Endurance & stength - how long?

About two weeks ago my wife’s car broke (longish story - not relevant). I, because her day is more crowded, gave her my car while hers is out of commission.

I started walking to the bus stop about half-a-mile away (my brain is now doing Billy Joel songs) for my ride. After two or three days of doing this, I miss the last return bus to my neighborhood so I take a different bus to my local park-n-ride and walk the two miles from there to home.

That took too long so the next day I grab my bike, unused all this summer, and ride to the park-and-ride. I arrived puffing & tired but I arrived.

I’ve been doing this ride for the past week or so. (I should also mention that I’m a nearly 39-year old, overweight (~340 lb) man. The car was actually fixed yesterday but I rode today just because I think I need the activity.)

This morning I hop on and I upshift to the upper gear range and I’m going smoothly. I arrive this morning with no leg or knee pain and not too much huff-and-puff.

So - in less than two weeks, can this exercise be making this big a difference in my body? How long does it take for a body to start to adjust & compensate for increased activity level?

What changes is my body trying to make here?

Sigh - too little out of focus. Rambling again.

Let me summarize, please:

  1. What physical changes are taking place in my body now that I’m finally getting some activity?

  2. Is is possible that these changes would have an effect after a measly two weeks?

From an interested amateur: Yes, your body adapts (if you don’t overdo, which you will recognize by the damage). Two weeks should make a perceptible difference.

Your heart-lungs-circulation began to get better at bringing the oxygen around and taking away the CO2 as soon as you began walking. Your muscles (not just in your legs) began to tone up also, and some muscle cells began to be added.

Your metabolism picked up, especially after the two-mile walk, and rose and kept at a higher pace for a few hours after the two-mile walk, burning some more calories per hour than usual. With luck, your hunger signals don’t keep pace. You might wake up the following AM quite hungry, due to burning extra calories during the night. Note, a larger breakfast doesn’t usually show up as weight gain.

The bicycling is more efficient per mile than walking, but it is more demanding per minute, so you continue to improve heart-lungs-circulation, and also your bod continues to grab passing blood-sugar and uses it to add muscle cells to various muscles.

The walking may be hard on your feet, ankles, or knee-joints, and the bicycling may do similarly, so you may find it wise to skip some bike-days to allow recovery, and otherwise pay attention.

Likely the increased activity actually does increase your immediate risk of heart issues or strokes, but over the long term it would decrease that risk, and the bet is, you will increase your life span with the added activity.

The increased circulation runs your blood through the liver, kidneys, etc, cleaning out more metabolic waste per minute.

You very likely are feeling younger by now.

At the beginning, positive changes occur quickly and easily. The longer you train, the harder it is to make progress. Enjoy it while it lasts.

With the acknowledgement that you said you were an “amateur”, can you explain this a bit more?

Just how is my cardio-pulmo-vascular system starting to work better? Am I growing more red cells? Adding lung capacity?

(Amateur continues) Your body noticed an oxygen deficiency, and your bone marrow nudged up the production of red blood cells. This is no doubt mediated by a little chain of biochemical reactions. Your heart during the action increased in rate and volume of output, and later during rest built up its musculature a certain amount.

I can’t tell you about lung capacity, but if you tested your “wind” without this conditioning vs. with it, you wouldn’t get out of breath quite so fast now. Also your pulse wouldn’t kick up so high, and would stay regular under higher stress now. The heart has become more efficient.

Given that physically active people have fewer heart attacks and strokes, and I believe have better blood pressure, it would appear that the arteries all become better conditioned, but I do not know the mechanism for this.

The food/bloodsugar/insulin/activity/musclecell-or-fatcell cycle is designed to stay in balance, with feedback loops. Insulin moves blood sugar into cells and is involved in their energy metabolism, from keeping them alive to allowing fat storage, fat withdrawal, and bursts of muscle-cell activity. Activity is a major factor in the short-term and long-term functioning of this cycle.

You appear to be observing benefits of your activity. There is a strong human characteristic to go for the max, laying oneself out with pulled muscles, joint damage, or conceivably a heart attack. The technique to avoid this involves not doing one’s utmost. The concept to focus on is pacing oneself.

Very cool. Yes, by the way, I am feeling a bit younger. Go figure…

Thanks Mary