Thursday, April 30, 2015

Start Strong, Finish Strong: 2864.2 to 2879.2 Miles: Complete Segment 42

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Today's Weather

I discovered a shorter route. On the last leg, go into Belle Fourche, and then west on 34 to Wyoming. You could do an out and back from Belle Fourche. If you stay in a motel, stay on the south side of town to save miles.

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If anyone is planning to do a reality hike, I discovered a new route that heads east across South Dakota. This saves miles because later you won't have to go north to catch Minnesota. Send me a message if you'd like the GPS waypoints.

Completed Segment 42

Start Strong, Finish Strong

During my two-month break, I found I started to rapidly decline physically. Another couple months, and I would have been back where I started a year ago. Fortunately, recovery was fast. By decline, I mean I didn't feel as well, and I found walking a couple miles without stopping was difficult.

Start Strong, Finish Strong
In his book, Start Strong, Finish Strong: Prescriptions for a Lifetime of Great Health, Ken Cooper explained how to extend our healthy life, and possibly extend our years through a combination of diet, exercise and annual medical exams.

The curve above shows what happens to a person who is basically sedentary and has an average diet. They continue on a steady decline from age 20 until they die. They may not notice this decline without annual physical exams or a significant medical event. 

Start Strong, Finish Strong
Through exercise, diet, and annual medical exams to discover problems early, a person can raise their path of decline with age above the half-circle. 


Exercise will not reduce the effects of an unhealthy diet. I have my medical records from the 40 years ago to prove it. My cholesterol was high and so was my blood pressure. I was also gradually increasing my weight. All this, even though I was physically active. 

However, I'll address a simple exercise plan. In my opinion, Ken Cooper's best book on exercise was Aerobics, which he published in 1968. Just ignore the parts where he says it will cure everything. The plan itself is still valid. You can buy a used paperback on Amazon for a penny plus shipping.

It's based on a simple point table which you can see here. Get 30 points a week above your normal activity and you are doing good. Sixty a week is even better. Above that, the benefits haven't been measured. As you get older, add some strength training in the form of simple calisthenics or whatever you like to do.


I've seen amazing recoveries by people who pay attention to their diet. I'm not going to step in the middle of a diet controversy. What I will say is it's almost never too late to improve.

Saving Life for Retirement

It makes no sense to save for retirement if a person is going to blow it all on a medical problem. It doesn't take much with today's medical costs to lose a few hundred thousand dollars. If a person is planning for poor health by not taking care of themselves, they may as well be broke when it happens.

Time for Life

The body doesn't care if a person doesn't have time for proper exercise or if a person doesn't want to eat a proper diet. That's the reality and each person has to decide which curve they will be on for the rest of their life.

There really isn't any excuse for diet. The healthiest foods are also the cheapest foods per calorie. 

The good news is a person can get back to health at almost any point in their life until something catastrophic happens.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Introduction to Metabolic Equivalents (MET'S): 2842.2 to 2864.4 Miles: Entering Wyoming

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(Note: Display will stop while on dirt road)
Today's Weather

You may want to skip the dirt road and go into Belle Fourche depending on your timing, Then do an out and back to Wyoming from Belle Fourche. The road to Wyoming has wide shoulders and looks to be in good condition.
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Entering Wyoming

Wyoming is the last of the Western states. The route just crosses the border and returns to South Dakota.

Metabolic Equivalents (METS)

Metabolic Equivalents are a way to compare the intensity of different exercises. If you'd like the long story, read this article.

One MET is the amount of energy in calories you use while at complete rest. You can calculate it using this calculator. The answer will be in calories used in 24 hours while at rest. If you are interested in losing weight, divide the answer by 1,440 which is the number of minutes in a day.

If you'd like to know how many calories you burned during exercise, you can use this table. For instance, standing is 1.3 METs.

Assume my base number of calories used is 1,650, I burn 1,650/1440 calories a minute or 1.15 calories a minute. While standing, I'd burn 1.49 calories a minute while standing. For those tracking calories recognize you are only burning 1.49 - 1.15 additional  calories a minute or .34 calories a minute. Most exercise equipment does not make this adjustment and overstates the number of additional calories used.

Higher Math

Those who are proficient in spreadsheets could easily design one for their normal activities. Fitbit calculates the METs for walking and other activities that mainly involve taking steps. You can enter other exercises besides walking. It will automatically calculate activity calories. Warning: These include the "at rest" calories, so it overstates the benefit.


METs are a difficult to use without a calculator. There are many online. It's not my favorite method for fitness purposes. I prefer the Aerobic Point System. For 65% of the cardio benefits possible, earn 30 points a week. 60 points a week gets about 85% of the benefits. Each Aerobic point is worth about 40 extra calories. For example, one mile in 20 minutes burns an additional 40 calories.

The harsh truth: It takes about 90 miles of walking to lose one pound a week if a person eats the number of calories equal to their base calories. This includes random steps during the day. Aside from the physical aspect, it takes lots of walking to lose weight. 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Back after a Break: 2826 to 2848.2 Miles: 4/28/15

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Animated Street View
Today's Weather

It's still flat, but at least there are two curves in only 28 miles. It doesn't look like there is any water available. Stealth camping is sketchy.
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Took a Break

I started a new proofreading business on 12/30/14 and ended up taking a three-month break from walking. Yuck. It seemed like I lost all my fitness, but it came back quickly during April. Now I'm back to walking enough each day to continue the virtual journey.

It was too easy to lose motivation one day at a time. Glad it didn't end up lasting for a few years. I've rededicated myself to making the long morning walk a priority in my life. 

Weather Success!

Except for possibly being stuck in northern Texas for a week in February, the plan to leave in the middle of March was perfect! The beginning of April would probably work. Each year is different, so this won't be the case every year.

Training Charts

After trying several different cyclical training methods, I found none of them were any better than walking based on how I felt each day. What seems to work best is tracking my trailing seven-day miles and hitting the range for my fitness level. Now I'm in the mid-60's and working my way back to the mid-80's. It shouldn't take long.


I'm "out of shape" for blogging, too. During the break, I learned some useless training theory to write about. Not because it's better, but because other people think it's better and you will run across it in your reading. I'll start reviewing some of that tomorrow.