(Hopefully) good sports essays and observations for good sports by a guy who tries (and can sometimes fail) to be a good sport.


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Thursday, January 05, 2006


For those of you who might have been worried, I didn't take off forever. It's just that blogging of any sort, while you're doing your day job, takes a bunch of time, and I needed some year-end time off to address a variety of matters (some of which I had neglected while attending to blogging).

I'm not a big believer in New Year's resolutions, but I did promise myself that I'd get back to an exercise routine after having taken a good part of the fall off. The reasons for doing so are complicated and not worth repeating. In addition, I had gone at it hard enough, as it were, during the first nine months that amidst everything, something had to give. I just needed more sleep.

After all, for most Americans, how do you make it work when you want to get a reasonable amount of rest, eat decent meals (read: healthful), commute, do a good job at work, spend meaningful time with the family, take care of personal matters (whether it's your car, your house, your medical appointments, your finances), read and have some fun on occasion, not to mention exercise and, yes, blog? Okay, so most Americans don't blog and not enough read books, but it's hard to get it all done.

There are tons of great reasons to exercise, and, yes, exercising is important for your health. Go to a store, go to the movies (to the extent that people are still going), go to your favorite arena or stadium, and, well, Americans are just carrying too much weight. I can't put my finger on it, except to hypothesize that people have longer commutes, live in neighborhoods without sidewalks or nearby recreational facilities or too much traffic (if you like to bike), that people's homes are too comfortable (read: big-screen TV and recliner couch) and simply don't get to the gym, on a court, on a bike, or what have you. Too much weight has led to an epidemic of diabetes among our young people and older people, as well as cardiac problems and orthopedic problems. As a nation, we need to improve our approach toward taking care of ourselves.

We all need to make exercise a part of our daily routine (or, at least many times a week). We really do. Somehow, some way, you have to do it. You don't get exercise riding to work in a car or on a bus, and you don't get exercise by pushing yourself away from your kitchen table. You have to make time for it.

I like to get exercise in a variety of ways, from playing football with the kids to riding a bike when the sun's up early enough during the year and it's warm enough to do so to working out with dumbbells (the weights, that is), medicine balls and an elliptical machine that I have at home. My preferred time is early in the morning, and I try to get in a 45-minute workout each weekday. It consists of about 5 minutes of hard shadowboxing (to get my blood circulating), 10 minutes of stretching (including using stretch bands for the hamstrings) and then 30 minutes on the cross-country ski machine (that's over 10 years old but still works fine), which works my legs and arms. On occasion, I'll take a day off from the aerobic exercise and work out with a 5-pound medicine ball and some dumbbells, and I'll stretch on those days too. If I have the luxury of more time, I'll add 20 minutes to the workout and do a medicine ball routine and the elliptical machine every day. (By the way, when I saw elliptical, I really mean "low impact").

When you do that and you watch what you eat (read: no cake, candy, processed sugar, salad and fruit at lunch and not sandwiches or pizza, and have a popsicle for a snack at night instead of something more caloric), you'll find that you'll lose some weight and feel better. You have to be disciplined, and drinking water during the day helps keep you full. You also need to eat a good breakfast (if, along with some cereal you eat a tablespoon of health-food peanut butter that has the right type of oils for you that don't contribute to your cholestrol -- this is the type that has to be refrigerated after you open it), you'll have enough energy to keep you going through lunchtime. Exercise can help get you more healthy, but it cannot overcome a bad diet. You need to eat right too.

It's hard to get started, that's for sure, and my guess is that many of us go in fits and starts, getting derailed at times by too much work, too much stress, a cold, a flu, a tweak to one's knee or ankle that prevents exercise to the point where you fall out of your routine. With a little bit of focus and discipline, and getting to bed earlier to enable your exercise before your day starts (which is the point in your day you control the best), you'll see results pretty quickly.

Sure, this might mean foregoing eating lots of good cookies or lots of pasta and pizza, and you might have to miss 10:00 p.m. television, but my guess is that in one's old age, where perhaps there are more periods of time available for reflection than in middle age, few will take heart in the amount of cookies they've eaten over a lifetime or the amount of 10:00 p.m. TV shows that they watched. I'm sure you'll be more gratified by good health and the ability to enjoy yourself later on in life because you have fewer health problems than you would have had you continued to sit on that comfortable couch watching cable TV.

And this prescription doesn't mean that you can't enjoy an ice cream with your child on a hot summer's day or pizza before the Super Bowl. What it means is that you'll fit those fun items into your life the way you do everythnig else. Just don't overdo it.

If you exercise, that's great. If you don't, now is as good a time as any. Just go down to your basement, into your spare bedroom, or into the health club (whose membership fees you pay but whose facilities you seldom use). You won't regret it.

You really won't.


Blogger BCSportsFanatic said...

How many times has "get more exercise" been on your New Year's Resolutions and when have you actually followed through for the whole year??

Let's talk in October...

2:38 AM  
Blogger SportsProf said...

Thanks, BC. I usually get derailed by business travel or colds, and the fall placed some unusual demands on my time. I generally feel better when I exercise, so I think I'll stick to it. It wasn't as much a New Year's Resolution as it was a resolve to get back to it that coincided with the New Year, because I am not big on those types of resolutions either. I'll keep you posted on core fitness and my weight, though. My bet is I'll be down those ten pounds by and in October.

7:22 AM  

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