Couch Potato Extreme Make Over

By Luke Kapala
This post is part of a series showcasing the research articles of our Exercise & Wellness students. For more information about our Exercise & Wellness program visit You can also read the PDF version.

Kapala_GraphicDo you ever find yourself lying around the house? The American word for this activity is called being a “couch potato.” It’s sad that America has a name for an activity where all you do is “nothing!” I have done some current research on this particular American epidemic and how surprising one little change in behavior can alter the rest of your life.

We all know about the high risk of becoming a frequent smoker and what the negative side effects it can have on you. Would you believe me that the rise in couch potatoes is becoming more of a threat than smokers? If you think about it for a sec you will soon realize that this is true. Just ask yourself this, when does obesity start to take a toll in a person’s life? The average age of a kid who is obese starts at the age of 2-5 which has doubled since 1980. This is very real and it’s only increasing due to inactivity and simply America letting its people become less and less healthy without taking action to stop this epidemic. This epidemic can simply be avoided by two things. One, eat a more healthy diet that doesn’t include fast food and high calorie foods. Secondly you need to avoid living a sedentary life which can lead to many health issues now and in the future. Although there is no exact formula on how much you should work out a day and how much calories you should burn a day. Research has shown that simply replacing your down time with walking that patients will have a decrease in knee arthritis by 47%, Alzheimer’s by 50%, Diabetes 58%, Anxiety by 48%, Depression by 30-47% and the list goes on and on. This simple active exercise is what most Americans don’t realize how much it can affect their life in a positive way.

23 and ½ hours
There is a great motivational video done by a Professor about how walking and being more active can have a huge impact on our lives. Here’s a link to his video:

So the next time you just don’t feel in the mood to move, just think about your future and how you wish you could of taken better care of your body. There will always be an excuse you can think of that will make you want to be a couch potato for a day. Don’t give into that lifestyle and change your future forever!

Childhood Obesity in the United States. (2014, July 5). Retrieved November 11, 2014, from

Hamer, M., Stamatakis, E., & Steptoe, A. (2014). Effects of Substituting Sedentary Time with Physical Activity on Metabolic Risk. Medicine & Science

Comida, comida and más comida

IMG_20140723_123417572The typical schedule for eating here has taken some getting used to for me. Before we leave the house in the morning we eat. So around 7 or 7:30 a.m. we have a very hearty breakfast. On the table we have been served fresh fruit, oatmeal, tortillas, or maybe even some pancakes. You can have a light snack around 11 but it’s nothing formal. Then our next big meal is around 3 or 5 in the afternoon. This is “la comida”, the largest meal of the day. But for my American stomach it’s a long wait from breakfast. My housemother and housemates are vegetarian so we have been having wonderful meatless dishes. Sometimes she will make me a separate entrée with meat. These are some of the meals Pilar, our señora, made us: Continue reading

Not All Fun and Games

IMG_20140722_090520852We have been following a very busy schedule here in GTO. We are working closely with the University of Guanajuato to achieve our goal of (brief) cultural immersion. Our language classes start at 8 a.m. So we have to leave the house to walk down to the University at 7:30. Azul, Elizabeth and I are taking Intermediate Grammar, Mexican Literature, Mexican HistoryIMG_20140724_125240630 and Intermediate Conversation. The Literature and History classes are fascinating. There is so much I don’t know about my neighboring country to the south. For example we studied a poem by Sor Juana, a famous nun who lived in the 1600’s, and it was powerful and very edgy for the time period.

After four hours of class we typically have a short break before having a specialty lecture/tour from a faculty at the university. We have learned about the history of the university, the libraries (they have three major ones on campus), and the fine arts program, just to name a few. My favorite was a visit to the historical archives where they have collections of really, really old books. The pride of the archives is a book published in the late 1400’s! You know, only 500 years old, give or take. We got to, very carefully and with gloves on, handle the book. Continue reading

Day Trip’n: Part 2

IMG_20140725_140516759Friday and Saturday we followed the “Freedom Route” which traces the path of the start of the Mexican War of Independence in 1810. It all officially started with Miguel Hidalgo giving the “grito” in the town of Dolores Hidalgo. We visited his house that is now a museum. We stood in front of the famous church where Hidalgo called on the people to rise up in rebellion. And we ate a lot of ice cream. It turns out that Dolores Hidago is also famous for its ice cream. As a lover of ice cream I felt that it was my duty to sample many of the flavors. The thing that makes the ice cream here so well known is the variety of flavors. They have sweet and savory, think of a flavor and you can probably find it here. I sampled the following flavors:IMG_20140725_121120176

  • avocado ice cream (surprisingly yummy)
  • shrimp and octopus ice cream (not surprisingly rather gross)
  • and rose petal ice cream (reminded me a lot of a rose lassi, different but good)

Atotonilco, a very small pueblo, was our next stop. They have a very beautiful mission style church and a small mercado (market) with lots of religious merchandise. Apparently they had just had a big festival the previous week so the town was decorated with flowers and streamers. It looked like something out of a movie. Continue reading


IMG_20140724_193654834We are now in the historic town of Guanajuato, known affectionately by locals as GTO. Picture a Spanish colonial town nestled in the far end of a small valley. There are IMG_20140722_164417628brightly colored buildings lining narrow winding streets. There are many quiet parks, plazas with fountains, and interesting churches. Colorful flowers spill over balconies. Now add street vendors and street performers. This gives you a tiny sample of this amazing city. One of our group says she feels like she is in a Disneyland version of an old Mexican town, in all the best ways. And I haven’t even mentioned the wonderful artisan shops and restaurants.

Given its layout, this is a walking town. The locals say that the fastest way to get around is just to walk but no one seems to be in a hurry to get anywhere. This may be due to the fact that there are also inviting benches in the plazas, pleasant outdoor cafes, and strolling musicians. Continue reading