The Great Exercise Debate

Changing habits is difficult – and there are a lot of things to tackle when shifting to a Lo-Co lifestyle.  First you have to find and plan low cholesterol meals.  Then find time to shop for ingredients. Then rearrange your workday to start cooking, oh, before 6pm.  Then actually cook the planned meal & an alternate kid-friendly choice (I have already given up on 1 meal).  Oh, and on top of all that, the two I’m struggling with the most: exercise daily and magically developing the willpower to avoid – insert your vice here – Phish Food ice cream.

Again, I’m back to WHY do I have to exercise daily?  I just can’t seem to do it – even though I have an elliptical 3 count’em 3 steps from my bed.  And my husband manages to work out every day (which should be inspiring, but frankly is just annoying).

So I keep hoping that understanding WHY IT WORKS will help me get motivated to exercise daily.  Hasn’t yet, but still I search.  Yes, I know – echoes of the Go Lo-Co Pantry Re-Org Project (read procrastination technique) are ringing loud and clear.

Nevertheless, I found an interesting factoid put out by The American Council for Exercise (LOL, right?)  To lower cholesterol, you need to burn at least  1,500+ kcal/week:

In general, for exercise to significantly lower cholesterol levels, a relatively high volume of exercise is recommended (e.g. 1,500 kcal or more per week). In 12 to 16 weeks this volume of exercise can reduce total cholesterol by 10­ to 20 percent. Fifteen hundred calories expended during exercise is equivalent to about three to four hours per week for the average unfit person performing moderate intensity walking, swimming, walk-jogging or cycling.

Exercising 3-4 hours of exercise per week thing would be daunting – but I decided it doesn’t apply to me, as I’m pretty fit already.

Too bad rationalizing doesn’t reduce cholesterol.

The real reason, though, that the ‘3-4 hours/week’  doesn’t apply is simple: since my elliptical reports calories burned after every workout, I can measure it ‘exactly.’   The 28 minute program I do represents roughly 3 miles and 300 calories per workout.  Assuming 1 kcal = 1 elliptical calorie, then to burn 1,500 kcals in a week, I need to do 5 of my regular elliptical workouts every week.

5, not 7.  I like that math.  Too bad I’m only at about 3/week right now.

Oh, and still eating that Phish Food.  Notice how I didn’t deal with that other big problem?  I’m not strong enough for that topic yet.

P.S.  A shout out to my friend Rose (who does exercise daily, sigh) for this post’s inspiration and title.

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2 thoughts on “The Great Exercise Debate

  1. Three or four hours of exercise a week didn’t sound all that daunting, until you pointed out that 28 minutes on an elliptical only burned 300 calories. I wonder how many calories get burned with Zumba — which is much more fun, but has a lot of stops and starts. Or tennis, which is also like that.

  2. What counts as exercise, though? It seems like playing tennis or running should count for more than walking your dog. The Step class that I am thinking about going to in one hour should count for a whole lot more than vacuuming (which I’ve read can be counted as exercise!!)

    In other words, if I walk my dog for an hour every day, that’s probably not going to do much for my cholesterol, right?

    Please advise!!

    Also, I see your Phish Food and I raise you Cape Cod Kettle-Cooked Chips at 10 p.m. with a tub of cottage cheese.

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