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First Degree Fluid Power rower. 13-year-old True treadmill behind it.
First Degree Fluid Power rower. 13-year-old True treadmill behind it.

Rowing for Health and Happiness

We've decided to become proactive about our health and wellbeing as we row into 'senior citizenship.'

Yesterday, I 'invested' in our wellbeing. I bought a First Degree fluid power rowing machine with my federal tax refund. If you aren't familiar with this type of rower, it uses impellers moving through an enclosed drum of water to provide not only the resistance you would experience rowing, but also the accompanying sound. It is very cool.

I've owned a True treadmill for thirteen years. It cost nearly $3,000 when I bought it in 2000. In that case, I used the proceeds from the sale of an Internet domain name I owned. But a fair portion of that time, like many such purchases we make, it sat idle, collecting dust, that is until our daughter inspired me by her example, combining a daily workout on her treadmill and change of diet to slim down. She looks great now.

Realizing that I need to take responsibility for my own health, and having the luxury of working out of my home office where I set my own regime, I began breaking up my morning with a 2-to-3 mile walk on the treadmill, at a pretty good clip, which I now intersperse with several 1/8th of a mile jogging sessions to push up my heart rate, based on Charles Ratey's book 'Spark: The Revolutionary Science of Exercise and the Brain.'

Ratey, an MD, recommends keeping your exercise heart rate at 75 percent of its capacity, and periodically pushing it, for brief periods of time - 30 seconds or so - to 95 percent. At my age that translates into exercising at a average of 119 beats per minute. The top range would be 139 bpm, the maximum, 155 bpm. Wearing a Polar Bluetooth chest monitor, I can keep track of this via the display on the treadmill.

But the treadmill doesn't really do anything for my upper body, hence the rowing machine.

I discovered the First Degree rower while wandering through the exercise equipment exhibit area at Interbike last year in Las Vegas. I met the company founder and fell in love with the beauty of his machines. Rowing one planted the seed for my purchase yesterday.

But what really drove me were two catalyzing events. During my annual physical, I was diagnosed with having high blood pressure (more on this in the next blog). The doctor put me on a low dosage statin and aspirin regime, neither of which I am all that thrilled about taking due to their known side effects.

The second event was my wife just barely passing her own physical in terms of the metrics set my her employer's health insurance provider, United Healthcare. Not passing would have substantially increased her monthly contribution to our health insurance. Basically, we need to get her in better physical shape, too, or it's going to cost us, big time!

Of course, now the challenge is to get her to start using it.

I've worked at this long enough and my schedule is flexible enough that using the treadmill now has become routine. I use the time to read articles on my iPad on a wide range of topics from electric vehicles to cycling to urban planning and entrepreneurship. I also read books of interest, like Spark, which I just finished. Before that, I read Walkable Cities. The 40-45 minutes fairly flies by this way and I look forward to each session.

The bottom line is, we decided to invest in our health with our tax return; and I am determined that neither machine is going to collect dust. There simply is too much as stake now with all the talk of cutting deficits by slashing Social Security and Medicare. We can't assume that either will be there as we age. Of course, we won't always be able to step onto that treadmill and hike along at 3 mph or row at 2 mph, but we're determined to be at it as long as nature allows.

Addendum Just for your information, I put over 2 km on the rower yesterday, and I can attest (whew!), I am working an entirely different set of muscles than on the treadmill. Also, I was pleased to see the rower also works with my Polar chest monitor, so I can use it on both machines.

Posted By: Bill Moore [07-Apr-2013]