to be encountered. Something that is pretty standard these days. There are 7 choices for preprogrammed programs, each program is also supplemented by the level of activity 1-15, level one, or two is good for me at this point.

As with many other models quick adjustments can be made by rolling the wheels on the handle bars. The left wheel controls the incline, and the right the speed. It’s also possible to program intervals into both of these controls and operate them via the push of a button located on the handle. Something I love, the heart rate monitor, and the ease of use. As a cardiac patient, this little bit of info in necessary to help keep me in my target heart zone. This doodad is also found on treadmills above a certain price, if you choose to purchase a treadmill, have this little convenience is a must. Although a belt attachment via Bluetooth is available, and necessary for the heart health option.

This model has a personal fan for cooling. I use it in combination with a oscillating floor fan. It doesn’t kick out much of a breeze but it’s better than nothing. After reading several personal reviews from actual users across the spectrum of different models, I have yet to see anyone describe the cooling fan as adequate. Then again no one has actually cursed the presence of it either.

I like the blue colored LEDs. Something that is so simple yet, red or green would work but not be as attractive. What is nice about this model, and other Horizon fitness models are the two cup, water bottle holders. Naturally they can be used as a place to safely put other items.

As for the folding aspect, it’s feather light when lowering the tread surface, going up is not so feather light. Both my wife, and 100lbs daughter are able to lift it, but neither really wants to. The space for the treadmill is dedicated for that purpose. It does have two sets of wheels but is a bit of a pain in the posterior moving it around, at least it is on when the mill is on the carpet.

This is no way meant to be an exhaustive review of my brand new, and brand new to me piece of equipment. I’ve used treadmills in the past though none as advance as the current crop of treadmills available for US$1000. As before, it’s worth mentioning a small disclaimer. There exists no relationship, except for the warranty, between Horizon Fitness, or any other company related to or owned by Johnson Fitness. One principle reason I bought this unit is that the USA headquarters for Horizon, Vision Fitness is Cottage Grove Wisconsin. About 20 miles from my hometown. That reason made the difference between this and the Sole Fitness F63 and other comparable units. These are my own words, and I am not being compensated in any way, shape or form by any of the companies mentioned whatsoever.

There is more to say but that is another post.