03/17 2010

9 Ways to Burn Calories While Watching March Madness

March Madness is often a topic reserved for males. Or so it seems. I didn’t see any female commentators on Selection Sunday talking about the men’s tournament. And if I go to ESPN’s site, and specifically to the men’s college basketball page, I only see one column written by a woman (way to go Dana!).

But I’m here to tell you that women like basketball, too. Or at least this woman. Even now, I can probably spout off as many statistics as half the male population of Boise. I can tell you what upsets are predicted, what players to watch, how the madness breaks down academically, how office pools negatively impact productivity, and how many people stream the games at work.

Why my obsession with the sport of basketball?

One, I played basketball, albeit I wasn’t all that terrific. After I got off to a rocky start as a sophomore, I later started on my high school team. (I’m #12 on the back row – the hair makes me about 2″ taller).

That's me on the back row wearing #12. I am probably a few inches taller because of all the hair.

Two, I went to school at UNC. I happened to spend my time in Chapel Hill with the likes of Michael Jordan, James Worthy, Sam Perkins, and my personal favorite, Kenny the Jet Smith. Friends and family were always amazed at how much my girlfriends and I knew about basketball.

UNC Number One - again

Three, whenever I have moved to a new city, which has been more times than I might care to admit, I have met TONS of new friends through the Duke/UNC rivalry, especially in Boise .

Four, my husband and I rarely agree on movies or TV shows, so we resort to ESPN as our common ground for entertainment (alongside non-sedentary activities and reading). As you might imagine, that includes hoops.

Not only do I find March Madness highly entertaining, but it’s a great distraction when you want a good excuse not to complete an important project at work. More importantly, it’s a great way to burn calories. Let me show you how.

  1. 1. Cheering for your home team automatically increases your heart rate and releases endorphins. And yes, I realize the tourney has no “heels” this year, just like sandals (thanks Shelley!), but I can still pour that same energy into cheering against Duke (who has a tough match-up against UAPB on Friday).
  2. 2. It is great entertainment while running on the treadmill at the gym. Especially if a game is close, you automatically work much harder and with less pain. A Cinderalla win? At least an extra 100 calories are burned.
  3. 3. Also great for riding the bike trainer at home. The best workout I have ever gotten was last year when UNC played LSU in the second round and was nearly beaten. I don’t think I have pedaled that fast since.
  4. 4. It’s a good excuse to clean the house. After all, it’s hard to justify sitting in front of a television set for hours on end, so cleaning the house is a good way to stay productive while keeping tabs on your bracket. Not only might you burn some calories, especially if you repeatedly run back into the TV room to check out exciting plays, but you will have a sparkling house to show for it.
  5. 5. And do laundry. Same as #4 above. Only you will have nice, clean clothes to show for productive efforts.
  6. 6. And do boring kitchen chores like peeling/slicing fruit, making pesto and throwing out moldy food in the fridge. Watching March Madness is a perfect time to carry out chores you might otherwise procrastinate doing.
  7. 7. It’s also a wonderful time to stretch. I advocate stretching at night when you are conversing with your family, watching Dancing with the Stars (or other show you might happen to like), or even drinking a glass of wine (which is good for you, by the way, in moderation of course). I plan to get in a month’s worth of stretches during March Madness this weekend. And stomach crunches? Here I come!
  8. 8. Ride your bike to a local sports bar to watch the games. Though you might end up consuming more calories at the bar than getting to the bar, at least you’ll have your bike tuned and ready for the next ride. It’s warming up, after all!
  9. 9. Organize your recipes. Apparently, I need some improvement in this area (for those of you who missed all the Facebook comments). So perhaps I should be taking advantage of an opportunity to put my food-stained recipes into plastic covers (and perhaps throwing some away from the 1980′s). It may not burn as may calories as stretching and cleaning, but it’s better than being a total couch potato.

I realize many of you may not like basketball, but these same calorie burning tips can be applied towards any sport you follow. In the meantime, go Louisville. May the Cinderalla gods be with you.

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