I was introduced to sports in my late teens. I had started with cycling when I moved to Chandigarh for studies.
Early days at cycling were tough ones for me. My body took time to settle into an active routine. I had lead a sedentary lifestyle as a child. But as I settled into the new routine in Chandigarh, I learnt that I was good at long rides and best when riding on hills. I felt happier doing long rides since they tested my endurance more than speed.
I quit cycling when I was 20. Infact, I did not pursue any fitness routine in my daily life, almost for a decade. In my mid thirties, I longed to start cycling again and hoped that I could regain my fitness levels of late teens. Cycling was my preferred sport to pick again. I could afford an expensive bike too.
I started cycling again. Unlike in the past, and for some strange reason though, I focused on riding at high speeds. I believed that averaging less than 35 km/hr was suboptimal to be fit. I rode 1000-1200 km a month and lost weight as well. But I averaged max 24 km/hr for the 60-70km rides.
Something was not working right for me. Despite a rigorous fitness regime, I did not feel fresh. I experienced delayed recoveries post workouts; a bloated stomach coupled with an uneven heart beat.
While participating in a road race, I had a crash and got bruised badly. Doctor studying X ray of my right elbow commented, “No fracture but it seems you are depriving your body of essential vitamins and your body is extracting them from your bones.”
Listening to the Doctor, I decided to take it easy. I was in mid thirties and it was almost impossible to be as fit as in my late teens. I opted for a new regime; something that suited my body.
I limited my hours and days of working out. I did not do cycling alone and mixed it up with long walks and jogging on some days. This continues till date.
When I worked moderatley i.e. low intensity ones, I felt fresh and energetic. I did not experience bloated stomach and my diet also remained limited. Unlike in the past, I did not have an urge to binge on sweets, satiating the demand for additional calories.
My belief that exercising at moderate levels coupled with some short high intensity intervals on some days does more benefit to me than rigorous workouts.
Today, I mix it up - cardio at home, cycling on a trainer, running on grass, walking a few kilometres, and deep breathing when feeling lazy. The scientific explanation to my experience is well outlined in this article:
Study links two types of exercise with ‘substantial’ brain benefits