Exercising inadequately, excessively, or just right ?

photo by John Anders

photo by John Anders

Two recent articles leave this reader confused about the answer to a vital question.

Just three days ago, National Public Radio ran a piece entitled Take A Hike To Do Your Heart And Spirit Good.
This was a study of postmenopausal women who, for six months, came into the lab to walk a treadmill while researchers watched.  The results indicated that “ metabolism of blood sugar” improved in even the control group that walked moderately for just 73 minutes a week. There was no apparent improvement in results in two other control groups, one walking for 136 minutes, and the other for 190 minutes per week.  The premise was that even walking an average of 10 minutes per day produced 95% of the benefits of jogging, without the drawbacks.

But how does that jive with the New York Times article from May 1, 2015, entitled The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life ?

Gretchen Reynold’s NYTimes piece references two very large studies that were detailed in the April 2015 issue of  JAMA Internal Medicine.
The first study followed 14 years of death records of 661,000 middle aged adults. It tracked exercise habits, and grouped the findings from those who did no exercise whatsoever to those who exercised a massive amount (25 hours a week).  For reference, US National health guidelines recommend that we engage in 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise.
The results indicated that those who did no exercise at all had the greatest risk of death. The next group did exercise but did not meet the 150 minute per week guideline, and reduced their death risk by 20%.  The group that met the 150 minute US Guidelines went on to reduce their risk by 31%. The “ sweet spot” though, was a group that exercised 450 minutes per week, or just over an hour a day, reducing their death risk by 39%. After that, the investment in exercise duration tanked, with the group exercising 25 hours a week doing no better ( 31% reduction) than the 150 minute per week group.
The second cohort, an Australian study, followed 210,000 individuals, and also tracked death statistics. Three groups were aggregated:  walkers, runners, and those who exercised more intensively.
Moderate walking produced a “ substantial reduction” in death risk.
Reynolds then writes that,  “But if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality. Those who spent up to 30 percent of their weekly exercise time in vigorous activities were 9 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who exercised for the same amount of time but always moderately, while those who spent more than 30 percent of their exercise time in strenuous activities gained an extra 13 percent reduction in early mortality, compared with people who never broke much of a sweat. The researchers did not note any increase in mortality,  among those few people completing the largest amounts of intense exercise.”
Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who led the second study says, “Anyone who is physically capable of activity should try to reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity.”

My own personal research is in agreement with the “ sweet spot” in the JAMA study. For me, 150 minutes a week maintains some measure of health, but did not significantly improve my fitness.  For that, I need more activity.
Since January 2015, I’ve been riding my mountain bike in the woods three times a week, and walking the other days. If I take the occasional day off, I make up for it by putting in a few more hours some other day, maintaining my 1 hour per week average.
My weight is now down 15 pounds, and my cholesterol profile and blood pressure have moved into the normal range. I’ve gained these measurable results from exercising moderately to intensively for 420 minutes a week, or a average an hour a day.

So… just enough, not enough or just right ?

What’s working for you?


Posted in Fitness | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

A Closer Look: Guthook’s Hiking Guides – Trail to Summit

A Closer Look: Guthook’s Hiking Guides – Trail to Summit.  <

The caped crusader- Guthook, about to launch himself up Doubletop Mountain in Baxter State Park

The caped crusader- Guthook, about to launch himself up Doubletop Mountain in Baxter State Park

The high point of my summer last year was our 1 week Baxter Park “thru-hike”, which exposed me to the solitude and features of the Park’s northeast corner.  I also joined Guthook on a few day hikes in Acadia National Park in the late fall, in prep for another Guthook’s Hiking Guide of that world class hiking destination.

Midcoast Maine locals need to know about and use Guthook’s Camden Hills Hiker app.  The app features all the trails in Camden Hills State Park, plus the George’s Highland Path on Ragged Mountain, Bald Mountain, and Spruce Mountain.  The app pulses your moving location on a hiking trail map of the Camden Hills, complete with markers for points of interest in the area. If you want more information about a point of interest, you tap on it to get a description and photos of the area. The app is capable of  working without a cell or internet signal, since you can download all the maps and information before hitting the trail.

Another key feature of Guthook’s apps are the ability of the app to allow the iPhone to serve as a GPS, where you can view if you are on the trail or not.  I used it this past winter when it became impossible for me to find my way along the Sky Blue trail on a dark winter’s night, where the record-breaking snow levels obscured the blue blazes on the trees.

