• “Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple. Dr. Suess

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I graduated to two minutes this week.
Such a long short time!

A few weeks after I started physical therapy (following removal of a large benign tumor) I graduated from simple stretching and lifting exercises to 1 minute on an elliptical trainer. The one minute rule was strictly enforced for the first week and then, if I wanted to and felt up to it, I could add more time -
 entirely my choice.

What kind of exercise can you do in 1 minute?
If you do it every day will it make any difference?

My first exercises were very simple.  Lift the leg from 90 degrees to 180 degrees ten times.  Step onto a thick book and lift my own weight 10 times etc. I had about 15 different ones. My leg muscles had to be trained in the simplest of motions.

Repetition worked wonders and with it my ability to walk and balance soon allowed me to discard the walker and change to a cane.  When I started the elliptical I often had to revert to the walker the following day. The gradual improvement was slow and at times seemed nonexistent but in time I began to have more strength and stamina.

Enough strength and stamina to begin that 1 minute!

Wikipedia says the following: "An elliptical trainer or cross trainer is a stationary exercise machine used to simulate stair climbing, walking, or running without causing excessive pressure to the joints... to offer a non-impact cardiovascular workout ... They are an example of a weight-bearing form of exercise. ... An elliptical cross trainer is comparable to a treadmill in its exertion of leg muscles and the heart. Ellipticals produce an intermediate range of leg motion between that of stationary bikes and treadmills.''

When I finished my first day on an elliptical I REALLY needed the ice massage each PT session ended with every time; and then I went home to bed.  I went to PT 3 times a week.  Thanks to Casey who cheerfully drove me there and picked me up.

The second week I pushed myself to the max - I made 1 minute 15 seconds. I felt a bit silly - how could such a simple movement be so difficult? I determined to up the ante - I really wanted more than a cane - how can I be healthy and ride a bike or dance with a cane?

 It took some time but eventually I refused to quit until  I made 1 minute 30 seconds.  My legs would turn to jelly and I could hardly walk to the massage table but I was at 1 1/2.

That might not seem very long but have you ever tried to hold a toddler still for that long? or even yourself? Try it - can you do absolutely nothing or hold perfectly still for 90 seconds? This was much much harder than those things are!

Medical Insurance only pays for specific amounts of PT.  Before I ever reached 2 minutes I was sent home with lists of exercises, resistance bands, and suggestions for other things I could buy/do - the only impediment was money!

I had no money.

I do have GRRR though - I have continued to more or less do my therapy - at least sporadically.

A few months later as I moped and moaned (and wished I had an elliptical) my patiently listening daughter reminded me that she had given one away - it was missing a cord but perhaps still traceable and possible to use. It had been the rounds to several places but was now unused.

Soon the older, dust covered elliptical with a one partially broken and one missing foot piece moved from a garage to a new life in my sewing room. David replace the foot pedals with some well thought out and constructed wooden platforms (that even compensated for the 3/4" lift I wear on one leg - I so love not needing to get shoes and socks on) and I added 1 minute on the trainer to the simple exercises I do most mornings to maintain my mobility.

Do I exercise every day?
I WISH! I should be so diligent!
No - but I do basics often enough to prevent problems - sometimes not until the problems start though but I at least know how to correct them - it is just the daily grind and reps.

I started with one minute again - 3 times a week - EEEKKK!!!

Who knew so much lactic acid existed in the world - and the only way to really dissipate it is to do the exercises more faithfully.

Last week I really pushed to make 2 minutes one day - I almost died - or at least wished I might.  The following week I could only do 1/1/2 with difficulty. I persisted and this week I have officially graduated.

2 minutes, baby!!
2 minutes - I am starting to polish my bike!

What can 2 minutes do for you?