Monday, January 31, 2011

Which Burns More Calories - Running Or Walking?

I always assumed running burned a lot more calories than walking, even power-walking.  But someone said to me the other day that they were about the same. Huh?  How can that be?  I will say that as a hard as I do walk, I know (and the results prove it) that I burn a lot of calories, but still the concept seemed almost ludicrous to me.

So, I decided to do some research on the internet to get more data.  Naturally, there were conflicting reports on this subject, and all kinds of variables.  Sorting through all the data, I managed to see that the concept of equal calorie burn is in reference to equal distance traveled, not equal time spent in the activity.  The assumption is that it takes roughly the same amount of energy to cover the same distance, regardless of how quick you get there.  Obviously running one mile will take a lot less time than walking the same mile, but you end up with a high rate of energy burn over a short time span versus a lower rate of energy burn over a longer time span.

Okay, the experts agree on the principle, but research has shown all kinds of twists and turns, due to an assortment of variables, meaning that the answer is fuzzy at best.  Here are two articles to look at:

Both articles do agree on one thing - for rough calculations, you can assume that 100 calories are burned for every mile traveled.  But keep in mind that its only a basic estimate that doesn't take all the other details into mind.  For example, a heavier person will expend more energy covering a mile than a lighter one.


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Great Walking Spot - Long Beach Harbor

Got up this morning and did 4.5 miles in the Long Beach Harbor area.  I think the official name is Shoreline Park, but what the heck, Long Beach Harbor works for me.  I happened to be staying at the Residence Inn Downtown, which is not really downtown, rather its across the harbor from downtown, over near the Queen Mary.  Just over the Queensway Bridge to be exact.  Thus, I first had to hike up to and over the bridge to get over to LB.  No problem, plenty of steps and sidewalks for the occasion and someone had seen fit to block off one lane of the bridge to vehicular traffic, which meant a super wide walking path without risk of getting flattened by one of the cargo trucks whizzing over to the port.

It was a perfect morning, though a bit hazy at 6:30am, with temperatures in the low 60's.  The views are awesome and makes the walk a great experience, even relaxing despite my pace.  I had a co-worker join me and we chatted rather than doing the music thing - something new for me.  We wandered around the harbor area and over to the actual beach where we stopped for a quick photo op.  Due to meeting schedules, we had to turn back and head to the hotel, rather than continuing down the beach.  But on past trips to the area, I have done the beach as well, which also has a nice sidewalk designed specifically for running, walking and biking.  (Walking in the sand is nice for a romantic sunset, but really sux when to comes to power-walking.)

By the way, if you are a CSI Miami fan, they do most of their filming in Long Beach, not Miami!

Another great walk and the place is high on my list of favorites!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Airports Can Be Healthy!

One of the keys to losing weight is committing yourself to an exercise program that you can stick with forever and that fits your lifestyle.  Because travel is an important element of my life, walking is the ideal choice because it can be done anywhere, anytime.  Working out in gyms, for example, is a bad choice if you can't get there everyday.

So, I make use of every opportunity to get those daily steps taken care of.  Minimum goal per day is 10,000 which for me works out to about 5 miles.

Airports, as it turns out, typically provide an excellent venue for walking.  Most people complain about having to go long distances between gates - I prefer it.  The average passenger gets irate over a flight delay.  I relish the opportunity for more walking.

Yesterday I had more than my share of airport walking, as it was two city visits in one day - Atlanta and Long Beach.  First moment of calorie burn was the connection I had to make in Charlotte (see yesterdays post).  Long story short, I got in about 2.5 miles.  Then it was on to Atlanta.

Now the Atlanta airport is definitely one of my favorite walks, as it features an underground subway system between concourses, that provides the option of walking rather than riding the trains.  I arrived on Concourse D and immediately set out on foot to baggage claim, while 99% of everyone else took the train.  It was only about a mile and I move pretty quick.  Its a nice straight, well-lit walkway that is very conducive to walking fast.  Kind of boring, but effective.

It should be noted that between Concourse A and Concourse T there is an African Exhibit complete with art, photos and music.

After I completed my seminar presentation in Atlanta I headed back to the airport for my flight to Long Beach.  Again, I walked the subway route down to Concourse D and easily got in another mile.  My total was now at 4.5 miles from airports alone.  Combined with the other walking I got in during my Atlanta stop, I was up to 6 miles.  But not done yet....

The flight to Long Beach included a connection in Phoenix, where I put in yet another airport mile.  By the time I finally arrived at my Long Beach hotel, my total for the day was over 8 miles. 

Gotta love walking and traveling...

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cutting It Close

I was in the Charlotte airport today making a connection.  Long walk between the two gates, which is good, as I prefer to get in as many steps as possible with every opportunity that comes my way.  In fact, I usually walk every concourse when I'm in this airport which equates to about 3 miles.  But today the connection is kind of tight, so I head straight to my departure gate, getting in only a paltry mile or so.  As I reached into my backpack for my travel wallet, which contains my passport, airline cards, hotel cards, rental car cards, tickets, etc, I found nothing but air.  Panic rolled through me as I dug frantically through all the compartments, only to come up empty handed.  The flight was boarding in 10 minutes and I had no idea where my ID, tickets, etc were.

I closed my eyes and focused on the last time the travel wallet was in my hand.  Ah-ha - my last flight.  I took it out to review some upcoming flights and left it in the seat pocket.  @#$% the other side of the airport and in another plane.  Again a moment of panic as time was the enemy.  Do I report it as lost to the airline in hopes that they can find it and return to me and go ahead and board my next flight?  Good luck with that, especially since my passport was in it.  Or do I high tail it back to the other gate and hope that I can get back to my departure gate before the plane leaves.  It only took a few seconds to make up my mind - and I was off to the races.

