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Entries in College (3)

Monday
Feb112013

You Need To Walk More

Yesterday I went back to my college campus for a celebratory dinner to induct a former teammate into the athletic hall of fame.  It was the first time I had walked on the academic and residential areas of campus in almost a decade. The building site for the dinner was located literally within the heart of campus, which meant there would be nowhere to park close to the building. 

 

How sad is it that someone like me, who works out as many as six or seven times in a calendar week, does CrossFit, and teaches fitness classes, was momentarily agonizing over a walk of less than 200 yards, on a gorgeous college campus?

 

What does that say about how my mentality has been changed by years of being a “working adult”, which unfortunately is synonymous with being comfortable, having travel convenience, and being largely sedentary?

 

After the hall of fame dinner, we attended the basketball game, located at the far end of campus. If my college campus was a map of the U.S., my car was parked in the most immediate lot available (let's call that the New York/Pennsylvania area).  The arduous walk I just referenced meant that the dinner occurred in a mid-point building (roughly Kansas/Nebraska). The basketball arena was located on the furthest end on campus (California).

 

 I had a decision to make, and only fifteen minutes to decide.  Do I jump in the car and drive (quickly) around the perimeter of campus to hopefully find a spot in arena parking?  (This would cut down on both my pre-game and post-game walking distances)  But remember...this meant walking the far trip back to the east coast from Middle America.

 

Or, do I just head over to California from the middle of the country and save some time on the pre-game front end, increasing my chances to make it to the arena in-time for tip-off?  Smart on the front end…but this would also mean a cross-country (cross-campus) walk after the game was over.

 

How silly is this?

 

In the end, I chose the cross-campus post-game walk, knowing that it would be the best thing for my health.  As an added plus, there are probably worse things than a (literal) walk down memory lane at my old college on a clear Saturday night.

 

The timing of this walk was fitting, as I’ve been pondering the topic of sedentary adult lifestyles and our lack of “everyday movement”.  Our basketball team was ahead by 36 points (not a typo) early in the second half so I had a chance to get out early and ponder lots of things on the walk back.

 

I was struck by just how much walking we used to do back in college (and our campus isn’t even that big by comparison).  We used to walk a quarter mile (400m) from our dorms to the main classroom buildings in the heart of campus…then back across campus to the cafeteria (yes the same one made famous by NBA star Stephen Curry)…then more walking either back to our dorms or to more classes…then clear across campus to (depending upon your sport) the football stadium locker rooms, or main athletic complex locker rooms or training rooms for rehab treatment.

 

Then more walking to your respective field or court locations for two hours of grueling practice…then after showering, another 0.25 mile walk back to the cafeteria for dinner, and then walking back to the dorms for the end of the day.

 

Tired yet?

 

That used to amount to anywhere from 2-4 miles of walking on-campus, depending on the day’s schedule, not even including athletic activity (or night time partying).

 

Compare that to our lives as working adults.

 

We wake up…drive/ride to our work locations (though to be fair, some in urban cities may walk a fair distance to their respective buildings)…then we sit at desks for close to 8-10 hours of emails, meetings, and conference calls…then we ride/drive home from the office where we sit and eat dinner…sit in-front of the TV or with a book for a short while…then lie down for bed.  Repeat again four more days until the weekend.

 

“Active people” may toss in an hour of activity at the gym, but by-comparison is there really any wonder why we (as a society) are largely obese and out-of-shape? 

Is there any wonder why most of us (myself included) don’t have our college bodies anymore?

 

We blame our metabolisms for slowing down (which is biologically true, to a degree), however there has to be some accountability for our drastic lack of activity by-comparison to our younger days.

 

There are a lot of well-written pieces currently online detailing just how our sedentary lifestyles are slowly killing us.  I won’t attempt to completely regurgitate their work, but you can dive in further here, here, and here.

CrossFit star (and Navy Seal) Josh Bridges has some excellent related thoughts on the matter as well, in regards to not taking the easy way out in life.

 

As you may have also gleaned, just one hour of exercise (even something as intense as my personal favorite, CrossFit) each day is not enough to counterbalance the lack of overall “lifestyle movement” compared to our college years.

 

As an office-dweller, there are several things we can do to fight back.

You can consciously park further away from your destinations.

You could wear a pedometer (as I have been doing the past three weeks).

A few of my co-workers have started holding “walking meetings” to discuss quick matters or to brainstorm ideas, while walking a lap around our building.

