Running While You Study – Not As Crazy As it Sounds

A TrekDesk Work Station
A TrekDesk Work Station

I once coached a student-athlete who had the most peculiar study habits.

Like many students, she often found herself falling asleep shortly after opening her books. Her solution to this problem was unique. She began studying during exercise sessions. She would prop a book on her elliptical trainer or treadmill and read while pounding out the miles.

Soon, hitting the books became synonymous with hitting the gym. It became common to see her with a handful of notes while doing laps on her neighborhood indoor track. She once ran 100 laps while doing a review for exams.

When she began this routine, she could hardly be called an athlete. In fact,  this study-exercise combination helped her to drop 30 pounds and elevate herself from a recreational jogger into a second-team All-Canadian runner over the course of several years.

Having seen her attempt to study on a number of road trips (10 minutes-and-asleep), I always thought that her study strategy was pretty smart. In fact, it made sense, since she was using her brain while it was in a highly oxygenated and receptive state.

However, I must admit that I considered her study habits…unusual.

But no more. A company is now selling treadmills specifically for studying and working. Trumpeting the advantages of combining physical with mental exercise, TrekDesk now makes complete workstations that fit over any treadmill and allow you to walk while you work.

Apparently and unknowingly, my student was on the cutting-edge of exercise innovation.

I have absolutely no connection to TrekDesk, but you can take a look at their website at the following link:  TrekDesk

And my student-athlete who could only study while on the run? She’ll be finishing law school this Spring and will be articling with a firm she has worked with for the past two summers. They love her.

I just hope they have a treadmill in their law library.


Dick Moss, Editor,

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[tags]fitness,exercise,studying while exercising[/tags]

If They Can Block-Schedule Physical Education, Why Not Lunch?


Although physical educators have long realized the importance of Quality Daily Physical Education, the need for such programs is still not a priority for parents and policy makers. This is highlighted by the fact that many school boards still use block-scheduling for physical education classes. That is, they schedule a child’s PE classes in either the first or second semester instead of providing them throughout the school year.

Unfortunately, the administrators who make educational policy are often academics with no grounding in physical fitness—their decisions are based on efficiency rather than sound physiological principles.

This problem were amusingly illustrated as far back as 1990, in a book by Gordon Stewart called “Running Through My Mind.” In this book, he described the thoughts of Dr. Bill Ross of the Department of Kinesiology at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby British Columbia.

Here’s an excerpt from Mr. Stewart’s article, “Games Children Should Play.”

“In spite of the overwhelming evidence of its value, daily physical education is still more a dream than reality. Some schools move even farther from the ideal with a system known as block scheduling, where a subject is taught every day one semester and not at all the next.”

Ask Dr. Ross about block scheduling and he gets even more worked up than he does about childhood games.

“The biological nature of children and youth must be a mystery to educational planners who schedule physical education for students one semester and leave it out the next,” says Dr. Ross. “If they want to be efficient, they should do the same with lunch.

“A lunch period every day is really inefficient. Why not five lunches every Monday? A student could get all his eating finished on the first day of the week and not disrupt his schedule for the remaining four days.

“Ridiculous? No more so than scheduling physical education every day one semester and omitting it from the timetable the next semester. Exercise is a metabolic activity every bit as much as eating is. Daily physical activity is crucial for normal growth and development.”

So where does this leave us? If block-scheduling is here to stay, intramural sports and after-school sports activities are crucial. But a more logical step is to lobby against the crazy practice and to lobby for quality daily physical education.

Reference: Excerpt reprinted with permission of the publisher: Gordon W. Stewart, “Games children should play,” from Running Through My Mind, Victoria: 3S Fitness Group Ltd., 1990.

Dick Moss, Editor,

To check out the PE website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,fitness,children's health, PE scheduling>[/tags]

Can You Use CrossFit In Physical Education Classes?

A trend in physical education has been to make PE classes less difficult so that every student can enjoy them. So here’s a concept that bucks that trend. It uses a fitness program called CrossFit to make special classes more difficult and challenging. And in at least one high school, it has been extremely successful.

The video above shows an example of how Crossfit concepts can be used in a high school physical education setting, as a program for students who want to work harder than in their traditional PE classes.

For those of you not aware of CrossFit, it’s a strength and conditioning program that employs a mix of aerobic, gymnastics, body weight and Olympic lifting exercises. The exercises are described as “constantly varied function movements” that employ some equipment that you might already have in your storage room, including dumbbells, barbells, jump ropes, gymnastics rings, medicine balls, pull-up bars, kettlebells, plyometric boxes, rowers, resistance bands, and mats. The program is flexible, however, and can be adapted to your existing equipment.

The following types of exercise might be used in a WOD ( or Workout of the Day – this term is used in the video): powerlifting, plyometrics, calisthenics, weight lighting, body-weight exercises, high intensity intervals, running, swimming, indoor rowing and more.

The goal is to improved fitness in 10 different areas: cardiovascular endurance, strength, stamina, speed, flexibility, power, balance, coordination, agility, and accuracy.

While Crossfit is an exercise philosophy, it’s also a competitive fitness sport, with the CrossFit Games conducted every year since 2007. It’s also a commercial enterprise, with over 10,000 affiliated gyms now using it in their exercise offering.

By the way, the term “AMRAP” which was also used in the video, means “as many reps as possible.”


Dick Moss, Editor,

To check out the PE website, click here
Physical Education Update

Footprint Tag Takes
Advantage of Snowy School Yards

Well, much of the upper U.S. and ALL of Canada are currently under a blanket of snow..and I’ve heard it’s not much better for our European readers.

While the snow does present challenges to teachers, it also presents some amazing opportunities to have fun during recess and physical education classes. For example, how many times do you get to engage in activity in which you are cushioned every time you fall down?

Here’s a game that you can use in PE class that takes advantage of a unique property of snow – the fact that walking or running in snow leaves footprints.

The game is called Footprint Tag. While the kids shown in the video are pre-school age, you can use it with almost any age of student.

Have fun. If you can’t beat Old Man Winter….have fun with him!




Dick Moss, Editor,

To check out the PE website, click here
Physical Education Update

[tags]physical education,winter activities,footprint tag,tag games>[/tags]

A Boy and His Dog and Active Fun in the Summer Sun


This gallery contains 1 photo.

Why this video? Simple. It’s a wonderful demonstration of the joy of movement, shared between a boy and his dog. And isn’t the joy of movement what physical educators are trying to impart to their students? (And who knew that you can not only ride skateboards, you can also chew them). ! I can’t think of better images to leave Continue reading A Boy and His Dog and Active Fun in the Summer Sun

Obesity, Hunger, Inactivity and the Search for Hidden Answers

Hi Readers,

I just received this email from long-time reader and physical educator, David Flax of South Africa. It raises some interesting questions about our perception of the causes of obesity, hunger and lack of activity.


“Hi Dick,

This is the newsletter written by the Principal of our High School… It is what Prof Tim Noakes had to say. Tim is the leading sports scientist in S.A. and the author of The Lore of Running. A kitkat is the name of a chocolate bar that we have. At most road races the participants are given a goodie bag with wine gums and a kitkat.

If you want to use it you are most welcome to it….Keep well



“Dear King David Community,

Boy Eating CandyThis week 250 school leaders, representatives from over 600 independent schools in this country and some from Australia and the UK, collected in Cape Town at the annual SAHISA conference to compare notes – in both formal and informal forums – on educational best practice. As is often the case, some of the most helpful discussions happened at mealtimes or in the bar before and after meals…

Many of the talks were inspiring, some challenging and I am happy to say that some of them very affirming. One, however, in particular is worth mentioning. It was delivered by professor Tim Noakes, Head of the UCT Exercise Science and Sports Medicine Research Unit and involved a book published in the early 1860s by a very fat undertaker, William Banting. (Banting’s information came from a certain Dr Willian Harvey, who in turn got his ideas from a Parisian, Dr Bernard.) This was the first recorded modern publication to do with a diet based on limiting the intake of refined, easily digestible carbohydrates.

At one point Tim Noakes held up the contents of the little goodie bag we had been presented at the beginning of the conference: a bag of wine gums and a kitkat, simple carbohydrates which he informed us would have so spiked our insulin and disrupted healthy nutrition that we would almost certainly notice a change in our energy absorption and our vitality for the rest of the day. Should we eat that amount of useless calories – he informed us – we could expect to increase our BMI significantly and experience a expansion of our mass by as much as 5kg in three months – just from consuming these two items every day. (I felt chastened – I had eaten the Kitkat before I got to the top of the stairs and the wine gums long before I eventually found my room.)

The really interesting part of Prof Noakes’s discussion though, was to do with the counter-intuitive notion that if insulin production results in one’s body storing as fat the energy presented as simple carbohydrates, the body would not then release this stored energy. This person would then be stimulated to feel hungry – since not enough energy was released. And also because the body was in conservation mode, there would be a significant drop in the fat person’s willingness to participate in physical activity.

Noakes’s point is that fatness causes hunger and lack of activity – and I had always believed that the causal links worked in the opposite direction: that one was fat because one ate too much and exercised too little. Surely this was as obvious as night following day?

On how many occasions did I hear my white-eye browed colleague tell all his pupils that we were lazy or stupid or incompetent, that we just could not…? I now know that he may have often been right, but I also know that he (and many others of his generation) was very often wrong and that he did a great deal of damage to many pupils.

From Noakes’s argument it is no great leap to question our educational models, to re-evaluate how learning happens and to think about what it is that makes a child a happy and successful pupil and a school leaver who takes on the world believing that she can.

There are so many occasions when the obvious and apparent answers not always the correct ones and that as parents and teachers, our job is sometimes think like fat undertakers and to look for processes and functions that are far from the evident. This may be to do with learning styles, recognizing different intelligences in children, helping children to plan or, as in my daughter’s case, simply to stop procrastinating for fear of failure and to get on with the job at hand.”



Dick Moss, Editor,

To check out the PE website, Click Here!
To subscribe to the free Fun Stuff for PE Newsletter, Click Here!

[tags]physical education,obesity,childhood obesity,inactivity,exercise/code>[/tags]