Dave’s Fitness Tips for Social Media Power Users – 1st Installment: Get Moving with an Easy Walking Routine.
It’s getting pretty close to BlogWorld time, and every year I think to myself “I’m spending so many hours at the computer working, not exercising or eating well enough, this cannot be good for my body. I’m an active person, what am I doing?…Come BlogWorld time, I’m going to feel (and look) like a wreck.”
This year, I’m going to take a new approach, scheduling a little time each day to exercise, eat better, and I’m going to share some of the simple fitness and diet tips I’ve learned over the years with you. I’ll even seek out the advice of fitness and diet experts to help from time to time. Hopefully, together we’ll get to BlogWorld feeling and looking better, and it’ll be a great start toward a healthier 2011 for all of us geeks and busy social media fanatics.
First, a little backstory on my past history in geekdom, and my health wake-up call.
When I moved to San Diego in my early 20’s, I was a graphic designer and copywriter working long hours, trying to save my pennies toward an eventual condo purchase so I could settle down with my college sweetheart. I worked 8am-7pm, then 9pm-Midnight (sometimes later). All the while, I was eating seldom, but when I did, it was large portions and not the best food, mind you. I ate based on convenience, not quality. And since I was surrounded by computer geeks, designers and video gamers, it made a whole lot more sense to take a break from work in an action-packed video game networked with my buddies, than getting up and actually getting myself in action.
After a couple of years of this, I’d gone from my previous svelte, high school athlete weight of 176 lbs up to 218 lbs, my hair was thinning, my skin was a mess, my trouser size kept increasing and I was even getting out of breath going up the stairs to my second floor office…not good. I felt like I was aging rapidly, and at this pace, I’d most certainly be following in the footsteps of my father–having a heart attack and open-heart surgery (or worse) in my 30’s.
I looked in the mirror one day, astonished to see a completely different person looking back at me than I once was, and I made a decision. I was not going to die young, dammit. I was going to get my health back, and get in shape. Good shape!
My life was too busy to add more complexity. No fancy cable-driven workout machines, no time-consuming drive to the gym, no gear. I just wanted a simple start to getting active again. Shoes, shorts, t-shirt, door, outside. I began walking. Such a simple thing, right? I’d been a competitive athlete in so many sports (tennis, cycling, skiing, baseball, etc) and yet, I’d never thought of walking as an athletic activity. But it was for me now. I was so out of shape, I just needed to get moving. Simple goals.
I began walking early in the morning before work several days each week, 30-40 minutes at a time, just a long loop through the rolling hills of my neighborhood. After 2 or 3 weeks, I was able to jog a little bit here and there. Walk 10 minutes, jog 3 minutes, walk again. Every couple of weeks, I’d add more time to my jogging segments until it was a 50/50 ratio of walking to jogging. I’d never been a runner (sort of despised running actually, used to think it was incredibly boring) but this was actually fun! I had no special training, fancy equipment, I was getting fresh air, seeing some great trees, sunshine and I was feeling like me again!
After a few more weeks, I hooked up with my neighbor and began jogging non-stop for 45-60 minute stints. He was a “real” runner, fancy shorts, special running shoes and all, but he liked me anyway. Why, I have no idea. I must’ve had a great sense of humor, or perhaps he was amused watching me run and dragged me along for the entertainment value. After a few months I was down to 183 lbs…I’d lost 35 lbs, holy cow! I felt so much better, and the person in the mirror was starting to look familiar again.
So, that’s how I started getting back in shape. Walking. For those of you behind the computer for long hours, days strung together with no exercise mixed in, neck, shoulders, legs and back stiff and sore, here’s your fitness tip for the week. It’s a simple one…
Get outside and walk for 30-40 minutes, 4 mornings this week before you begin your day. Just open the door and go. Simple as that. Below is the walking routine I used to get back on the road to fitness when I was in the most unhealthy, inactive time of my life.
Dave’s Easy Morning Walking Routine:
(Take deep breaths of fresh air as you begin; in through the nose, blow gently out through closed lips.)
- 10 Minute Moderate Pace Warm-up: Walk at a moderate, easy pace for the first 10 minutes to get your muscles and body awake and warmed up. (Moderate means you’re not trying hard, not straining, walking at an easy-to-maintain pace, but not going slow enough to shuffle your feet.)
- Interval 1 – Brisk Pace 1 Minute, Easy 4 Minutes: Take brisk strides for 1 minute, then slow down to moderate/easy again for 4 minutes.
- Interval 2 – Repeat Brisk Pace 1 Minute, Easy 4 Minutes: Same brisk pace as before; it should feel easier and more fluid the second time, now that your muscles are warm and pliable. After 1 minute, slow to your moderate pace and try to feel your feet rolling through the strides, touching the ground mid-foot first, rolling through the ball of your foot. Feel the muscles of your feet and legs cushioning your stride—don’t let your heels take the shock of your stride, you’re designed to walk and run with muscles absorbing and giving you a cushy ride, so don’t force the shock into your skeleton by hitting your heels on the ground!
- Interval 3 – Brisk Pace 2 Minutes, Easy 3 Minutes: You’re now warm, fluid in motion, and you can maintain the brisk pace for 2 minutes, with a 3 minute easy pace to cool down. If you feel like you’re straining during the 2 minute brisk segment, you’re walking too fast, slow it down and just keep a pace which requires effort to maintain. You’re training your muscles and lungs to develop some endurance, this is a good thing!
- 5 Minute Cool-down, Easy Pace: You’ve done great, just walk at your moderate pace for 5 minutes, feel the cushioned stride, keep your arms active and keep breathing deeply—in through the nose, out through the mouth. Gradually dial down from your moderate pace to a really slow pace. Keep your good form, don’t hit the heels, maintain cushioned strides, just shorten them to match your slow forward progress.
- 5 Minute Stretch: While your muscles are warm, this is the time to stretch, get some flexibility back, and help avoid future range-of-motion injuries. Do your favorite stretches, basics are fine. Stretch arms up to the sky, clasp hands and slowly hang down at the waist and reach for the toes; next put hands on hips and bend to each side reaching outside hand up and over toward the leaning direction; next gently stretch Achilles tendons with one foot flat behind you while leaning with hands against a wall or bench. Add a couple of stretches you like to finish off, and remember with all stretches, you can prevent strains and pulls by doing doing them s-l-o-w-l-y.
That’s it, a simple 35 minute walk, including a nice stretch at the end. If you haven’t had any exercise in a while, I’m betting you’ll feel pretty good. Do this 4 mornings per week, and in a couple of weeks, you may actually be feeling great!
The first step in moving toward a healthy and fit you is literally, taking forward steps! You just need to move your body, and your body is built for walking (and running). You will feel better, and trust me, you’ll be on your way to getting healthier for BlogWorld!
Next post, we’ll talk about eating light and basics of weight loss.
Tweet me your health & fitness questions! If you need help with health & fitness, or if you’d like to share or discuss training or exercises, tweet me @dave_blogworld and let’s talk about it!
Important: Check with your doctor before any new exercise routine, and get professional guidance and oversight. I’m not a physician, just a social media fanatic like you. If you have injuries, a disability, pain from exercise, or other warning signs that something’s “wrong”, seek medical attention immediately. Being healthy includes being smart, and safe! And remember to hydrate: drink water before and during exercise time; you’ll decrease muscle cramping, avoid overheating and speed muscle recovery.
Disclaimer: Posted health & fitness tips are suggestions and anecdotes provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, readers should consult appropriate health professionals on any matter relating to their health and well-being.