Pumping Irony

Craig Cox, EL’s director of business operations and resident geezer, explores the joys and challenges of aging well.

Posts Tagged heart rate

Experience Life Magazine

Smugness and Denial

Last week, I received the results of my annual health check-up, a ritual that elicits a wondrous combination of smugness and denial. My score this year was 84 out of 100, down from 92 last year, but still not bad for a geezer whose butt spends a good portion of each day plastered in a chair.

The nice thing about these snapshots is that you can pretty much translate the results any way you like: blood pressure of 148/88? White-coat syndrome. Glucose reading of 107? Way below a high-risk level (126). Cholesterol at 269? Doesn’t mean a thing, since it’s the ratio of total cholesterol to “good” cholesterol that matters and at 3.2:1, mine is way under the 4.4:1 considered low risk for heart disease. And would you look at that Triglyserides number? Anything under 149 is considered low risk and I’m sitting here at 55, which is slightly lower than my resting heart rate (58), which along with my body-fat percentage (23.0) can only mean that I am, given my age, pretty much a freak of nature.

Gotta feel good about that.

The report is always accompanied by a call from a wellness coach, who is ready to help you address any problem areas that may have emerged. They ask you what you tend to eat during a typical day and how much exercise you get, so there is a completely understandable inclination to slightly embellish your description of reality. It’s just human nature; folks want to represent themselves in a positive light. Who’s going to tell a health coach that their favorite meal is a bag of Doritos washed down with a couple of Budweisers?

So, when my coach asked me about a typical day in the life of the plate in front of me, I talked up my yogurt and fruit breakfasts and mostly skipped over those Chipotle lunches and pizza dinners. I described in probably more detail than was necessary my 20-year meditation practice, my morning bodyweight/kettlebell workout, and the daily bicycle commute up that nasty hill on the other side of the river. Oh, and did I mention the weekly yoga class, my basketball league and tennis bouts with a certified USTA player (the formidable Baseline Machine)?

“Sounds like you’re doing an awesome job,” he replied, before I began back-pedaling, admitting that I try to get that morning meditation/workout in at least three times a week, the bike ride is really only about a mile, and I’m lucky if I make it to yoga three times in a month. TBM is actually a USTA player, but her serve is nothing to crow about.

“Awesome,” he reiterated, which for a brief moment made me feel like I should maybe be more forthcoming about my blood pressure and alcohol consumption, but the feeling quickly passed.

Experience Life Magazine

The Shock of the New

I awoke to a
gorgeous Minnesota winter morning — snow blowing sideways from the northwest
and 4 inches of the white stuff underfoot as I trekked to the office. The
combination of craggy ice and crunchy snow makes for a pretty good lower body
workout; I can already feel it in my hammies and glutes as I write this.


Of course, it could
be that the soreness in my rear extremities has more to do with my workout last
night at the gym. Recently, for reasons I can’t adequately explain, I’ve been
doing different stuff. Rather than climbing onto the Elliptical Death Machine
for 45 minutes of cross-country air-walking and then grunting through a half
hour of lifting on the resistance machinery, on Friday I inexplicably jogged a
mile on the dreadmill. Then, last night, I did 20 minutes of anaerobic intervals on the
stationary bike (six one-minute sprints interspersed with one-minute recovery
pedaling). I even kept track of my heart rate: 116 for the sprints; 102 during
recovery. After some stretching (!!!), I did a round of kettlebell swings
(which I was surprised to note pushed my heart rate up into the 140s) as well
as some dumbbell lunges and overhead presses. Then a half-hour of push-pull
lifting (various presses and compound rows) before heading home.


I’m not sure
what this means, frankly. It’s not that I was bored with my previous routine.
Or that I’m concerned that I’m not progressing toward my fitness goals (I feel
pretty good for an old guy). I was curious how my tweaky left knee would handle
some running and delighted that it seemed to hold up just fine. And interval
training of any sort is a great way to squeeze in a little more intensity into
a shorter space of time (though I didn’t work up much of a lather on the bike).
Plus, it was about time I got serious about stretching, right? It actually
seemed to do some good.


I’m sure I’ll
get back on the EDM soon enough. Meanwhile, today is a non-gym day, so I’ll
take the same route home after work tonight and thus chalk up a total of 80
minutes of moderate cardio and lower-body exercise. Not bad for an off-day, I guess. Plus, it keeps
things interesting. There’s nothing like the threat of sliding off a sidewalk into
the path of an oncoming car to keep you focused.