Archive for December 17th, 2008

This article in The New York Times does an injustice to all practical thinkers when it comes to exercise and living  a healthy lifestyle.

Since forever we’ve known regular exercise, even a little, will deliver a multitude of benefits. So today, in the midst of the obesity epidemic – when the average Cinnabon is roughly the circumference of a toddler’s head – do we need scientific studies and exercise experts to further convince the bulk of people in the world (and believe me, “bulk” is the key word in this sentence) who are living a sedentary lifestyle that exercise is pointless?

Here’s a short excerpt from the article…

Exercise alone, in the absence of weight loss, has not been shown to reduce blood pressure. Nor does it make much difference in cholesterol levels. Weight loss can lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, but if you want to lose weight, you have to diet as well as exercise. Exercise alone has not been shown to bring sustained weight loss. Just ask Steven Blair, an exercise researcher at the University of South Carolina. He runs every day and even runs marathons. But, he adds, “I was short, fat and bald when I started running, and I’m still short, fat and bald. Weight control is difficult for me. I fight the losing battle.”

The difficulty, Dr. Blair says, is that it’s much easier to eat 1,000 calories than to burn off 1,000 calories with exercise. As he relates, “An old football coach used to say, ‘I have all my assistants running five miles a day, but they eat 10 miles a day.’”

exerciseMany of us fight the battle of the bulge during our lifetimes. I’ve never delivered on my promise to develop rock hard abs. Even in my best shape, God didn’t grant me Dennis Quaid-like genetics. I know, damn. But this shortcoming doesn’t mean I won’t do crunches four days a week, run or ride three days a week and lift weights twice a week. I fully believe that without exercise I would quickly balloon to 250, have high blood pressure, high cholesterol (mine is 162) and suffer from sleep apnea. So I exercise, eat a balanced diet and strive to keep my metabolism high. Yeah, I’m still soft in spots but imagine what I might look like if I did nothing?

Science that suggests people leave exercise out of the mix of options is not helpful science. The obesity epidemic is contributing to a diabetes crisis, which will in turn contribute to more people with heart disease and a handful of other chronic conditions – which will result in health care costs continuing to sky rocket.  We each must fight our bulge battles no matter what science tells us about the advantages (or disadvantages) of exercise. We each must model good health behaviors for our children if we wish for them to live long and active lives. We each must get out of the recliner and into our tennis shoes for a walk, a ride, a pilates regime, a run – even if only around the block.

What we DO know about exercise, that fewer children are actually doing it and more and more kids are obese in our world, seems to deliver the loudest message of all. A message we need to reshape. Literally.

I’ll meet you at 5.  Bring your workout gear.



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