Friday, April 3, 2015

The Tyranny Of Numbers

I don't enjoy my thirty minute sessions on the pedal thingy in the gym at all, though I look forward to going and getting some exercise and feeling good afterwards. This is in stark contrast to the days when I could go out running. Forty of so minutes round the taman, or cruising the streets of Katong felt like forty minutes of, if not fun, then a pretty good time, most of which could be spent admiring my surroundings or letting my mind range over other matters.

A big part of the difference lies in the fact that setting the machine to its highest resistance means the thirty minutes feels like very hard work from the first couple of minutes onwards. I go for the highest resistance, not to punish myself but to slow my body down to a more fluid set of movements to avoid any more impact injuries. So far, so good. But there's a mental price to be paid. I can't really get away from thinking about the hard work I'm doing and I find myself focusing on all the numbers that flash in front of me giving me all sorts of data I don't really want on what's happening.

Do I really need to know that the session just used up three hundred and forty-eight calories, or that my heart rate has gone up to one hundred and fifty, whatever that means? (It seems that at my age you're not supposed to go above a hundred and forty, but I'm still breathing, so it doesn't seem to do too much harm.)

I suppose that in a time-starved life such as mine, the idea of getting the maximum out of one's thirty minutes of cardiovascular endeavour has its appeal, and the numbers help keep one on track (pun intended.) But I'm a bit worried that there's something unnecessarily obsessively intense about all this. I can sense my concern that I really should be using up three hundred and fifty calories a session rather than the pathetic three hundred and forty-eight I'm turning in at present. Funnily enough, though, I haven't really been thinking too hard about increasing the time spent on the machine. At least the hard slog has been useful in preventing me overdoing it, a temptation to which I'm temperamentally very prone.

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