NYT: Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work.

Posted: December 28, 2016 in General

Here’s an article you’ll immediately appreciate if you have a FITBIT BLAZE. or other product that alerts you to the hourly need for exercise.

The New York Times article Work. Walk 5 Minutes. Work. discusses how people felt and performed during an average work day if they took either a 30 minute walk or short 5 minute hourly breaks.

The short breaks were more potent for staying refreshed an alert during the work day. (Obviously this is not a replacement for other lengthier exercise in the day!)

FitBit builds hourly activity goals into its devices for the reasons stated here:

Research shows that prolonged sitting is associated with a significantly higher risk of heart disease, diabetes, obesity, cancer, and depression, as well as muscle and joint problems. Even if you meet typical exercise guidelines, sitting for long periods of time can still compromise your health. Fortunately, moving even a few minutes every hour reduces the negative effects of sitting.

(You can see the research links at the FitBit page by the way.

So in addition to being more productive for your work, you can have a better quality of life for yourself as well.

One thing I like about it is that if you have a daily step goal, by chipping away at it hourly, you don’t end up having to walk 10,000 steps at 9 PM. We both know that is probably NOT going to happen (though I do crank out remaining steps at that hour!).

If you’re more ambitious you can try this… think of this as FitBit helping you to “Grease the Groove” in something you want ot accomplish. Use the hourly reminders to walk 250 steps as a reminder to do a set of calisthenics too.. squats or pushups for example. Or use it as a reminder to climb a flight of stairs and check off another activity towards your daily goals.

You can also use it as a reminder to do other – non physical things – like pray. Or meditate. Or practice deep breathing. Make it work for you, but get your steps in every hour. I try to get 14 hours a day of this activity! How many hours are you trying to stay active each day?

Here’s the FITBIT BLAZE.. My goal is to start blogging about how I’m using the Blaze to achieve my fitness goals and also expose problems I’m having with the device as well as my work arounds.

I’m recovering from some illness and got deconditioned.  They say “the legs are the first things to go” as we age, and that’s something I very strongly believe.  I’m planning a mission trip early next year and we expect to do LOTS of walking.

Knowing my foibles pretty well, I decided that if I planned to do all my walking in big chunks of 30 to 60 minutes per day (my doctor wants me to do 60 minutes walking daily) that I would likely FAIL.

You know how your schedule can get really busy and it’s easy to “skip” an hour long workout.

Recently sports physiologists have said that 10 minutes 3 times per day has the same effect as 30 minutes straight. Leonard Schwartz of HeavyHands fame said that in their testing at the University of Pittsburgh cardio improving responses could start coming  in as few as 3 minutes.

(If you want some ideas for 3 Minute Workouts, check this page.)

These sources planted a seed in my mind that grew like Jack’s beanstalk the minute I heard my friend describe his new Blaze.

He said “It reminds me every hour to do at least 250 steps”.

That’s when I started thinking… “Work out a little bit every hour? Yes, that sounds like what I need to do.”

Of course 250 steps hourly won’t “cut it” for my training. I know that I need some much longer blocks of working out daily, but establishing a pattern of activity and daily working out is exactly what I needed to accomplish.

As I started reading about how Pritikin’s patients were reversing heart and artery disease I realized all of them – in addition to dieting – were doing huge amounts of walking.  That “sealed the deal” for me… I needed to start doing lots more to get my activity in… “mini workouts” along with longer workouts.

Consider it a cardio form of “Greasing the Groove”. “Greasing the Groove” or GTG is doing one exercise a lot to become GREAT at it. I figured that’s what had to happen to my walking… though from the outset, I planned to do more than JUST walking.

That’s where my knowledge of HeavyHands and Isotonometrics and Pan-X come in.  But my FitBit Blaze is proving a big help in its own right.

Just for starters, here is how the Blaze (and it’s app and/or online dashboard) is getting me ready:

First, it’s helping me track my heart rate… for me knowing I’m in an exercise zone is important when I’m doing heavy hands. But also making sure my heartbeat is returning to it’s resting rate in a timely manner is equally important.  The Blaze (while not perfect) is a solid tool to help that.

