Gas station without pumps

2014 June 19

Bike miles

Filed under: Uncategorized — gasstationwithoutpumps @ 17:07
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I’ve been curious about how much exercise I’ve been getting on the average.  Because I’ve been putting on weight for the past few years, I suspect that it isn’t quite enough—but how much has there been?  Most of my exercise comes from riding my bicycle, mostly for commuting but some for utility trips.  I’ve been recording my bike odometer readings every few weeks for the past three years, so I can get a decent estimate of how many miles I’ve ridden, though not of the intensity of the riding.

I've been averaging about 3.75 miles a day or 1370 miles per year.

I’ve been averaging about 3.75 miles a day or 1370 miles per year.

Given the relatively low speeds I go up the hill to work, this translates to about 25 minutes a day of moderate exercise, or just under 3 hours a week, exceeding the Federal recommendation of 150 minutes a week, but not by much.

Looking at the curve more closely, you can see that this past quarter, when I was bike commuting 5 days a week, had about 4.5 miles per day, substantially more than during the 2011–12 academic year, when I was on sabbatical (about 2.6 miles/day).  This does not bode well for how much exercise I’ll get after I retire.


  1. 2 things to think about:

    1. in terms of exercise, one thing that can really help is if you increase the intensity of your commute. This is what I do, I don’t mind getting a bit sweaty. It can make a big difference in fitness/health.
    2. In terms of weight, this will almost be completely governed by your diet and how much you eat. 150 minutes of exercise will have little effect on weight. One thing that helped me is that I counted calories for a few weeks, and got a feel for how much food/calories I needed. It gave me a new perspective on eating. I’ve read that in general, if you do not feel hungry throughout the day, you are probably overeating. This matched my experience (feeling peckish usually matches with me eating the correct amount).

    Comment by Doug Smith (@bcphysics) — 2014 June 21 @ 09:02 | Reply

    • I agree that weight control requires balancing calories in with calories out, but I have a lot of habits that will be hard to break. The problem is that I was seriously underweight as a kid and young adult, and did not gain weight even when eating a lot. So I developed the habit of eating until I was full whenever I could. Over the decades my metabolism has slowed down a bit, and I’ve changed from being very skinny to bordering on overweight (BMI=24.3 kg/m2, which is 24%ile for male Americans of my age and height). Changing eating habits developed over more than 50 years is tough—it will probably be easier for me to increase my exercise somewhat than to decrease my intake by a corresponding amount (though I’ll make some effort along those lines).

      The intensity of my commute is largely a function of my mood in the morning—on grey days when I’m feeling fuzzy headed it takes me most of the commute just to wake up. I don’t have time to shower when I get to work (though facilities are available in the building), so I don’t want to be dripping with sweat when I arrive. Even so, I am sometimes quite sweaty when I arrive, especially if the morning fog has burned off before I head up the hill. I have slowed down over the past 3 decades—I think I average about 10% longer getting up the hill than I used to, and on days when I push myself, I don’t get as much increase in speed as I used to.

      I’m more worried about how little exercise I’m getting when I don’t commute. For example, this summer I plan to work from home on my book, which means I’m only planning on going up the hill once a week, instead of 4–5 times a week. This will result in an overall 2–3 fold decrease in my exercise, unless I deliberately do some bicycling or running as exercise. Somehow my plans to exercise deliberately never materialize (or don’t last long if they do), so it would be better if I worked out a transportation need that would get me on my bike almost every day, even when I’m not going in to the office.

      Of course, I want to get writing done this summer also. I’m still mulling over ideas for getting writing done and getting exercise: work in coffeeshops? try to write in my office instead of at home? take my laptop to some secluded place in the woods where there is no Internet to distract me? One problem is that I like to be able to switch back and forth between writing in the book and trying out ideas for labs, for which my desk/lab bench at home is the best location.

      Comment by gasstationwithoutpumps — 2014 June 21 @ 12:46 | Reply

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