Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Guest Post: Exercise

First, let me specify something: I’m not a Phd in any of the following elements. I’m a simple physical education student, first degree. And I’m passionate about sports. All the next tips and notions come from my classes and my personal experiences.


It’s funny to think that our whole person was born for one purpose. To move. 

From the very initial development of our muscles and bones to the first connections of our brain cells, we were conceived to move. Thanks to the ancient bearded men who grunted and stood up years and years ago, ancestral basic gestures are written in our DNA. Among these gestures are running, throwing, catching, jumping, and so many more. Of course, an active childhood and receiving physical education helps out. But no matter what our upbringing is, the potential is still there. We live our modern life with the same capacities of some bearded guys chasing mammoths. 

Today, our reality is different. The mammoth has been replaced by the office computer and the long walks across the woods or the plains were replaced by Monday morning traffic. So here we are. Stuck in an almost complete immobile state, stressed out and always searching for more time in our crazy schedules. The bearded guy inside of us still feels the need to run, but we become accustomed to this inertness. 

So, stress increases daily. Our body gets tired, fragile, easily sick and injured. And for most of us, moving is not a common, easy thing. We try to avoid it. Because normal muscular wounds are painful, as are our unused knee and leg bones after the shocks of a run. 

I think the first notion to remember is that, whatever we think, our body can move. Wants to move. It’s made for it. Even our brain is.  

You might see a lot of stuff about how many kilometers you should run to stay in shape, how many minutes you should bike to keep a flat belly. But the most important thing to remember is how much you need to love the activity you’ll do. If you love it, if you are like “ Hey, I can’t wait for my aerobics class !”, it might be hard, but give it a chance and you just might be nicely surprised about the mental, physical and emotional benefits. You feel better, calmer, more confident, dynamic and open to new challenges, on top of being more concentrated at work. 

Try different things, there’s no lack of choices today, whether you live in the countryside or the innercity. Some people are looking (maybe unconsciously) for an activity with rhythmic music. Others want their sport to be an introspection bubble, a place where they can finally escape their crazy schedule. Physical activity can be urban or in the wild, in a group or alone, competitive or easygoing. Here are some ideas.

The Very Cool These Days:
-Yoga: Existing under many forms (Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Hatha, Bikram…). And don’t get scared about meditation stuff. Today, there are probably more yoga groups with a modern approach than the opposite. Without being restricted to one purpose, the different styles teach you how to breathe, develop muscular endurance, flexibility and certain core fitness…in a relaxing atmosphere! 

-Indoor Climbing: Intimidated about the complexity and essential alertness of rock climbing? Indoor climbing is the new fancy thing. Climbing has an extraordinary capacity for complete personal development because it pushes you both mentally and physically, and it pushes you out of your comfort zone.  And when you’re ready for the outside (original) version, it just gets better! 

-Crossfit: Its popularity brings people to start saying they do crossfit when they don’t. In reality though, Crossfit is an ingenious mix between gymnastics and weightlifting, and is composed of organized workouts mostly in small groups. It’s a complete training method, with an accent on the strength-endurance quality. Designed for people who want to surpass their body’s limits. 

Some Classics We Can’t Forget:
-Squash: Like many racket sports…very hard on the cardio and it’s really fun! 

-Boxing: We could include muay thai, judo, karate, and kick-boxing. All martial arts are welcome for the different levels offered and the social factor! But you have to choose wisely, by looking for information… comments on the Internet for example. Many gyms give beginners classes without a single fight, others are not as nice. 

-Aerobics class: Zumba, Cardio-Boxing, Boot-Camp…they’re all creative, joyful and dynamic. 

-Spinning: A good alternative for bike lovers in winter. 

-Running: The first and most natural sport we can do! 

-Biking: From a short trip on the closest cycling route (or bike path) to a big bike trip, there are so many possibilities. 

-Swimming: Widely considered as the sport that is easiest on joints. 

To finish, here are some tips about running, cause I love it. 

It’s the most ancient and natural physical movement (after walking) that we own. And yet, a majority of people I know hate running. Cause it’s hard. It’s painful. It hurts knees, lower back, hips. Some people even told me they consider jogging as dangerous because of the cars, on avenues without sidewalks. 

Here are some advantages and solutions.
-If done at an appropriate intensity, running is the most energivore of all sports. One of the reasons is that a lot of muscle mass is used and so our heartbeat accelerates quickly. 

-Cardiovascular trainings, like running, stimulate secretion of a pretty nice amount of endorphins, which leads your body to feel really, really good after a workout. 

-Running is affordable and easy to do. No need for an indoor gym, some special or fancy gear or a long technique learning period. All you need are sports clothes (you can easily find some at thrift shops), extra layers of sports clothes for running in winter, and a good pair of running shoes. Once you are well-equipped, you’re ready to go, anytime, anywhere. My personal advice: don’t believe what sportswear companies will tell you about some incredible new Evolved Gel Cushioned sole technology, and bla bla bla. The main difference is that they are more expensive. Any shoe that is flexible, breathable and fit to your foot will do a great job. Nothing ever proved that these new technologies are actually working. 

Check out the minimalist way. It’s not perfect, because we are no Ethiopians or Tarahumara hunters, who were raised bare foot. It works out differently for everybody. But the principle is very interesting. Ask yourself the question: how do I run bare foot? For the great majority of us, we land on the mid-foot and the fore-foot, not on the heel. Whatever shoe you wear, try to run that way, just five minutes for starting. Your calves will get sore, yes. But personally, after a slow progression, it helped me to reduce my knee pain. And finally, I always run on mid-foot, now. And I don’t feel knee pain anymore. 

-Finally, if you want to go running but you feel you’ll need some motivation, try running with a friend who’s at the same level! It will probably help you to find the initial energy to go, and after a while, you’ll feel a need for it and it will be easy to go for a run. Some really good books and articles exist about running programs. Choose a program that is just right for you. No too easy. Not too hard.

Don’t forget…the most important thing about sports, is to have fun! 


This guest post was written by Jeremie Bourdages-Duclot. 


  1. A very inspiring post :) maybe I'll go for a jog when Mikey wakes up!
    Question for Jeremie--have you read Brain Rules by John Medina?

  2. Jackie - Did you go for a jog? I have told Jeremie about your question so hopefully he can answer you soon!