Friday, December 7, 2012

Interesting Article

I read an interesting article in the NY Times which you can find here. The article is titled "Updating the Message to Get Americans Moving." The basic idea behind the story is that people know that they need to exercise to be healthy, the message is getting out there, they just are not doing it. It talks a bit about people doing the least they think they need to do such as a walking class for college students. It also references some studies that used accelerometers rather than self reporting to measure peoples activity and states the results indicate things are way worse than was thought. People don't exercise nearly as much as they like to tell people. This should not be a surprise to anyone. The conclusion the author comes to is that the message needs to change.
Simply giving people an exercise prescription, like walking for 20 minutes a day, five days a week, is clearly not working. Nor are programs that claim very intense, very short bouts of exercise are all that is needed.
To encourage exercise, perhaps people should be told to find an exercise, and an intensity level, that makes them feel good, Dr. Ekkekakis said.
This is a great idea. I have said this many times on this blog if you go have a look. I say you need to do whatever works for you and keeps you interested because an exercise program you hate will never work. I also agree with the idea that exercise needs to be scaled for the individual and their is no shame in not being able to do everything the person next to you in the gym can. This is one of the basic premises of crossfit and one of the reasons I like it. Another basic premise of crossfit, however, is high intensity and most people in this country are unwilling to do that. Most people claim fatigue long before their body has come anywhere near reaching its limits. They feel a bit of discomfort and they quit. I learned a long time ago that the human body is capable of way more than people believe it is. In most cases the mind is the limiting factor not the body. The only way you will get the results from the exercise is to push your body beyond its current limits. You do this and it adapts over time to be able to handle the increased load or activity. If you don't push it to that point the adaptations just don't take place and the benefit is not what it could or should be. Maybe everyone should have to go through Marine Corps boot camp because that will absolutely teach the lessons needed to recognize that there is a difference between discomfort/pain and you limit.

The bottom line is that although I agree with much in the article it is unlikely that changing the message will change most peoples behavior simply because it is easier to park your fat ass on the sofa and eat Doritos than it is to go to the gym. even if you think you want to improve it is easier to take a bit of a walk than to run even though you will absolutely induce more positive change in your body from the running. I could go in but you get the point. The thing you need to do with your exercise is to be constantly increasing load and intensity to make sure your body is adapting, it is an amazing machine. It is fine if you can only walk today but your effort should be focused on walking faster and working to more intensity. Once you can walk faster try working toward jogging. It does not need to be walking and running do anything you enjoy but always work to increase the intensity your body needs it. You should be uncomfortable when working out or you are doing it wrong and most people are unwilling to do that because it is hard.

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