I usually get a burst of energy for improving my exercise
habits sometime in April. Often it’s after watching the Boston
Marathon, but this year it happened a couple of weeks

I have occasionally been someone who goes to a gym and puts on
funny clothes and works out on a machine for 20 minutes to the
terrible music they play and then
does some yoga. This has always been when there was a gym in the
building I worked in and it was a way to take a break from my
job. I actively like rowing on a rowing machine, and would have
one if there was room in my Cambridge apartment, but there isn’t.

Now that I work at home, there’s a lot less incentive to put up
with the travel time to the gym and the clothes and the music.

I have a clothes rack in my bedroom that if unfolded correctly would be a
Nordic-trak ski machine. I’ve never really liked the noise it
makes, and while unfolding it and folding it back up doesn’t
take as long as getting to the YMCA would, it’s still a fair
amount of overhead.

Anyway, when I have had the aerobic exercise habit, I’ve been
just as obnoxious as other people about its benefits. One that
doesn’t get mentioned very often, but I’m pretty sure it’s true
for me, is that my hair grows longer.

None of this prevents me from getting out of the habit for
years at a time. Since my most common mode of exercise (when
I’m not taking breaks from work at a gym) is walking, I most
recently lost the habit when my hip arthritis got too bad, and
then I didn’t take it back up after the surgery in January of

Even with my April exercise energy, and even though my ability
to walk (at least on flat terrain) is roughly back where it was
before the arthritis and the surgery, I still haven’t been able
to get back to walking anything like aerobically because I do
most of my walking with the 12 year old dog, and his hips seem to be about
where mine were before the surgery.

I occasionally get an idea for how to do aerobic exercise that
doesn’t depend on equipment or going somewhere you don’t want to
go. I’ve done a certain amount of
dancing to my recorded music collection. A couple of years ago,
when the hip was getting bad, I decided you didn’t have to get out
of your chair if you waved your arms vigorously enough, and I did
some conducting to my recorded music collection. If you do yoga
standing poses with downward dog in between, it’s aerobic.

This year’s idea comes out of this article in the New York
Times. When I actually read it, I didn’t think anything except
that the typical office building stair well sounded even worse
than the gym as a place to exercise. But then a couple of weeks
ago, I realized that I have two flights of stairs in my own
apartment, and if I just go up and down them a few times at a
reasonable clip, that would be the exercise, without going
anywhere I don’t want to go or changing clothes or anything.

So I hum Souza marches and go up the stairs at that tempo.
When I get too out of breath to hum the march, I stop.
Sometimes I do this twice a day. I haven’t been doing it long
enough to grow my hair longer, but it does seem to be having the
normal short-term effects. A new one is that my fasting blood
sugar is much more reliably under control when I’ve done even a
short stair-climbing stint.

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