Saturday, August 15, 2009

Who needs exercise?- according to TIME

Just about every blogger who occasionally mentions fitness or nutrition has discussed this article. There is no doubt that the idea that exercise does NOT work is appealing on one level. There are plenty of days were the walk from my couch to the fridge seems daunting enough, let alone going for a run! It is also true that many, many people in this country would benefit from a nutritional make over- and that healthy eating is an essential part of weight loss.

But let's get real, shall we?

There is so much more to being healthy than weight loss alone. A healthy lifestyle is a multidimensional way of living: eating choices, activity level, sleep, self-awareness and more. Of course, that "way of living" requires that we actively consider the consequences of the decisions we make everyday, that we be deliberate in those decisions.

In this article, John Cloud wittily observes that exercise makes you hungrier!

Stop the presses. Really?!

Does the man realize that calories represent a measurement of energy? As in fuel? Or any of the other scientifically tested aspects of exercise, nutrition, weight loss, etc? Of course not! Because what would boost readership and coverage in other medias like telling people that they are overweight BECAUSE of exercise- that thing they hate but feel obligated to do, or at least say they do?

Cloud's casual dismissal of the complicated physiological processes involved in weight loss is unfortunate. On one hand, there is an excellent message buried in the refuse of this article. It is absolutely true that diet (as in what you ingest, not how a starlet starves herself) is an essential building for healthy living and weight loss. Imagine the possibilities for the health of America if everyone took an extra half hour a week to really plan their nutrition! But it is NOT the ONLY component of weight loss or healthy living.

I thought about posting links to a couple articles written about the benefits of strength training, fitness in general and other healthy living components. But there were so many valid, peer-reviewed, relevant studies and articles that I was really struggling with choosing which to link to! Instead, I'll offer this- if you are inclined to believe Cloud's take that exercise hinders weight loss, I challenge you to an experiment. For a month, give up exercise and focus only on your diet. Then, for a month, take a broader approach. A balanced diet, appropriate exercise, enough sleep, hydration. Just see what happens, how you feel.

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