Posted in Backpacking | Leave a comment

The New Adventure Library | Outside Online

Summer is just one week away. I’m buying a reclining chair to laying out here on Lincolnville Beach, and launch into a few of these recommended adventure books. Heck, I maybe even bring the iPad Mini (in a baggie) and watch one of these videos. I’ve already completed 10 of the 33 in the Library. image via Outside online[/caption.

As a side note, the 2015 Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Camden International Film Festival’s Opening Night film VIRUNGA directed by Orlando von Einsiedel, who attended the festival right next door in Camden, Maine to present his film.

The New Adventure Library | Outside Online. << Click it !

Posted in Imported Posts | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Day1 Riding Vermont’s Kingdom Trails.


Big day riding my upgraded Santa Cruz Tallboy on Vermont’s Kingdom Trails. I’m here for three days of riding on one of the top ten mountain bike parks in the USA. There are 10 Bubbas in the Woods folks on this inaugural trip for the 2015 season.
We completed 12 miles today after the long ride over from coastal Maine. There is just no easy direct route from Lincolnville to East Burke.
I’m riding a bike that has taken considerable cash to upgrade for this season. My bike is three years old now. I trashed the Rockshox Recon fork that came with the bike and decided to pony up for a more substantial replacement shock, which unfortunately set me back close to $1000. I also needed a new wheel to match the larger diameter axle that paired with the Rockshox Revelation fork that I’m running now.
I also just shelled out $150 for a new rear Shimano SLX disc brake assembly after trashing the Avid caliper that came with the bike. One of the pistons seized as well as fractured.
I also opted to get a dropper post. While I have been content to slide my ass off the back of my saddle and drop my butt down over the rear wheel on the steep and rough downhill segments that I encounter, a dropper post instantly accomplishes that with the click of a handlebar lever. I bought a Gravity Dropper post from a US company from Montana. Another $300.
But today it was all worth it.
The Bubbas are rough on bikes. I’m at the two hundred pound with level, and the trails that we regularly ride are rocky, uneven, and very rough. If these modern bikes are built better and are capable of absorbing the hits and drops on our challenging trails, then many of us are working around our knees, shoulders, and back parts that are wearing out in parallel with our mountain bicycles.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

CDT day 23: rock formations of magic


i’m following The Carrot’s steady progress on the CDT and am wondering what she will do next in the chess game against the Big Clock.

Originally posted on CARROT QUINN:

May 27
Mileage 34
521.5 miles hiked from Mexico

Now that we’re camped way down near six thousand feet, the cold never arrives. There’s a stillness, a windlessness, on this flat sandy mesa, and I sleep cradled within it. The sky is gentle, the lightning-gnarled trees are gentle. The small soft stick-breakers do their dances beneath the moon. The mice run their errands.

I wake at 6:10 and sit on my sleeping pad, eating last night’s leftover cold pasta out of my cookpot, now with Sand in it. I feel hungover. 32 miles, blergh! My first big day on the CDT. Oof. My blood is thick and slow and my brain is full of fuzz. I blew my load yesterday, I’ve got nothing left. Time to do 34!

I have a stumbly sort of morning, everything feeling misaligned or out of order or badly packed. I fidget and snack and…

View original 894 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Sleeping Wild Close to Home

I’m continuing efforts to sleep outside in locations within walking distance from my house.  We’re fortunate in Maine right now to be experiencing a cold front, just at the same time that the pesky, painful black flies would be a major player in any outdoor activity.  The cold stopped them last night, plus the wind.

I spent the night on top of Moody Mountain  with two of my backpacking pals, General Lee and General Tso.  Tso came up from Bath and Lee has been living in Costa Rica since we hiked the Continental Divide Trail together in 2013. The three of us spent months together thru hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2007.  The last time we were together was in 2011.

We decided to head up to sleep on top of Moody Mountain, cowboy style, on the spur of the moment. Tso had not planed to spend the night, but around 9:30, after it got dark, I asked Marcia to shuttle us up Moody Mountain Road, where she dropped us off at the start of an old abandoned woods road that led us up to the broad rocky, lichen and moss covered ledges that make up the top.

All we took with us were sleeping bags, pads, and backpacks to carry them in. I spent my second night in my new bivvy bag.  Simplicity itself.  We lounged  around on our pads jabbering away under the stunning expanse of stars until the wind and the cold were persistent enough that we retreated to the warmth of our down sleeping bags.

