"If you really want to get in shape, look for solutions, not excuses."
That succinct morsel of inspiration came from Moving Crew reader Edward Prados of Arlington and was among dozens of responses to last week's published query about how you are meeting (or not meeting) the government's recent recommendation that most adults get 60 to 90 minutes of exercise a day. By and large, you're a "solution" bunch, though we did field a smattering of "You must be kidding!" mopery.
The Moving Crew explores some facet of fitness and offer ways to overcome the excuses that keep so many of us desk- and sofa-bound. Join them, every other Thursday at 11 a.m. ET.
Since we weren't kidding, let's focus on the positive. Amid the dozens of replies we got describing how people stay (or plan to get) that active, we spotted five recurring themes:
walk -- whenever, wherever and with whomever you can (then progress to jogging, health permitting);
take the stairs;
commute by bike, at least to one of the Metro stations where bike lockers are available for a fee;
rise early to beat the gym crowds and ease your commute; and
split up your exercise throughout the day.
Before you crumple this paper in disgust (recycle, please), note that these ideas came from a broad demographic swath: working parents, young singles, retirees, the formerly obese, recovering cardiac patients and the economically challenged.
We know -- really, we do! -- how hard it is to find an extra hour a day to exercise. But recall that 15 years ago you never thought you had an extra 60 minutes a day to delete spam. You're finding that time, right?
In honor of Oscar week, here are, in random order, our Fitness Inspiration Awards (Fitties?) of 2005:
Best musical score Reader Ed Schudel of Reston said he relies on "one can of Red Bull and an iPod full of techno and house [music]" to fuel his workout -- 30 minutes of treadmill followed by 150 bench presses and crunches "till it hurts." We applaud the effort, but offer one caution: Add variety to the lifting and core work to avoid overtraining those two muscle groups -- and possible injury. (The caffeine? Not a great idea either.)
Best time management Jean Cathey of Sykesville, Md., said she gets up at 3 a.m. and drives to her office, where she hits the fitness room for at least 30 minutes before starting her work day. The best side effect? A breezy commute to Tysons, said Cathey, an admitted "morning person."
Best last resort Rhona Bosin of Silver Spring, who frets about gym costs and the safety of running outdoors, said, "Turn on some music and dance."
Longest streak Sue Williams of Fairfax claims to have exercised 350 (!) days a year since 1976 (!) using a host of familiar techniques: exercising with a buddy; working out early in the day; keeping exercise clothes in her car for quick access; rewarding herself for meeting goals; and participating in competitions (which, we note, are not reserved for hard-core buffs).
Humane-itarian award Leslie Wilder said her routine includes 30 minutes daily walking her two dogs; she offered the pet-less this suggestion: "Many local animal shelters have programs for volunteers to walk shelter dogs. Good for the dogs, good for the people."
We expect to revisit the 60-to-90-minutes-a-day topic regularly -- oh, until the yoga studio freezes over or so. Continue to send your e-mail thoughts, solutions, challenges, quandaries and apoplectic rants. And join us next Thursday, Feb. 10, at www.washingtonpost.com for our live Moving Crew chat. Our e-mail is email@example.com.
-- John Briley