Second, it’s making sure I do a minimum of exercise 14 hours a day. I chose the hours … others choose fewer hours in the day. It keeps me from vegging out in a chair typing… like now! 🙂

Third, it’s helping me take the stairs and go up inclines. The Blaze makes sure I’m going up flights of stairs daily by tracking the number. Sometimes it’s wacky. I don’t have a single stair in my house but it showed I went up 10 feet while walking around the house this morning. I knew to make up for that over counting later in the day. I like the “badge” I get for hitting 10 “hills” per day. It helps round out my leg development… as do knee bends which the Blaze doesn’t really track except perhaps as steps. Let me tell you, full squats are a challenging way to get steps!  Instead, supplement steps and climbing with them!

Fourth, it’s tracking overall steps. The “badges” for completing steps are motivating as are the “fireworks” on the watch when hitting your daily goal. By some measures “10,000 steps” is good. Others say that’s rather arbitrary. I know if you’re just doing a couple thousand steps per day, moving to 10,000 is a significant and worthwhile challenge. Staying active every hour, the 10,000 figure wasn’t that hard to reach.

Mileage too is tracked so that’s a fifth way the device helps. I was surprised to know I was going over 10,000 steps but not making 5 miles yet.

Sixth, tracking “active minutes”. After 1o minutes of exercise the Blaze automatically records your “active minutes” – that’s the figure I’ll be using to determine if I’m doing my 60 minutes per day. Depending on the “expert” you’re following, you need 30 to 90 “active” minutes daily with your heart rate elevated (the higher the elevation the less time required in general) for optimum health.  Which number is right? I have no idea. As I mentioned before my doctor wants me doing 60 so I’m working towards that figure.

Here’s what the American Institute for Cancer Research defines proper activity levels in their recommendations for preventing cancer:

As well as helping us avoid weight gain, activity itself can help to prevent cancer. Studies show that regular activity can help to keep hormone levels healthy, which is important because having high levels of some hormones can increase your cancer risk.

Physical activity may also strengthen our immune system, help keep our digestive system healthy and allow us to consume more food and more cancer-protective nutrients – without gaining weight.

If you’re not used to doing much activity, start by working toward 30 minutes of moderate activity each day – remember that anything is better than nothing. You can build up slowly until you reach your target. Shorter bouts of activity are just as beneficial. (It’s the total time that’s important.)

Research shows that to avoid weight gain, doing more activity is beneficial. High amounts of sitting – sedentary behaviors – also links to overweight and obesity. Moving more throughout the day and limiting sedentary behaviors may help with weight control.

For maximum health benefits, scientists recommend that we aim for 60 minutes or more of moderate activity every day, or 30 minutes or more of vigorous activity.

  • Moderate activity is anything that gets your heart beating a bit faster and makes you breathe more deeply – like brisk walking.
  • Vigorous activity means raising your heart rate so that you warm up, start to sweat and feel out of breath.

If I’m at work, I’ll just walk or climb stairs probably without arm motions… or sometimes march in place with my hands swinging high.

If I’m “working out” at home I’m using HeavyHands, Indian Clubs, Kettlebells, or IsoTonoMetrics. If I’m outside depending on the available equipment I may be using HeavyHands, Nordic Walking Sticks, IsoTonoMetrics, or nothing. Or I’ll “walk and squat” with all the mentioned tools, depending on how I feel.

Anyway this is how I’m using the FitBit Blaze to try to maximize the number of workouts through the day and strengthen my whole body… cardiovascular system and muscular system as well. And most of all to make sure “the legs don’t go first”.

If you have more questions about the Blaze or integrating it into your workouts, ask questions in the comments and I’ll respond there or respond in another post.

Thanks for reading!

PS- you’ll find it very addictive in a positive way to hit all your goals every day and exercise all the hours you’ve chosen! Here’s what that looks like on the FitBit phone app!

I’ve never trained with a sledgehammer but this seems like the perfect complement to a kettlebell swing or snatch!

Alternating them would be a challenging but awesome workout!

Panaerobic too!




I’ve been gone for quite a while, but I ran across this book by Marty Gallagher and decided a review would be a good way to drop back in and say “Hello”!

The book for review is CrossCore® Hardcore: Revolutionary Resistance: How to Build Maximum Muscle and Extreme Strength Without Weights, Machines or Gyms Kindle Edition and published (on Kindle) May 3, 2016 so it’s “fresh”!

As you know, these limited run fitness books in paper cost alot more – the paper edition of this book is a whopping $30 – but the Kindle edition when I purchased it was just $10. At that price I decided to buy it. And if it were terrible I can always get a refund from Amazon.

First, there are some oddities about the book or at least it’s Amazon description. What they heck is it talking about for one thing? I wasn’t quite sure at first what a “CrossCore®” was or is. Fortunately someone decided to let the cat out of the bag and just call the thing what it is.. a SUSPENSION TRAINER. Once you realize that you can begin to appreciate the book a bit more.

Second, the pretext of the book is  a mystery to me.  The story goes that some “special op” guys really wondered if there were “anything” that they could carry with them short of a set of kettlebells that was “worth it” to stay in shape. That story is probably true but it soundss a bit odd since, supposedly, the TRX was developed by and for “specal op” guys right? But then kettlebells were all the rage for “special op” guys and then “tactical barbell” and then back to this.

In other words, given the origins of this book it’s good to know all the “special op” guys are about as clueless as the rest of us about what what works … the difference is their name get’s thrown around for street cred because it sounds better to say “I wrote this book because I got a call from a special ops guy who wanted to know…” than to say “I wrote this book because I got a call from a fat middle aged guy who dropped out of Planet Fitness and wanted to know…”

I’ll be reviewing this from the perspective of the fat middle aged guy in case you were afraid you weren’t “spec op” enough to benefit from it, ok?

Third you can go about half way through the book hearing about the “pin out” position and you hope they’re not talking about a grenade, but it’s not quite apparent. Actually they’re talking about the construction of the CrossCore® suspension trainer. As you know some suspension trainers are basically a strap attached to an anchor point (or two straps to two anchor points).

To add instability other suspension trainers are pulley based.

When a pulley is involved you have to maintain stability to keep the pulley from moving while performing the exercise and that adds a different layer of difficulty (and stabilizing work) to the exercise.

The CrossCore® has a “pin” that can be used to stop the action of the pulley and decrease the need for stabilization during exercise. If you’re a complete newbie starting out with the CrossCore® you can start “pin in” and, as you progress switch to exercises that are “pin out”.

Unless you count the latest edition of the IsoGym, which doesn’t really have a pulley but has instability because the strap can move around a carabiner, I’ve never used a pulley based trainer. But does stopping the pulley keep the rope or strap entirely free of movement? I really don’t know, but that’s the implication.

You can see the “pin” and some exercise progressions suggested by the CrossCore® though the book has variations beyond this video and even suggests a use of the device not suggested by the company – but I don’t think that will apply to most average users.

Once past the bravado and confusion, we get into the real content of the book and Gallagher doesn’t disappoint. His goal is to use the suspension trainer to create enough resistance that a very fit “special ops” guy can get a good upper body workout in 15 minutes or less.

As you’ll read, the way of doing this is to apply a variety of techniques to the actual exercises to boost the inefficiency of the exercise.

For example, each exercise is done at reduced “grind” speed… no explosive work. Progressions are accomplished by changing foot placement even during the exercise. Progression is also accomplished in the case mentioned by starting with one arm movements to near failure moving to two arm movements to near failure. These are like “drop sets” essentially in the 5 to 10 rep range.

The difficulty of these moves can be enhanced by pauses during the reps, relaxation at the point of greatest flexion, and full lockout at the point of greatest extension.

I have to admit I didn’t know you could do “one arm” work the described in the book and that was a valuable thing to learn and the “first thing” that jumped out.