Lee and Tso atop Moody

Lee and Tso atop Moody

We awoke just before the sun rose at 5 AM, an orange glow in the eastern sky.  Tso had a long way to drive to attend a Memorial Day weekend event with his family, and Lee and I wanted to get in a bike ride before we headed off to Marcia’s own family celebration in Newcastle.

It took all of a minute to stuff the sleeping kits into our backpacks when we headed back along the ridge, then followed a rough and often obscure trail that dumped us out back on High Street where we made it back to the house.

Two Generals:  Lee and Tso

Two Generals: Lee and Tso

We were back at the house by 6:10 AM. Definitely worth a repeat, but it won’t be so easy when the mosquitoes rule the night. Maybe the tent for next time up there ?

[Please respect the landowner’s rights if you camp out like this.  I have permission from my neighbor to do what I do on her property.]






Posted in Camping | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What’s It Like to Sleep in a Bivy Bag ?

It’s interesting !

With no success from posting my requests to borrow someone’s bivy sack- via blog, Facebook, Twitter I finally bought my own.  I have been intrigued about ditching my tent for certain brief outdoor overnights.  You’ve read about my keen interest in following up some of the ideas of the most interesting book Microadventures, by Alistair Humphreys.

photo 4Humphreys includes a chapter entitled The Glorious Bivy Bag, where he extolls the benefits of sleeping on the ground, inside your bivy sack.  I did a little research and found a huge price difference in what is essentially a sleeping bag raincoat.  You can spend close to $250 for a top of the line model.  I went for the bottom of the line, and selected  a $58 (with shipping) bag on Amazon.

Here’s the bag- it’s advertised as “Waterproof GORE-TEX© Bivy Cover is produced utilizing waterproof, moisture-vapor-permeable material with all seams heat sealed.”  It weighs 2 pounds, 3 ounces.


General Lee and I launched our impromptu overnight in the woods by throwing  minimal kits together.  I packed just a headlamp, sleeping bag, pad, quart of water, axe, lighter and my pack on my back. We hopped in the car after supper and before it was dark and left the car in the Stevens Corner lot .  We made quick work of walking up the Multipurpose Road, taking a left at the Frohock Trailhead, then veering up to the backside of Bald Rock Mountain.

We had originally planned to sleep right on top, up at 1100 feet, but that idea got ditched when we experienced the refrigerator wind flowing up the rock face overlooking Penobscot Bay.

Fogbank moving in

Fogbank moving in

We located a flat area between the dilapidated lean-to and the rock ledge leading up to the top where we laid out our sleeping pads and bags.  Lee was going pure cowboy, but I put my bag inside the bivy sack and rested that combo on top of my Neo-air mattress.

My set up with Lee in the background

My set up with Lee in the background

I  had planned to start a warming fire, but when the real dark hit at around 9 PM, we headed right  into the bags anticipating a great undisturbed night of open air sleep.

How did it go?

The thick fog was so laded with water that when I awoke in the night to pee, it sounded like it was raining.  It wasn’t rain. It was the accumulated fog drops falling off the tree branches overhead onto the ground.

This was a good initial test of the bivy sack.  While the cover of my bivy was absolutely soaked with water, the outer cover of my down bag was barely damp. I liked the big teeth of the heavy duty zipper that extended half way down the bag.  This bivy is huge.  I did not cinch the drawstring at the top of the bivy, but did extend the ample hood over my head.  It’s definitely good to be wearing a head cover- I had on a wool hoodie, so put that over my head for warmth.  One thing to think about when sleeping out in a bivy is what to do with all the gear you have with you.  If it’s great weather, you just put your stuff in your pack and let the whole package just sit there overnight.  But if it rains, or the trees are dripping water all night, you want that gear to be dry.  None of this matters much if you are just dirt bagging it for a night then packing up and going home, but if you are out for more than one night, you’d better be packing a large waterproof bag to put your gear in.

Humphreys admits that the bivy is sort of silly, but it’s fun if the weather and the bugs cooperate.  I think he’s right in that, ” When inside a tent, you are basically in a rubbish version of indoors.” If rain were predicted, I would not be choosing the bivy- I’d pack my tent which weighs the same.

We were up at 5 for the 5:08 AM sunrise, which was just a thin orange band sandwiched between grey washes of clouds.

I’m looking forward to spending my next night within my new bivy, soon.

Posted in Gear | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment