Zoom. Stretch. Zoom

University classes here don’t begin until mid-September but south of the border friends are already teaching their first classes, most of them online, or in “remote alternative delivery mode” as we like to say during the pandemic. That’s to distinguish them from courses that have been designed as online courses.

We’re all just getting used to it. Everything is new. For professors and students alike. It’s not what we want. We mostly want to be teaching face to face in a world without a pandemic. But this is what we have and we’re all doing our best.

A friend taught her first class and spotted a student doing sit ups during the class. Oops! A clear breach of Zoom etiquette not to turn off the camera first.

Really, the student was just following the advice of the New York Times, Sneak in Some Exercise: “When you can’t slip outside for a walking meeting, turn off the video and sneak in a short desk workout or stretch session.” Well, except she forgot the ‘turn off your camera” bit.

If I were to turn off my camera (shhh!) I’d do Adriene’s Yoga at Your Desk. Mostly I can’t because mostly I’m chairing meetings. But it’s my favourite workplace at-your-desk set of yoga moves.


walking · weight loss

Walking 10,000 steps a day won’t help you lose weight, but who would have thought that it would?

From the Independent: “Over the last few years, the theory that walking 10,000 steps a day has become popularised as the key to health and weight loss. However, according to a new study, walking 10,000 steps a day won’t actually prevent weight gain, or lead to weight loss.”

I don’t have a lot to say about this start to the story, except….


More on the study: The study took 120 first year university students, all women, and had them walk either 10, 12 or 15,000 steps a day, 6 days a week, for 24 weeks. They also tracked their weights and their calories consumed. On average, no matter what group they were in, the students had all gained 3.5 lbs which is the average amount of weight students typically gain during their first semester of school.

Again, my reaction….

Let me act shocked.

But here is the bit they don’t mention until the end of the story.

“However, the researchers did note that the increased steps meant an overall positive impact on students’ “physical activity patterns,” which they stated “may have other emotional and health benefits””

Why isn’t that the headline? It’s good news. Students struggle with stress and anxiety and all sorts of emotional and mental health issues when beginning university. Why isn’t that the focus rather than the 3.5 lbs they typically gain when confronted with stress and cafeteria style eating?

Probably my biggest complaint about health and exercise reporting is the emphasis on weight loss. If people do it for reasons of weight loss and then don’t lose weight, they quit. And then they miss out on all the real health benefits of physical activity.

I’m with Yoni Freedhoff (again): Exercise is the world’s best drug. It’s just not a weight-loss drug.

Let’s talk about the other benefits of walking lots. I’ve got a post in our drafts folder about the wonders of walking.

It starts like this: “Walking is obviously wonderful. You can’t blink an eye these days without some news about the wonders of walking flash by. It’s a radical act in fast paced world. Walking makes us wiser. It makes us healthier, happier, and brainier. Even philosophers are in on the act. Here’s five philosophers on walking and wisdom. Yet more, why walking helps us think. A few years ago Adam Gopnick penned, Heaven’s Gait: What We Do When We Walk which covers both contemplative walking and walking as a sport.”

So walking is wonderful. It’s not about weight loss. And that’s just fine.

More later about walking and my reflections on walking for those of us who can’t.

cycling · family

Bike to school day is October 8th

From the London Cycle Group:

Get Out of the Car – Take the School Drop-Off Challenge!

If you normally drop your kids off at school, consider getting them back on their bikes. October is “Walk to School” month, and Wednesday, October 8 is “Walk to School” day. Find out more about Active and Safe Routes to School from the Middlesex London Health Unit.

If you don’t have kids but normally drive to work or school, take the challenge yourself! Try to ride your bike to work most days in October. Tell us on our Facebook page how you’re doing!

Bike and Gear

Kids always seem to grow over the summer!

  • Check to make sure their helmet fits well. This video from Schwinn offers a helpful guide to helmet fitting.
  • Check if the seat needs to be raised. The toes of both feet should be able to touch the ground comfortably.
  • Check the bike over at least once a week together with your child. Pump up the tires, make sure the brakes work, and oil the chain. Here are basic instructions for cleaning your chain.


School-age kids may be old enough to travel to school by bike, but your family’s comfort level will decide whether or not parents go, too. Some things to do with kids who want to ride their bike to school:

  • Review the route together.
  • Review turn signals.
  • Make sure their bell is working.


Dress for the weather and to be seen:

  • When kids’ clothing is bright, others will see them better.
  • Together check the weather each day so the kids learn to plan to wear weather-appropriate clothing.
  • Plan for layers – outer wind and rain-resistant shell, with a warmer layer underneath that can be easily taken off at school.


On School Property

When school is in, rules about bikes on school property are designed to make sure all kids are safe:

  • Students are expected to walk their bikes on school property during school hours.
  • Find out where bikes are stored during the school day.
  • Have a lock and practice locking the bike in the storage area.
  • You may want to advise your child’s teacher that your child will be riding to school.