For a Christmas gift, my wife, Lora, got me a treadmill. She got me a treadmill primarily because I asked for a treadmill, and also because she lucked out and found someone who had an almost brand new treadmill but had seldom used it, and was willing to sell it for a fraction of its value. So now I have a treadmill.
Let me be clear about something. I did not want a treadmill because I am suddenly becoming health conscious, or because I want to lose weight, or because I needed something new on which to hang my clothes. I wanted a treadmill because I like to walk.
I do not know how much I weigh, other than the fact that by all actuary tables it is too much. So whether, in using the treadmill, I will actually lose any weight will only be known to me if my clothes start to seem baggy or if I notice that I must move the driver’s seat closer to the steering wheel.
Otherwise, the only time I know the status of my poundage is when I go to the doctor and the nurse insists on weighing me, after which she always makes one of two comments: “Oh, you’ve lost some weight,” or, “Hmmm, you’ve gained a few pounds.” It’s always a 50-50 bet which comment will be made, and is never connected to any concerted effort on my part.
The treadmill that I have is called a Pro Form 530i. Here are the features it includes:
• Segment time.
• Calories burned.
• Quickspeed function.
• Cool-air workout fan.
Here are the features that I use:
That’s it. I start walking at a slow speed, and then increase the speed to slightly less slow, and then do a “cool down” back to slow, and I do that until I get tired or bored, and then I turn it off.
Pace? Laps? Calories burned? Pulse monitor? Why would I want to know my pulse rate? It might frighten me into stopping.
The Pro Form 530i also includes a nifty safety device, which consists of a magnet attached to a string. The treadmill will not turn on unless the magnet is attached to the machine’s dashboard, with the other end of the string clipped to your clothing. The idea is that if you were to fall while walking on the treadmill, the magnet would detach from the machine, immediately causing it to stop.
I do not bother to attach the string to my clothing, so if I ever fall or die while using the treadmill, there is a chance that my body will be discovered crushed against the wall directly behind the machine. However, that chance is extremely small, since the top speed at which I tend to walk would in reality cause my limp or lifeless body to be deposited behind the treadmill as gently as a mother placing a sleeping infant into a crib.
I continue to believe that the cause of most serious injuries or even death is strenuous exercise. Almost everyone I know who has made a regular effort to remain physically fit through walking, jogging, running, biking or swimming has ended up in a cast or a sling or a splint or six months of rehab or dead along the side of the road.
Strenuous exercise is dangerous. Moderate exercise is only slightly less dangerous. Only very light, minimal exercise is somewhat safe, and, of course, no exercise at all is the safest course of inaction.
So, yes, I am taking a risk by engaging in minimal exercise. But as I said, I like to walk. I don’t like to walk because of any benefit I think I will gain from it. I simply enjoy walking.
Then why not just walk outdoors? Why get a treadmill? Because when you walk outdoors in Hillsboro, you have to deal with uneven sidewalks, crossing the streets, and dealing with dogs, most of which do not seem to be tethered or leashed (a growing problem in this town, by the way). Not to mention, rain, sleet, snow, cold or heat.
Why not walk any time you want in the comfort of your climate-controlled home, with the treadmill facing a television?
Some people like to walk or run with ear buds firmly ensconced and blaring out their favorite motivational tunes. What I find to be most motivational is timing my walk to the last 30 minutes of a good “Law & Order” episode.
Even if I feel like quitting, I am usually so engrossed that I keep walking — or at least strolling — until the verdict comes in, so I can see Jack McCoy’s smug look of victory or his slumped posture of dejection, accompanied by the similar reaction of one of his long line of good-looking assistant district attorneys, depending on what season you are watching.
Most motivational for me are seasons featuring Carey Lowell, and when she’s on the screen it’s another good reason for Lora not to be able to observe my pulse rate.
Gary Abernathy can be reached at (937) 393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.