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With the mercury shooting up toward the teens this morning and a piddly southern breeze at my back, I could come out of my turtle-like posture of recent days and really enjoy the landscape. A fellow carrying a couple of bags of groceries in his mittened hands shared my euphoria with a smile and brisk greeting as we passed near the train station. My scarf and cap came off earlier than usual, and I swung my arms smartly as I strode happily along.

On colder days, those articles of clothing often stay put until I’m climbing the two-block hill that leads to the door of our office building. And today it reminded me of the salutary effects that such inclines can have on one’s fitness regimen.

Last night at the gym, I was hoping to nab one of the stationary bikes — having walked to work, I thought it would be soothing for my sometimes creaky knee. But they were all taken (New Year’s resolutions . . .), so I climbed onto one of these sleek new elliptical machines, hit the “quick start” button (don’t bother me with instructions), and started rolling — first backward (oops) then, kind of getting the hang of it, forward. I randomly pushed a few more buttons enroute, as is my habit, before discovering the “incline” mode.

I was wearing my heart-rate monitor, so I could see very quickly how much harder I was working once I began traveling (virtually) uphill — from a heart rate in the 90s to over 110. This, I assume, is a good thing.

Actually, the whole heart rate thing is a bit of a mystery to me. Apparently, I’m supposed to shoot for a target heart rate with this formula:
resting heart rate + [% exercise intensity X heart rate reserve] = target heart rate
So, if I want to exercise midway between 50 percent and 85 percent of my heart rate reserve, that equation would be: 60 bpm + [65% X 104 bpm] = 128 bpm.
Which means I need to tilt the earth a little more.

Thoughts to share?

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