Sunday, September 06, 2015

Why Nordic Skiers are so smart!!!

Why Walking Helps Us Think

I find it so incredible that researchers and journalists still talk about the link between getting outside and brain function like it is an amazing and new discovery.

I have watched generations of Nordic skiers go through my life and they are the most thoughtful, intelligent and successful individuals I have had the pleasure to meet. I believe this to be no coincidence, they not only spend hours/week outside, mostly in the wilderness, but they do so in motion. Always in motion.

In his book Brain Rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School, John Medina states, "The brain appears to be designed to solve problems related to surviving in an unstable, outdoor environment, and to do so in almost constant motion."

This would describe Nordic Ski training and racing precisely and I believe the athletes with which I have had the pleasure to work exemplify this perfectly.

We'll start with the 10-15 hours/week they spend training and then add the 5-10 hours of fundraising in addition to their school work. In an environment where time is at a premium these young student/athletes spend a large amount of their disposable time training. With this training comes a necessity for more rest and recovery. All told they spend the equivalent of a part time job focused on skiing.

So now you are asking yourself: Are they taking less demanding degrees? Are they barely passing courses?

The resounding answer is NO!

These amazing young people are in some of the most challenging/time consuming degrees offered on campus: Earth Systems Science, Engineering, Math, Economics, Art, Microbiology, Marketing, and Geology. In addition many of them have multiple majors and as well as large contingent with a concurrent major in Environment and Natural Resources.

And not only are they engaged in extremely difficult and time consuming scholarship they rock it in traditional assessments! It is tough to imagine how they find the time to to be such top notch students but they do and they do it day in and day out.

I often say that the ski team is producing a brand of super heroes who are not only in the top 1% of the fittest athletes in this nation but also some of the top academics and if you truly want to be amazed have a conversation with one of them some day. Their grasp of a wide array of conversational topics will make your head spin.

So if our brains are truly meant to solve problems, outside, in constant motion Nordic Ski Team Athletes must be among the best problem solvers in the world!