I am not a big fan of cardio machines.  Yes – I’ve used them, but bluntly – they bore the hell out of me.  There was one treadmill at NYSC that allowed me to do HIIT.  Most treadmills don’t provide you an ease in speed transition to change things the way HIIT requires.  Now I do various bodyweight/free weight circuits and complexes including Burpees to achieve a similar effect to HIIT.

With my wife’s stroke, the treadmill became a necessary evil.  She needed the practice walking and the availability of side rails to hold onto.  She started slow and flat.  She has worked herself up to 20+ minutes and does not hold on for a substantial albeit, intermittent portion.  Flat is where it is at.  Length of time is important to get the brain muscle connection re-wired.  It is also important for her to swing her arms in a normal gait when not hanging on.  That is both a critical and the toughest part.

I looked at the various alternatives to the treadmill.  The bikes are worthless for what she needs.  The various ellipticals looked like a good alternative.  In the beginning, she could not manage to even get on one and keep her balance.  Now she can.  BUT – which one of the several machines was the correct one.  We settled on the one where the arms and legs move in a natural gait.  Left leg – right arm, etc.  Re-wiring that movement is critical – repetition – not strength.

She alternates between lengthy “walking” days and exercise days.  On Walking Days – she does 12 minutes on the Elliptical and 12 on the Treadmill.  On Exercise Day, 12 minutes on the Elliptical and then we move to various machines and free weights.  At home, she uses the Thera-Band for arm and upper body workouts.

Yesterday, she went with two friends who are “Mall Walkers.”  The big question – take a cane or not.  She did not use a cane and it worked well for her.

Today is her last Occupational Therapy session.  All therapies have now stopped.  She is on her own.

I have been a big fan of exercise supporting real life functionality and not just gaining mirror muscles and a 6-pack.  Now, more than ever, I understand what that means.