Of course the premise is that elite athletes can get the strength building they need using this device in lieu of any other machine or weight. I’m a bit skeptical still though the workout described is amazingly challenging. What I mean is that I didn’t see how a deadlift, for example, could be replaced. Possibly I just read through the list of exercise progressions in the back of the book too quickly. One exercise was listed as the remedy for “glute stimulation” so perhaps that’s the cure all in this case?

As Gallagher notes in the book, real progress will involve real mental application in each exercise. The average guy or gal probably isn’t used to devoting that much attention to an exercise and so that’s why they have unspectacular results.

No matter what device or protocol you’re using – even body weight work – Gallagher’s section on mental involvement and hypertrophy should be helpful.

I certainly was inspired to “give it a go” “Gallagher Style” with my suspension training after reading the book so I’d have to say that alone was worth the $10 price tag. (That’s really what you wanted to know, right? “Was it worth it?”)

Of course I usually quote Gallagher her on the topic of “strength endurance” and THIS BOOK ISN’T THAT! This is about pure strength and hypertrophy with exercise done in the 5 to 10 rep range, not hundreds or thousands.

As the book progresses the user is shown Basic to Advanced routines – some using weihts in a backpack (hey what about “no other equipment”?) and a large variety of possible exercises to round out the information.

This is a strength book, but if you’re using a suspension trainer and know how to use it for ENDURANCE, you can always do what Dr. Schwartz said about IsoTonoMetrics… you can be cranking out reps for endurance and slow them down for strength as part of an overall workout.

In the world of modern fitness with “periodization” you could do strength one day and the next workout do more endurance work. Any knowledge of how to increase the usefulness of a suspension trainer should be useful.

This book will be great if you travel a lot and need to stay in shape with a suspension trainer… you can make sure your basic strength isn’t falling behind that way!  Why you or a special ops guy might not want to throw in a resistance band or two for variety or just extra resistance isn’t something the book discusses much because the goal is to find ONE TOOL that essentially can “Do it all”… fair enough.

I’m not sure I’d have wanted to invest in $30 version… you may. The Kindle book was sufficient for me and accomplished it’s goal.

I’d love to hear your comments! Thanks for reading!



Nordic Walking by definition is “Panaerobic”…some estimate that 90% of one’s musculature is involved. Whatever the amount Dr. Schwartz defined it as basically any movement activating all 4 limbs and as much muscle as possible.

It’s a nice alternate day exercise for me – I find it works well doing HeavyHands one day and this the next. HeavyHands really works the shoulders and “lifting” muscles. As the arms go overhead they really get the heart pumping. 

Nordic walking works in a slightly  different way, moves the “lifting muscles” of the arm and shoulder with light resistance and gives more work to the muscles required to “push off” as the body is propelled forward.

What Nordic walking ISN’T is a Longstrength exercise. By Schwartz’ definition they were rhythmic calesthenics that involved all limbs and can be done for time, not just “reps”.

I also don’t like the lack of hip and quad action that upright walking alone gives. That’s where a Nordic Longstrength move comes in for me. 

Basically while standing with arms front, I keep my arms ahead (usually more straight than shown) and sink back into a hip hinge. The return to standing is by a movement that resembles a kettlebell swing, i.e. a hip thrust while – to one degree or another – using the lat muscles to pull upright as well.

It’s a great posterior chain exercise and lat exercise. I got the idea from “gruntbrain” and his poles with “T” handles and from kettlebell swinging. 

Though it can be done as a braced knee bend, in my opinion the hip hinge and lat action keep it quick paced and easier on the knees. 

Currently I use it to fill in gaps on the walk when I’d otherwise be inactive for some reason or if my path on a given day might not have much up hill work.

Now that I’ve found my “groove” in the exercise (doing it as a hip hinge instead of a squat made it faster and more enjoyable), it’s time to ramp up some reps and see how they go.

What other Longstrength exercises do you see as possible using Nordic Walking Poles?

I’d love to hear your thoughts!


If you’re doing Nordic Walking here’s a Facebook group to post your workouts!

Nordic Walking Workouts

Join us!