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.
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.)