As I explained in the previous post Searching For The Cardio Code, after a very long hiatus, I’m ready to reintroduce cardio training to my fitness plan.
Some would argue that my long urban hikes or my 10,000 steps a day would qualify as cardio, but I am doubtful that my heart rate stays in that (180 – your age) range for an extended period. Seattle and San Francisco have hills and when I hike the streets, my heart rate may jump up enough to qualify as cardio, but only for a few minutes at a time. Also, as I mentioned in a previous post, years of doing SuperSlow HIT with exercises such as the leg press actually keeps my heart rate lower during the hill portion of these hikes.
Injury and Pain are a Concern
The reason I stopped running shortly after college was a pain in my left upper hip. Think of the spot between your belt and pocket. I never figured that pain out and it only went away when I stopped running. Yesterday, after 20 years, I got reacquainted with a mild version of that same pain after just 20 minutes on an elliptical trainer.
Even though my knees are much better than that were in April, they aren’t 100% and I don’t know if they ever will be. The left one still feels spongy when I try to run across a street. Some people say running can protect and strengthen the knees and others say running hurts the knees. I suspect it is a survivorship bias thing and I may be one of the people that running is not good for. But I’d love to be proven wrong, however, I do fear reinjuring my knee. Considering the years I’ve dealt with this problem, I’d rather err on the side of caution.
Here are some ideas and my initial thoughts. Correct me where I get things wrong.
Not an option at this time, maybe never. See above for explanation.
I would never bike outside in Seattle. I would consider smoking to be a safer activity. I do have access to both types of stationary bikes in the gym. Both bore the hell out of me. I have been doing 5-minutes a few times a week for knee rehab. I’m watching the clock the entire time. My heart rate never gets into the cardio zone and my knee still doesn’t feel 100% comfortable with the movement.
Endless Rope Machine
Unfortunately, the 2 gyms I have access to right now do not have this glorious machine. This would have been a good option for shorter cardio sessions.
Dr. Jay from the Cardio Code loves the rowing machine. People I respect in fitness either love or hate this machine for injury risk. I honestly don’t know what to think. It is boring too.
Probably better than running, but not by much. I might experiment with power walking up an incline. If my knees are stable and my heart rate gets high enough, it is a candidate.
Even though I got hip pain yesterday, this may have potential. My knees were happy. Too soon to tell.
My new gym has a pool and I’m a decent swimmer, so this has potential. The only downside is depending on how crowded the gym is, my access to a pool lane will be less than certain. This would be a good backup choice.
Never going to happen. Next.
I love hiking, but I would need to travel to get to a trail where there was enough elevation to keep my heart rate up for 20+ minutes. For normal people that don’t know the power of HIT, there are hikes close by that would work for them, but not for me.
I do have access to a very long set of outdoor stairs near my house. I’ll add them to the list.
Perhaps a Weighted Vest is an ideal way to get the heart rate up without increasing the speed of the cardio? Walking with a weighted vest is likely going to be better on my knees than running without one. Does that sound correct? It would need to be cheap. I see some on eBay. Wonder how many pounds I would need?
If you were me and my knees, what would you do for cardio? I will ease into cardio on both time and times per week. My motivation is to expand my fitness. I won’t continue if I’m in pain. If I can listen to podcasts that is a huge plus.
Photo by Marcus Ng