It’s a new year – the time of year when lots of people are looking to goose their exercise and be more active. My father came up with an exercise program that anyone can try. It’s literally excuse-proof. You don’t need a gym membership. You don’t need any special equipment. You can do it at your own convenience, in your own home, rain or shine, even during the cold and snowy winter months. And if he can do it, you can do it!
My father will be turning 71 next month, and in the past few months, he had a couple operations. In October, he had one of his knees replaced, and, in mid-December, he had his other knee replaced. Getting one knee replaced is a big deal, and very painful, and getting both… well, it’s double the pain.
My dad had a lot of physical therapy. For the first couple weeks after each operation, a therapist was coming to the house, and when he became mobile enough, he started going to appointments at a nearby office.
In addition to the physical therapy, my dad wanted to start walking, as soon as he could. Because he didn’t know how far or long he could go before pain set in, and because it’s cold and snowy in Michigan this time of year, he devised an ingenious, simple solution: he started walking around the house.
As long time readers of this blog know, I’m a huge nerd when it comes to tracking data. I create charts and compile figures every chance I get. Now you’ll see that the apple (or shall I say nut?) doesn’t far fall from the tree!
My dad didn’t just start walking around the house. He calculated a route around the house, going from room to room, that equaled exactly 1/20th of a mile. It took multiple attempts – at least five or six – before he found a route that started and stopped in the same location and was an exact fraction of a mile. It winds around dining and coffee tables, up and down the hall, multiple times. Here’s the route he ended up with – I drew this map when I was home for Christmas:
He knows it’s 1/20th of a mile, because he measured it three times, using different means. I helped him the third time, and together, using a 100-foot tape measure, we got the most accurate distance: 272 feet. 1/20th of a mile is 264 feet. There’s a small discrepancy (8 feet), but it’s still pretty damn precise.
My dad’s goal is to walk a mile every day – 20 laps. He has a counter, much like this one (which costs $2.65 on Amazon), so he can keep track of his laps. He breaks the mile down into chunks, and will walk roughly 1/3 in the morning, 1/3 in the afternoon, and 1/3 after dinner. Some days, because of the pain levels, he didn’t make it the full mile, but he always knows how much he’s done.
I don’t see why anyone can’t develop a walking route in their own home, no matter your fitness level, even if it’s from one end of your apartment to the other and back. You can play music or have the TV on in the background, and you don’t need to be an exercise pro. When my dad first devised the route, he was using a walker. When I was home, he was using a cane. He moves at his own pace, at a speed that’s comfortable, and he stops when the pain gets too intense.
The only equipment he needed was a tape measure and a counter, and if you don’t have a counter, you can move dry beans, pennies or toothpicks from one pile to another to keep count. If you don’t have a tape measure in your tool box, borrow one from a friend, or guesstimate the distance by walking heel-to-toe.
See? It’s simple, it’s effective, and figuring out the route is a fun challenge! I haven’t talked to my dad in about a week, but I bet he’s still walking his route, and probably a lot faster than when I saw him last!
Keep it up, Dad!
I was curious how fast I could run one lap of his route, so my dad timed me, and I did 1/20th of a mile in 34 seconds.
Keep it up, David!