The 23 and 1/2 Hour Challenge (Keep Moving)

(A Frosty February Day in 2011)

Winter is finally here in Long Beach and that leads many of us to burrowing beneath the covers and spending as little time outside as possible. And who can blame you? LB’s winters are particularly harsh as we often deal with strong winds and brutal temperatures.

Yesterday I happened to catch this video on YouTube and thought its timing couldn’t be better.

Its bottom line is that basic fitness (and the lack of it) is the strongest predictor of death. Dr. Mike Evans fills out his argument with countless studies and scholoary papers to make the case that people that move, live longer healthier lives than those that don’t and I stronlgy recomend giving the video a quick watch. Dr. Evans finishes his argument by challenging the viewer to be active for merely 30 minutes a day, therefore limiting your sitting and sleeping for 23 1/2 hours a day.

That really struck me as quite a realiziation. We spend nearly our whole day sitting or lying flat. We’re stuck behind desks. We’re stuck on the train (or in the car). Then we’re zombies on the couch after work wathcging tv or reading LB’s best website (that is a behavior I strongly encourage).

During the summer, Long Beach is a playground of great and easy outdoor fitness: A leisurely bike ride, walking down the boardwalk, a dip in the ocean.

For the adventurous there’s always miles of running, volleyball leagues, surfing, tennis, and all sorts of actiivites in between. It’s sunny till 8pm and the weather is gorgeous.

And then the winter comes and hibernation mode sets in. The nights start at what feels like 2:30 pm and the wind is strong, icy, and seemingly always blowing directly in your face.

Many of us abandon our exceptional levels of activity for that one fact – and it’s as if our playground seemingly closes for the winter.

But that then goes back to the good doctors point, you don’t need to be running a marathons every day. You don’t need to be a winter surfer donning a heavy wetsuit. You just need to keep moving. He argues that research confirms a “dose” of 30 minutes per day of low intensity exercise (walking) has dramatic health benefits across the board. Walking for 30 minutes provides better health benefits than the best drugs on the market and fanciest diets. Simply because it’s cold, one shouldn’t allow their basic health to suffer. So there are a number of ways to do just that and keep yourself moving here at home.

First off, and I think the easiest (and cheapest) way for the Long Beach resident, is the boardwalk. A seemingly little known fact, it is still there during the winter! Those walks/jogs/strolls you did all summer are still permissible, but the crowd of tourists are far diminished, and it takes on a peacfulnnes that you can’t match during the hot months. Yes, it’s cold, but that’s what gloves, a hat, sweatshirt, and sweat pants are for. This isn’t the tundra and were not talking about hours of exposure.

Just as easy, bundle up and hop on your summer cruiser. The only additionally challenge presented by winter biking lie in needing gloves to protect your fingers and sometimes a face mask or scarf if it’s expectionally cold.  And don’t forget a light!

And if none if that works for you, you can always take a half hour and go to one of the dozens of gyms in Long Beach. There’s traditional “pick things up, put them down” gyms like New York Sports Club, kickboxing centers, and now all sorts of new style gyms like Synergy, Kettle Bells, and the new crossfit gym in the West End (which I’ll talk more about in the future) just to name a few.

Hoping a hamster wheel not your idea of a good time? Check out one of the many yoga studios in Long Beach. If you’re really hating the cold – hot yoga is just the thing for you. Doesn’t working out in a near 100 degree room sound like fun? Or you can always take advantage of the indoor facilites and groups at the LB Rec Center.

30 minutes of your day spent moving will help you live a better life. Don’t let the winter stop you! Feel free to drop some more suggestions below.