Working out has, over the last few years, become an integral part of my day. Long ago I assumed that running occasionally and eating semi-healthy was enough, and then my thirties hit, and I realized that I needed something more. Katie prompted me to try a cardio program with a little bit of weights thrown in and I haven't looked back. Now I rotate through a few different regimens, depending on my mood, though I often circle back to familiar ground.
Cardio and weights was a great start. I felt good, lost weight, and most importantly, my back didn't hurt as much. Before working out I used to take aspirin daily for my back (old injury from teenage years), and a quick thirty minutes of moving around kept that bottle closed. After doing the same three week program at least a dozen times, though, I was ready for a change. We bought a streaming service and a whole world opened up.
Weight-lifting was an obvious manly-man thing to do, so I gravitated towards those programs, purchasing heavier dumbbells and a bench, and entered the injury cycle. Part of it was lifting too heavy too fast, or maybe it was poor form - either way, it was difficult to keep a routine. With the different pace and frequent rests between injury I began to lose some of the benefits of a daily workout.
Eventually I discovered a program that combined weights and HIIT and, well, its been pretty amazing. Four days a week, each day focused on a different muscle group, and only 15-20 minutes of weights followed by a quick HIIT and core session. It doesn't burn as many calories as a longer cardio would, yet I feel great throughout the week. Plus, with only four workouts a week, I have plenty of buffer to add runs or additional training, or even stagger things before a tough hike, without having to skip a long period.
The other program I recently found that I really liked was a MMA-inspired core program. It sounds silly, and I feel silly doing it, and there's still nothing more empowering than a strong core, especially for my back injury. It's also a wildly effective calorie-burner. For most of my workouts I'm lucky if I burn 300 calories, but this core one can easily approach 400+ in 30 minutes... and most of the programs are longer than 30.
I'm still meandering through different workouts. Halfway to forty now and, while I feel better than I did in late-twenties, I have no idea what the next few decades will look like. I do know quite a few retired people who are still hiking 20+ mile days and backpacking, which sounds like an amazing way to spend a retirement, so if I can keep in shape for another thirty years maybe I can be one of those? I can only hope.