Brian's Blog

…one man's contribution to the Weeeeerly Wild World

Life without Exercise


The month of September saw me cycle over 900 miles, more than I’d done in a month before, and then in October I opted to take it easy, yet I still covered 500-or-so miles (I don’t really know how!) Then November arrived, along with autumn, and wind (50mph+)… and rain… days and days of rain…

I ended up having a few days off from cycling, I didn’t feel so good. Then when I finally got out on my bike I felt great – this post is about my thoughts, worries about others, and the transition I experienced.

On Thursday of last week I ended up using my car (thankfully it started, something it refused to do the day before when I tried). I ended up visiting clients all day, carting a stack of laptops about, and doing my bulk grocery shopping (just to make the trip more worthwhile) – a round trip of some 50 miles, and not arriving home until well after dark. I couldn’t have achieved all that on my bike – I would have had to spread the work and load over a couple of days or more – but visiting clients in such weather as we’ve had, by bike, doesn’t make for an attractive arrival, and no matter how many layers of plastic I wrap their laptops in my clients will still look on me with eyes of horror (I try and give them words of reassurance but I end up sounding like I’m deluding myself!)

Today though, I finally got out on my bike again. It’s the 10th of November and it was only my third trip out – I could have covered 300 miles by this day already… but I’ve only now reached 60 miles (the number of miles for this month look pretty bleak already!) My last trip out was last Friday, and I ‘only’ did 12 miles. After ‘only’ a couple of days of seclusion I wasn’t feeling so good. I had found myself breathless, feeling stressed, lacking appetite, and increasingly sensitive to sugary snacks (which I was trying to avoid binging on but the lack of appeal for proper meals didn’t help).

I find it interesting how such things are intertwined. When I cycle a lot I do my best to ensure I consume enough calories – my bike’s computer gives me an idea of how many I have burned. When I last cycled 80 miles it informed me I had burned 2000 calories and I worried “How am I going to eat all that?” – that makes for a 4.5k recommended calorie intake for an adult male. The key is to scoff your way through as much as you can within the first half hour after such exercise – I guess while your body is still in that frame-of-mind – you can’t faff around in the kitchen for an hour or wait for a slow meal to arrive at a restaurant. When there are high-mile days like these it is certain there will be a shortfall in the calorie count, so I try and make up for it the next day, and that next day isn’t so bad – I’m usually still on a high from what I achieved the day before… but as the days pass and I’m giving myself some rest, my appetite begins to drop in line with my metabolism – my body automatically adjusts based on what food it knows or thinks it needs. Another problem here is that you can’t suddenly go from doing low miles or no miles for days on end to going out on the bike all day without having fuelled your body up ready, well you might be able to but generally this infliction make it more exhausting and leads to a longer recovery.

It’s quite remarkable I think, and I’m fortunate that my weight stays pretty constant throughout what I put it through (not that I weigh myself each day, but whenever I do it’s around the same) – for me my body stays on a low BMI (a little too low for my liking, but it seems stuck there), for others it might be on a higher BMI, and some people seem to constantly struggle with seemingly gaining weight unless they take conscious action. I have to consciously eat enough otherwise I feel like I’m withering away – a sign that this isn’t perhaps simply a worry is that I feel my gums start to recede behind my bottom front teeth – scary huh?

Returning to the point about how I feel with not enough exercise, it makes me wonder how people who do no exercise cope. I worry about friends and family who seem to do little and try, with gentle suggestions, to get them to take on some form of exercise. After a couple of days of doing nothing physically active I start to feel unwell; I feel uptight inside which is similar to times when I’ve felt stressed – at the worst times when stressed I get pains in my back and shoulders and this can bring about asthma-like feelings (I had asthma during my school years). There is also depression. As metabolism drops, if there is little to keep one mentally active and enthusiastic indoors then mood declines, I think this is inevitable – we’re not designed to live like this. It worries me that people who do no exercise live this way, but their mindset must make them just feel like that’s normal – there is no perspective. It worries me that I may be laid up in bed for a week or more at sometime in my life, how will I cope then? How will I cope when I’m an old man and no longer able to get out in rough weather? It’s a long way off I know, but still.

When I went out today on my 30 mile cycle, heading off into 40mph gusts, I felt great. I knew a trip out on my bike was much needed (I needed it days ago) and when the weather forecast showed only grey clouds rather than another full day of heavy rain, I knew there would be no car driving today. I can breathe easy again now – having had good lungfuls of fresh air. Seeing the wider world was a blessing too – sheeps and ducks, horses and mushrooms (and wind turbines).


Russula ochroleuca, perhaps? I didn’t pick it.


5 comments on “Life without Exercise

  1. hiddenhoarder
    10 November, 2015

    Two things here… my grandpa made some wind generators like those years and years ago. He talked about it when I was a little kid and then in the 80’s or 90’s, I think, he actually had his design patented. I think of him every time I see those. And the other thing is, it’s horrible living with no exercise! I took on a new job about a year ago and every day I say that it’s physically killing me. I’m an accountant and sit at a desk all day. I walk around more than I probably should but my body is not handling all the sitting well at all. I need to find a way to get more exercise! Maybe by next spring you will inspire me enough to dust off my bike!!

    • Brian
      10 November, 2015

      Don’t leave it until spring 😉 I’m lucky that I’m able to incorporate cycling into my work. Even when I was at uni and thought it was too far to cycle (in hind sight it wasn’t) I drove part of the way with my bike in my car and then cycled the rest. I’m sure there’s usually a way 🙂

  2. bribikes
    12 November, 2015

    Great post, Brian! Life is so much better now that I am healthier and more active. Biking gives me perspective on life-without it I would be too self-focused. I do worry about one of my brothers, the one I walked with to work the other day, he spends all his free time watching movies and doesn’t get outside much. I never know how far to encourage him, I don’t want to be a nag. It has to be his own choice to be active.

    Also, I find it interesting how we seem to be on opposing sides of the metabolic spectrum, can we trade places for a bit?

    • Brian
      12 November, 2015

      It’s a tricky balance we have to find, some nagging, some gentle encouragement… some leading by example – each figured out on a case-by-case basis.

      As for trading places… maybe eat what you like and send the calories to me?!

      • bribikes
        13 November, 2015

        It’s a deal!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on 10 November, 2015 by in Cycling, Health and Fitness, Photography, Psychology and tagged , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: