Thursday, November 14, 2013

Weight loss tip for trevelers: The "DELAYED-FLIGHT AIRPORT WORKOUT"

By Kimberly Williams

It is a damp and dreary Monday evening at O'Hare International. Thunderstorms have made departure delays more common than the myriad fast-food stalls I now pass on my way to my scheduled 9:27 p.m. flight to Philadelphia. What better way to end a day of back-to-back meetings than by wasting an hour here, in the epicenter of poor health decisions - the Cinnabons and Subways, the escalators and moving walkways - the dreaded airport. A giant cinnamon roll probably would make my day a little brighter, so reasons that devil on my shoulder who never seems to tire. And those moving walkways - those are sort of fun. Besides, I deserve to treat myself. This day has been rough, and I've earned some enjoyment!

To make matters worse, I realize that I haven't exercised today. With such a hectic schedule, there was simply no time for it. But suddenly, I realize that I have simply been making excuses. Here, in this sprawling labyrinth of terminals and gates, I am met by what could arguably be deemed a walker's paradise. Consider the following:

  • We burn 60-110 calories for every mile walked at a modest 2 mph.
  • The average stride length of a full-grown human is 2.5 ft.
  • At O'Hare, a simple walk from B1 to B22 and back is roughly 1,800 steps.
  • So, from B1 to B22 and back, we're traveling approximately 4,500 ft., or about 85 percent of one mile. This equates to around 50-90 calories burned.

These figures might seem insignificant, but they certainly add up over the course of an entire hour's walk. During my hour-long delay, I've managed to log 6,000 steps in wonderful O'Hare and have easily exceeded my daily goal of 10,000 logged on my Fitbit activity tracker. And, the craving for that once-tantalizing cinnamon roll has subsided, most assuredly because the casual strolling has put my mind and its endless wants at ease. One healthy decision often leads to another - a phenomenon known to all weight-loss advisors and behavioral psychologists, though not nearly as obvious to the busy professional who might not have the luxury of reflecting on his/her every decision and its possible implications.

But patrolling the airport is mindless and boring. And pointless! This was your old self's reasoning, though you can now be sure a mere hour of walking is far from pointless, especially when attempting to best alter your behavior and mindset for the purpose of sustainably losing weight. "Mindless and boring" shouldn't stop you either, as you can always add some excitement to the mix by leveraging one of the following:

If you're the left-brained, analytical type, then count your steps, track your time and record your numbers. That way, you can calculate how far you've traveled, at what pace and/or any other metric that interests you.
If people tend to fascinate you, then look around! There's no better place to people-watch than at a massive airport, especially when you aren't confined to a single gate or terminal.

If you have a smartphone and headphones at your disposal, you can content yourself with some music or a podcast.

Turn those empty hours into a "Delayed-flight Airport Workout." You'll feel better afterwards, having used your time productively as opposed to simply giving in to those never-ending terminal temptations. These are just a few ideas to help you to make the most of your airport downtime. You'll also be more inclined to repeat the same exercise the next time you find yourself in a similar situation. And that's what sustainable weight loss is all about: changing behavior for the better. Why not spark that change at the airport? Is there really anything better to do? I'll let you determine that for yourself - I've got a flight to catch!

About Kimberly Williams
Prior to becoming chief operating officer at Retrofit, Kimberly served as President of both Restaurant Technology Services and Restaurant Application Development International. Kimberly also served as President of a quarter billion dollar subsidiary of Banta Corporation. In her early career, Williams worked for Boston Consulting Group and Arthur Andersen. She holds a BBA degree from University of Michigan and an MBA degree from University of Chicago. For more information go to

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