Another topic I will be blogging on from time to time is the two-headed beast of diet and exercise. Since my father died of severe MI when I was eighteen, the prospect of sudden cardiac death has hung over my head like the sword of Damocles. I am now the same age as he was when he died, though I have a far different diet and exercise regimen. After trying various philosophies of training and eating, I have found the best results from the so-called "primal" or "paleo" diet and training program. I do rather heavy weight training three times a week, and on a fourth day either a 30-minute run with five or six 30-second sprints, or when the weather turns colder, 20 minutes on the stationary bike with five or six 30 second sprints. Otherwise I walk to work (about 30 minutes each way) briskly and, on the way home, mostly uphill.
Yesterday I spent most of the day walking around downtown Chicago, where I am in town visiting my brother, and stopped in at Border's on Michigan Avenue to buy Neil Shubin's Your Inner Fish for another nephew (whom I will be seeing later today). While I was there, I browsed the health and exercise section, looking for Gary Taubes's Good Calories, Bad Calories, to buy for my brother. It was not in stock, but Mark Sisson's The Primal Blueprint was. I did not have to think twice. I am especially keen on my brother changing his workout routine from repetitive and boring "chronic cardio" to "lifting heavy weights" (as Mark Sisson recommends). However, compliance will be harder for my brother than for me. Just by walking to work I get the low-impact aerobic exercise that we are evolved to perform. I can run 10 K in a reasonable time, but I choose not to.
I remember reading somewhere that the residents of Manhattan were on average the healthiest of all Americans. This does not surprise me, since for New Yorkers, their feet are their major way of getting around (even including the subway). It is no accident that "New York music," the soundtrack for scene-setting in Manhattan, has a quick beat (BUMP-bada-bump-bump BADA-BADA-bump-bump, BUMP-bada-bump-bump BADA-BADA-bump-pump) because that is how fast New Yorkers walk (and if you are a gawking tourist from Iowa sauntering along Fifth Avenue looking up at the skyscrapers, you're liable to be mown down). I mention this, because yesterday I noticed that the people walking along Michigan Avenue at around noon did not walk like New Yorkers, but like people who mostly amble from the parking lot to the mall. Of course, you do get "New York walking" in Chicago, just during rush hour while folks are headed to and from the train. As it was, I had to weave through the strolling suburbanites on my way down Michigan Avenue back toward State Street. Pick up the pace, people!