Sunday, March 10, 2013

Proof that it's all exercise

Today I did not officially "work out." I did go down to USA Production's South Bay Duathlon and volunteer. I was on my feet from 5:45 am to about 12:15 am. I was handing out packets, running around looking for people who had answers to my questions, and later on I was bending down taking off timing chips and picking up water bottles out of a kiddie pool full of ice to hand out. Earlier in the day, it was cold, cold, cold, so I was bouncing and dancing to the music and waving my hands trying to keep warm. I was also screaming (Go, SVTC!) and cheering and chatting with friends.

I had a blast and when I came home my BodyMedia FIT showed the following:

Apparently being a volunteer takes a lot of energy! No wonder I was so hungry.

As you can see, I'm on target to burn a similar amount to the days when I'd go for a medium run or a short bike ride. In fact, I burned a little more today than yesterday when I officially worked out by swimming (side note: swimming!)

I had a conversation once with someone who was beating themselves up because they weren't making time to go the gym every day. They described an enormously busy day that included volunteering at their kid's school and chasing after toddlers. Then they said they were too tired to go to the gym followed by "but I know that's just an excuse."

But is it? It is if their volunteering included sitting on their duff all day and their "chasing" after their toddlers involved parking them in front of the tv, then, yeah, it's an excuse. But if they were shopping and dancing and chasing them on the playground, then they might be burning 2000 calories a day too. In which case, they can go to the gym to do cardio or strength training (which have other benefits) some other day that isn't quite so busy and cut themselves a break.

At least that's what I told her.

Clearly, if one of your goals of working out is to burn calories, then just having an active life can do that without formal exercise. You don't have to go to a gym, take a Zumba or Pilates class or go for a run. We do those things for other reasons besides burning calories -- though the calories burned are nothing to sneeze at either and can be part of the motivation.

There used to be a time when we mostly all moved around just as part of our life. Now often we mostly don't. So then we take up hobbies to make up for it. It sets up these weird dichotomies, I think. Ones where we think dancing isn't exercise but walking is but only if we deliberately take a walk in special workout clothes with a sports watch that records our pace.

One thing I like about my Bodymedia FIT is that it can jerk me out of that kind of thinking by showing me that going for a run but then sitting in front of the TV for the rest of the day is the fitness equivalent of running errands. Sometimes it's a bit shocking in fact. Not today. I knew today was a burning day. But other days when it's more subtle and I need a little kick in the fitness pants.

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