Some days I will set a timer to get up each half hour and take two trips up and down the stairs to wake up the legs (and heart rate).

 

Nike’s Fuelband technology has also become popular as an ever-present reminder of well (or not-so-well) you may be doing to generate some movement and activity in your 24 hour day.

 

The point remains constant – our adult working lives typically do not lend themselves to frequent bouts of activity and physical exertion, so we have to fight back.  If you care about your body (both inside and out), then it’s not enough to allow the slowdown effects of office life to destroy your physique.

 

If you miss your old college body (or even just want to get 75% of the way there) – then start today with a strategy and tactics to implement more frequent bouts of “lifestyle cardio” throughout your 24 hour days.

 

(This was a long article, so odds are if you’ve read the entire thing from start to finish, it’s time to get out of your chair and go for a walk anyways.)

Monday
Sep062010

Why is it harder to stay lean as you get older?

Like lots of people, I was considerably leaner in high school and college during my more athletic years.   Many of us who were high school and/or college athletes reminisce about how much better we looked, or how difficult things have now become to keep the same weight or "fit into my old jeans", etc. 

A common reason (or excuse) is the theory of metabolic slowdown that occurs as we get older.  Certainly there is a degree of validity to this.  However, a recent blog post I discovered makes things much more simplistic than complicated reduction in our respective metabolisms.

Rusty Moore of Fitness Black Book basically outlined a factor that is so simple, it's the last reason we consider when wondering why our waist lines were more trim during our teens and 20's - we were much more active back then.

I won't restate all of the article's points here so that you feel compelled to read through the original.  However, in a general sense think about how much more physically active we were as younger people, compared to our adult selves.  Or, said another way, think about the drastic reduction in our activity once we become everyday "office workers".

We wake up - drive to work or ride public transportation - sit at a desk or conference table for 8-10 hours - commute back home while sitting in a vehicle - then usually eat dinner and sit down once again in-front of the TV, computer, or possibly a book. 

Where is the physical activity?

In high school and college, you walk to and from most classes.  Chances are, if you're reading sites like mine, you were some sort of an athlete in the afternoons as well.  Two hours or more of sports practice or games 5-6 days per week.  Or maybe if you were fortunate enough to grow up in an environment that made it possible, you went  swimming at the lake or surfing at the beach, or mountain biking, or spent time hiking. 

No wonder we could "eat whatever we wanted"and still look like a shirtless underwear model  (or bikini model for you ladies) without even putting thought into complex factors like diet, counting calories, carb cycling, etc.

While it's a largely unavoidable fact that being an adult, and part of the working world means that the bulk of our time belongs to our company and will be spent in an office or behind a desk.  But it's up to you what measures you will (or won't) take to counter-balance this unavoidable slowdown in everyday physical activity.

Obviously joining a gym and getting some exercise either in the mornings or evenings (or even during lunch) is one easy fix.  If money is tight and you can't swing for a gym membership, you can find other ways to increase your "NEPA" (Non-exercise physical activity)like going for long walks, bike rides, workout DVDs (think P90X or Jillian Michaels), or even simple steps like choosing the furthest spot in the parking lot, choosing stairs over elevators.  Another idea I tried last year was 10-20 pushups and prisoner squats every time I leave my desk for any reason during the work day.

As Carolina Panthers' head coach John Fox is fond of saying, "it is what it is".  Adult life in the working world can drastically reduce opportunities for recreational physical activity, however it's up to you to take steps to fight back against "fitness atrophy".

Sunday
Feb142010

Link Preview: StrengthPerformance.com

StrengthPerformance.com is the first social network aimed specifically at Strength & Conditioning coaches, with over 3,000 members.  There are coaches from over 260 colleges and universities shown as active site members.  Schools like Auburn, Clemson, Florida State, Arizona State, Georgia Tech, Indiana, Miami, and LSU are just a few of the examples.

However it serves as a lot more than just a networking or communications tool, with almost 700 training videos at your disposal.  This is one of my favorite features, as there is so much to learn from being able to take a look at the off-season workouts of literally hundreds of different collegiate athletic teams (both men's and women's).  There are even a few training videos of Olympic-level individual athletes like speed skater Apollo Ohno and decathlete Trey Hardee.

The site does require an initial email sign-in, however it's a free site and the email sign-in is purely for notification purposes whenever new videos and content become available each week.

If you're like me and love getting a glimpse at how different athletes (and teams) train for their respective sports, strengthperformance.com is well worth your time.