April 26, 2013

more exercise is NOT necessarily better

It's okay to just have fun.
I am surrounded by folks who think that exercise is not only good but that more is always better and there is no such animal as moderation when it comes to activity. I hate this. Around food and exercise we have boxed ourselves into a corner of never good enough. It just isn't true. More exercise is not necessarily better and it is actually quite do-able for most people to do the OPTIMAL amount of activity for our health. The sad reality is that people fail to start doing so because they believe it "isn't enough."

We just love to hate ourselves, it seems. We don't want to have fun, or feel good -- we prefer to set expectations that are not enjoyable, not sustainable, and not even healthy. When I see runners out in all weather, people bragging on their miles, running through injury I don't see healthy athletes I see compulsivity and "using" exercise as an emotional regulator despite costs to joints and overall health. I don't envy it, and I don't feel "bad" that I do less activity. We probably need as a society to stop being so supportive of extremes in exercise.

Don't believe me? Double the Workout, Double the Benefits?

8 comments:

  1. Also, it seems to me that there's very seldom recognition of the fact that there is no one optimal amount of exercise that works for everyone. If pressed, most people would probably agree that people's nutritional needs vary, for example, but common attitudes toward exercise would seem to imply that a person who exercises more is necessarily healthier and fitter than a person who exercises less, when in reality the two people may just have different exercise needs. For me, just walking around and carrying stuff as I go about my day is enough activity. I would see immediate, obvious health consequences if I started a running program or started working out at the gym three times a week.

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  2. Exactly!

    This idea that we should measure ourselves against one another, or the needs of others, is as ridiculous and unhealthy as the idea that MORE is always better of exercise and LESS is always better for food. Absurd!!

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  3. There is now quite a lot of evidence to suggest that our capacity to tolerate exercise and to adapt favourably is genetically determined. The important point about exercise is that it stresses the body and actually damages tissues. It is this damage that promotes the body to re-build itself - and to re-build itself to a 'higher level' than previously. This is how training works. Of course, adequate rest, good nutrition and adequate fluid are all required to permit a favourable adaptation to training. And what is 'adequate' for one person may not be 'adequate' for another, for many, many reasons.

    Some people's bodies can adapt much more favourably to exercise than others. Two people can train really hard in the same way and do all the right things in terms of ensuring good nutrition and hydration after exercise, but one person may adapt much more favourably and so become much 'fitter' (and a better performer). Elite athletes are genetically endowed to adapt favourably to training. But many health and lifestyle factors influence the capacity to respond favourably to exercise training.

    The idea that everyone would excel in sports if they trained hard enough and ate the right diet is nonsense. Moreover, unfavourable cardiac muscle remodelling can take place in some individuals who subject themselves to prolonged, vigorous exercise.

    Excuse the 'essay'... This is a big research interest of mine and formed the majority of my PhD research!

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  4. I an new here but just wanted to say I do not go to the gym, I do not jog or run,I am a stay at home mom to a 9 year old daughter,2 cats,a hamster and a husband.My exercise is cleaning,cooking,,playing,shopping,taking care of the lawn(actually I don't consider this a job,I love to mow the lawn and plant),but to society I am considered strange or lazy for not having a gym memebership.I find myself making up excuses for not going to the gym or "doing real exercises" when asked.My daughter does not exercise,she plays,thats what kids do to get their exercise even though the media tells kids to get 1 hour of exercise everyday.Why do we teach our children to exercise and choose "healthy"?I'm surprised the ice cream truck still comes around in the summer,apparently it is not good food.My daughter and I take a walk most evenings and we talk,look at things,find treasure and have fun.Then we come home and have a snack,no not carrots or fruit,but ice cream,brownies ect.And sometimes that is our exercise and it's ok with us!Buy the way my daughter does not play sports and she is just fine.People need to butt out and do their own thing and stop worrying about everyone else.

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  5. I agree. I believe there is an optimal amount of exercise, and many people over do it. I have a friend that says he exercises more so that he can eat more. He really just needs to do a healthy amount of each.

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  6. To your point: http://dropitandeat.blogspot.com/2010/07/daily-exercise-is-must-or-so-you-think.html

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  7. Thank you all - its nice to decrease the hype and the hating and the morality-laden extremes!

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  8. I see this so often with children too. I feel we are the anomoly that says one sport at a time, one coach, one team to my tween children. It would boggle your mind how many sports activities some do. Let me list an example. On one daughter's soccer team (which is a high level team) there is a girl who also this spring is doing track ( 4 events no less. The mile, the 400 relay, the long jump, and the shot put) Additionally she does dance ( 3 styles, ballet barre, jazz, and pointe). All this on top of a soccer schedule. How she breathes I have no idea.

    I just shake my head in bewilderment and watch her run out of gas on the soccer field.

    No wonder.

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