Back off Al Gore, we don’t need no stinkin’ internet (well, maybe just a little bit)


Al Gore's brain child (Courtesy of Google)

I feel – refreshed. I’ve just  found a young person who is not obsessed with the internet.Or Facebook. Or constantly texting and Twittering. For security reasons, I’ll call her  “M.” M is a college student. She uses the internet when she needs to for school or convenience, but she doesn’t have internet access at home. No constant obsession with Facebook. She has  a FB account, but doesn’t really use it much. She can’t shoot off quick status updates or emails to her friends. Instead, she might actually have to call someone, or gasp, talk to them in person. M is not a Luddite; she’s just  a refreshingly practical person who decided that  internet access is low priority compared to all the other places her money needs to go. M is one of my climbing wall buddies. On Wednesday nights while she is scrambling all over the wall like one of the Flying Wallendas, her peers are sitting somewhere drinking high-calorie lattes’ and tapping away at their computers or phones.  M is studying exercise science and outdoor recreation, a focus that could no doubt lead her to a career  someday of getting overweight people to be active and play outside. She shouldn’t have any trouble finding a job, since about 50% of our population is now either overweight or obese

I came home after this conversation feeling renewed and nostalgic, just in time to catch most of Modern Family. Yes, I know here I am expounding about  people sitting around too much and then I come home and watch TV. But I had just been to the gym, so give me a break.

Anyway, in this episode, the mom Claire becomes concerned that her family is spending too much time sitting and using electronic devices. She bans the use of anything electronic for a week  – computer, cell phone, video games, iPad, Pod, Touch, etc and offers a prize to the person who lasts the longest. Of course, in no time at all Claire tries to make an airline reservation by phone instead of online, and quickly caves when she finds out how difficult it is.

Internet, electronic devices – blessing or curse? They’re great for convenience for things like making reservations, instant communication, online banking,

Huffygirl playing outside, pre-internet (© Huffygirl)

shopping and the like. But they can become a curse when they keep us from talking to the person right in front of us, or so occupy us with inactivity that we no longer play outside. I’m concerned when I see a group of people sitting together texting and playing with their phones instead of talking to each other. Or when I see children who are great at video games, but no longer play outside games. And don’t even get me started on our obesity epidemic – that’s another blog all together.  Can we temper our electronic device use to a sensible level like M?  Your comments please. Meanwhile, I’m going for a bike ride.

© Huffygirl

Why America is Overweight, Part II: Inactivity


Inactivity beckons. As more and more manufacturing jobs leave our country, our workplace has become more sedentary. We sit at computers for hours; we don’t even have to leave our seats to hand out a memo or send a file. We telecommute – don’t even need to walk to our cars or work. We never have to run to catch a ringing phone – our phones are attached to our bodies, always with us. We can shop from the comfort of our laptops – no more slogging through the mall unless we really want to. Our children sit for much of the school day. In many places recess and gym have been eliminated, to accommodate decreasing funds and more didactics. Once at home, over 100 TV channels beckon. We sit at our computers again, surfing the web, catching up on Facebook and email (yes, I’m guilty too).  Americans are becoming more and more a sedentary people. It is estimated that over half of American adults do not engage in any regular physical activity.  http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=3040447

Statistically we are becoming heavier, with this inactivity creep contributing to our collective overweight. In recent years experts have recommended ways to combat inactivity. You’ve all read these pithy articles in the magazines and the health section of the paper. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, park at the far side of the parking lot, take 10 minute breaks at your desk to stretch, do Yoga or Pilates. Instead of sitting in front of the TV, play active games like Wi Fit or Dance, Dance Revolution. These short bursts of activity are thought to help compensate for some of our inactivity. They also help relieve fatiguing postures, vary our routines, keep us mentally alert, improve circulation and muscle tone. Some say that accumulated bursts of short activity contribute to aerobic fitness and prevent weight gain. http://www.fitsugar.com/You-Asked-Short-Bursts-Exercise-Beneficial-817711  This varies greatly for individuals and is influenced by factors such as baseline fitness level, lean muscle mass, caloric intake and other activity levels. Most experts agree that adding short bursts of activity throughout the day at worst does not hurt, and at best, helps offset instances of inactivity. 

If you do an online search on exercise recommendations, you’ll find most are recommending 30 minutes of aerobic, aka heart-pumping activity 5-7 days of the week.  Guidelines vary with age and ability; you can find more information by clicking on this link: http://www.americanheart.org/presenter.jhtml?identifier=1200013 The 30 minutes per day recommendation is for maintaining fitness. For weight loss, the recommendation is 45-60 minutes of exercise, at a level intense enough to burn 400-500 calories per session 5-7 days of the week. To maintain weight, you again need 45-60 minutes of exercise 5-7 days a week, but not quite as intense as for weight loss. More info here: http://www.weightwatchers.com/util/art/index_art.aspx?tabnum=1&art_id=24521&sc=806 

In reality, this level of exercise is difficult to maintain.  For those not currently exercising at this level, it will require a change in lifestyle to fit this into our schedules. This may take some time and gradual adjustments to our routines, and require giving up something else we’re doing to make it all fit.

Take the exercise quiz:  http://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/obesity/phy_act.htm#1true. Do an online search of exercise and activity recommendations. Tailor your plan to fit your age, ability and any physical limitations you have. Figure out what you need to do to get moving.  Post your comments to share what is working for you.