As geeks, our keen interests in books, games, computers, and other media can easily lead us down the path of a sedentary lifestyle and poor fitness habits. The Fit Geek is here to help you integrate fitness into your geeky lifestyle so you can live a fuller, healthier, and longer life! For our inaugural post, George Richard talks a little bit about that name.
The Fit Geek. What does that mean, anyway?
Fit is, of course, short for fitness. But one person’s idea of fitness is Adonis, while another’s is the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (round is a shape, after all). One person’s jog in the park is another’s torturous, endless exercise wheel. One person’s exercise wheel is another’s marathon. It’s all dependent on your history, your existing fitness level, and what you want. You have to decide what you want your personal fitness level to be; in other words, you have to know yourself.
And geek, what’s that mean? Since you’re reading Twin Cities Geek, I’ll assume you identify yourself at least somewhat as one. Everyone is a geek about something! Cars, Star Trek, football (European or American), horses, flags, knitting, even math—the number of geekdoms available reaches to infinity and beyond. The idea that all geeks are sedentary, fat, and out of shape is as wrong as thinking there are only fantasy or computer geeks.
True, now more people are employed in jobs that put them in cubicle farms or in front of computer screens for hours at a time, so sometimes it’s not easy to make time for yourself. The idea that “in shape” has to mean He-Man or She-Ra is wrong. We’re given a false sense of what is physically possible by popular culture and the media: most action stars spend six to eight hours a day working out in preparation for their roles, and even then 70-plus-year-olds can easily break a leg on set.
Since this will be hopefully be read by geeks at all different levels of fitness, I’m going to start slow for the beginners. I hope the workout kings and queens will bear with me. “Physically fit” to me is keeping your body in a condition that lets you do what you want without feeling physically taxed or endangering your health. Regular physical activity improves your overall health and reduces the risk of several chronic diseases. I’ve always thought that my mind was me and my body carried me around, but until I get a new robot body it’s up to me to use my mind to control and keep this body in good condition to provide a home for me. The side effect is that the better shape the body is in, the more fun it is to operate. It depends on the time, effort, and commitment you can hold to, not the money you want to spend. The standard advice is to consult a physician before beginning an exercise routine. That’s not a bad idea, but unless you’re in an extreme condition, there’s no need to call the doctor before you begin walking around the block. On the other hand, if your goal is a triathlon and you’ve had no exercise routine at all, then yeah, consult a physician.
Having tackled the standard warning and you’re still breathing, let’s get our feet wet. Since you’ve decided you want to be more active and start reaping the results, decide what you want to do and do it. One of the best and worst things you can do is use those memories of the baseball games you used to play, the tennis matches, swimming, even just running around as a kid. Glory days. Find something you like to do and gradually work into it. The reason this is the best is the positive associations these memories bring; the reason it can be the worst is that jumping in with both feet before you’re physically capable is a problem. Most folks can go out and take a stab at anything for an hour or two and feel good doing it. The problem is coaxing those aching muscles and joints back out a second or even a third time. The old saying is that slow and steady wins the race, so start off slow and keep steady at it. Just 30 minutes a day of aerobic activity—walking, Wii Fit, dancing, bowling, biking, or anything else that gets your heart rate up—is all it takes. The goal is two hours and 30 minutes: 30 minutes a day, five days a week. The CDC says you can even break it up into 10-minute chunks! Try different things, but try them. If you can get up and do it for three weeks, you will have a new habit, and a good one you can carry with you and enjoy for the rest of your life.
Visit the CDC website on health and exercise for their full guidelines. And remember: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, but don’t fret—you’re just going around the park.