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An Atlas and an Exercise Bike


y excitement increases as the miles go by on the way to my travel destination. Each city passed means I’m getting closer. As I watch my progress on the map, I’m inspired to keep going. These thoughts motivate my exercise plan. Using a road atlas and a stationary bike, I’m biking across America. Since I live in the Seattle, Washington, area, I’m following Interstate 90 from Seattle to Boston. As the miles accumulate, I eagerly watch my progress from city to city and state to state.

Each day I ride the bike, I enter my mileage in a travel log. By recording the date and distance, I can closely monitor my progress on the map. In fact, I have cut apart an atlas and taped segments to each page of a spiral-bound notebook. This allows me to break down the exact mileage for different segments of the trip. My daily entries give me a running total of my mileage, and I can easily see how far it is to the next city or landmark. An alternative is to clip photos from magazines or use computer clip art to include in a travel log. This imaginary trip has had a surprising effect on my exercise routine. When I know I am nearing a landmark city or state boundary, I am motivated to ride an extra mile or take two or three shorter rides a day just to watch my progress. Adding to the fun and motivation, my friends and family members regularly ask me, “Where are you now?” Sure, I got stuck in South Dakota for a few weeks while I was sick, but knowing my family would be asking prompted me to get back on the bike as soon as I felt up to it. If you are interested in doing this, but a cross-country trip seems too ambitious, set smaller goals. It’s fun to begin from where you live or from a major city nearby. Then pick somewhere you would enjoy visiting— a national park, a tourist attraction, or a relative’s hometown. Or you might choose


passes quickly, and when I check my progress, I think, Wow, look how far I’ve come already! You may enjoy watching travel videos for scenic inspiration while you “travel” across the country.

an unrelated scenic trip and “bike” your way around Oahu or Alaska, for instance. Of course, you should always consult your doctor regarding your exercise plan.

However you choose to incorporate it, adding an atlas and a personal travel log to your exercise routine can inspire you to achieve your fitness goals. This simple method may help you maintain the enthusiasm that builds consistent exercise habits. Enjoy your trip!

When feasible, reward yourself for completing your goal with an actual trip to that location (by car or plane). After pedaling my way to the Montana/Wyoming area, I planned my first visit to Yellowstone National Park, giving me the opportunity to drive the actual highway I had been biking across for months. Armed with a road atlas, you can adapt your exercise method to whatever suits you. You might prefer to use a treadmill instead of a stationary bike. Or you might choose to walk or ride through your neighborhood—if you live in an area with less rain than Seattle. One more tip: If you tend to watch the odometer too closely and think, Is that all the distance I’ve gone? Then distract yourself. I like to read or watch television while I’m exercising so I’m not thinking about the fact that I’m exercising. Time

©2005 Christy Bower. The author grants permission to distribute print or digital copies with the copyright notice intact. (Exercise bike © / AVAVA; beach bike © / Eric Gevaert; bike silhouette © / Momcilo Grujic)


An Atlas and an Exercise Bike  

Using a road atlas and a stationary bike, I’m biking across America. As the miles accumulate, I eagerly watch my progress from city to city...

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