This is another example of where fast walking pays off.  I made it back the first gate in record time, with only a handful of people run over in the process.  Luckily, the gate agent was able to retrieve my stuff and I was sprinting across the airport again.  A few minutes later I was at the departure gate and able to walk right on the plane. 

Total time en route for my rescue mission was about 20 minutes and I was able to get about 1.5 miles more onto the pedometer.  So as it turned out, a bad situation worked out for the best in multiple ways.  And I wasn't even tired... a bit sweaty, but what the heck, that's just a symptom of burning off more calories.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Why Do You Eat?

Why do you eat?  I know, sounds like a dumb question, but if take a moment to really think it through, you may find some surprising answers.  The initial response from most people is "cause I'm hungry".  But in reality, most people eat because its meal time or because they are bored.

Who devised the traditional American meal schedule - breakfast - lunch - dinner and why are we so obsessed with sticking to it?  I would say its mostly habit, rather than need.  If you go back in time a couple of hundred years, life was much harder physically, which meant we needed a lot more fuel to manage our lives.  Farm families for example, had fairly rigid meal schedules and tended to eat a lot of food for breakfast (before hitting the fields) and dinner (after a long hard day on the farm) with a minimal lunch to keep them going.  Food and eating wasn't an option, it was a requirement.  Yet most of these people were not extremely overweight because they managed to burn off what they took in.

But today, we all the automation of life, we are much less active and really requre very little in the way of food to fuel our daily activities... how much energy does it take to drive a car, ride and elevator and sit in a chair?????  So for many of us, we gave the the true need for large amounts of food to keep us going, but when that clock ticks around to meal time we are quick to the table.

Now I know some of you will argue that you naturally feel hungry at meal time, and thus you are responding to your bodies natural needs.  But I would venture to say that the supposed hunger pang you are experiencing might be more of a habitual response rather and a physical response.  We have been programmed to eat at certain times since we were children, thus we have been conditioned to a schedule.

As I have ventured along in my weight loss journey, I have focused on eating only when I really am hungry, rather than because its a certain time of day.  The result is that I do routinely skip meals.  Uh-oh - doesn't that violate the advice of all the experts???

First of all, the experts are speaking about generalities - they don't know my body.  True, many people skip meals, then make up for it by overeating later, or increasing the snacks, which just makes things worse.  But if you really work at it, you can break the schedule and replace it with a "eat to satisfy need" mentality.  Sure its tough, but if you can focus on the hunger aspect, you may find that you don't need to eat nearly as much as you think. 

I do NOT starve myself - skipping a meal because I am NOT hungry is not a starvation kind of thing.  Starvation is stupid, because you can't maintain it and your body does need fuel to power it.  Starvation will make you weak, which will decrease your exercise levels, which will negate the weight management efforts.  But choosing not to eat because your body doesn't need the input is not a bad thing.  In fact, I feel better when I eat less - within reason.

Something to think about - actually it takes a lot of thought and focus to make it work, but at least start asking the question at mealtime: "am I really hungry or just following the schedule?"  If you aren't really hungry, then adjust your intake of food to match your need - maybe its just a few bites, maybe its nothing at all... you decide.

Oh, by the way, not being hungry at meal time due to a proliferation of snacks in between, doesn't count either!

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Resolutions - Don't Blow It!

Its a bright, sunny New Years Day here on the Carolina Coast.  Great opportunity to get out on the loop and burn off some of those extra Holiday calories.  Interestingly enough, but not totally surprising, there are a lot of other people with the same idea.  The loop is unusually busy, especially considering its the winter.  For sure, the weather has brought out a lot of the regulars, but there are a lot of newcomers as well, which is obvious.  I don't mean that offensively!  Its a good thing when people decide to take control of their weight management issues.

As I am making my 6 mile trek I take a closer look at those that have hit the pavement for the first time.  Most are enthusiastic, sporting big smiles and talking to others as they pass.  But I wonder how many will be out here tomorrow... or still walking next week or next month?  Sadly the statistics show that no more than 30% of those who try to lose weight will actually succeed at doing it.  Of the 30 or so new people that I counted during my 90 minutes of walking, it can reasonably be assumed that 20 of them won't be out here in March

Another statistic shows that the number one New Years Resolution is to lose weight.  Thus when you combine these two together you realize that a large portion of the population is going to be sadly disappointed with their results...

I say this over and over again - most people fail because they take on exercise and eating programs that they cannot sustain for the rest of their lives!!!!!!  A diet is a short term project, and in most cases an unhappy, stressful thing.  Weight loss is a long term focus that has no end, thus you must modify your eating so that you can still eat what you want and don't feel like you have given up something that you really didn't want to give up.

Exercise has to be constant - every day.  Thus you need ways to do this that are not unpleasant, difficult, or impossible to keep up with.  Thats why I chose walking.  I can do it anywhere, anytime and every step counts.

You can start today by taking the stairs instead of using escalators and elevators!  Park at the far end of the a parking lot instead of near the door.  Take the long route on foot instead of shortcuts.  You won't lose much weight initially, but you will get started down the right path, then everyday you can expand on what you did the day before.  Before you know it, you are spending more time in motion instead of sitting on your butt.

Stay away from gyms and fad diets - devise your own plan. Read my book to see exactly how I did it. Losing weight is not hard, changing your lifestyle is and that is the ultimate key to success. You can't do it overnight - it takes time to make the transformation and a lot of patience.  But putting it off doesn't accomplish a thing. 

Good luck with that New Years Resolution to lose weight and try not to blow it like 70% of your fellow citizens will.