In today's November 1, 2009 newsletter . . .

  • Take a Hike (or do a few intervals)

  • Consider the Kettlebell

Take a Hike (or do a few intervals)

Years ago, I wrote a unique travel newsletter called Creative Drifting News. Its uniqueness had to do with the kind of travel that I did. I wasn’t married then and would take road trips with my dog to explore small towns, back-country, and go on hikes in the mountains. Luxury resorts were never part of my itinerary. We went all over the Western United States and parts of Canada. It was not the usual travel magazine fare, to be sure, but I loved it and for some reason the newsletter had a following.

The letter reported on my experiences and would announce the next planned excursion. Some subscribers were invited to go on the hikes. To keep it simple, I would set a time and date to be at a designated trail-head. If they wanted go, they just had to show up. That was as detailed as the planning got. Sometimes people would be there, but usually it was just me and my dog. It was okay with me, either way.

What all of this has to do with fitness is that I still love a good walk in the woods. Steve, my companion dog on those trips, passed away in 1999. Today my dog Tyra is my hiking pal, and I get most of my cardiovascular exercise from our walks. I don’t do any long distance running or jogging anymore, and have not done it for years.

When I don’t hike outside, I go to the gym and hop on a treadmill and do roughly 20 minutes of intervals. I can also do them on a stationary or recumbent bike. Right now, the treadmill is my indoor equipment of choice.

The intervals work as follows:

To warm-up, I do three to five minutes of walking at a pace of 3 to 3.5 mph.

  • This is followed by six one-minute fast pace intervals.
  • Between each one minute interval there is a 90 second walking pace cool down.
  • After the last interval, I do a 3 to 5 minute cool down at 3 mph and gradually slowing to a 2 mph pace.

    My interval format is more or less like one of Craig Ballantyne’s cardio workouts or Dr. Al Sears’ PACE program. The idea is to challenge your cardiovascular system for short segments; then bring your heart rate and breathing back down; then challenge them again.

    I like the variety of hiking up and down hills in the woods on most days and then doing the intervals on others. Variety, or cross-training if you prefer calling it that, defeats boredom and goes a long way toward preventing overuse injuries.

    P.S. Do you have trouble making yourself do cardio? A lot of people who pump iron dread it. A dog can change all that. Hiking, jogging or running with your best friend is a heart warming experience. Animal shelters have wonderful dogs that need homes. You can save a dog’s life and do yourself a great favor at the same time.

    P.P.S. Your physician should be your partner in your fitness lifestyle. Always get a physical and talk with your doctor before beginning an exercise program or making dietary changes.

    Consider the Kettlebell

    Kettlebells (or girva, as they are called in Russian) are traditional Russian cast-iron weights that look like a cannonball with a handle. They have become a popular exercise tool in the United States largely because of the enthusiasm and affective marketing by strength and flexibility coach Pavel Tsatsouline and kettlebell lifting record holder Valery Fedorenko.

    Kettlebell workouts are designed to increase strength, endurance, agility and balance. Both the muscular and cardiovascular systems are challenged with dynamic total-body movements. They are used by both men and women for fitness and weight loss training.

    Though kettlebell lifting competitions are relatively new in the United States, they have historical significance in other parts of the world.

    Recently, kettlebell training has been “discovered” by U.S. athletes and particularly mixed martial arts fighters . . .

    Read more here.

    You've probably heard about the tremendous benefits of weight training and how you can retain -- or even reclaim -- the attributes of youth . . . Discover the way with . . .

    Gray Iron: A Fitness Guide for Senior Men and Women

    The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter is a free publication sent twice monthly to our subscribers. Our purpose is to provide honest and realistic fitness information for people age 50 and above.

    Always consult with your physician before making dietary changes or starting an exercise program.

    Your comments or questions are always appreciated.


    Logan Franklin
    The Gray Iron Fitness Newsletter