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Does Exercise Really Make You Healthier?

The article Does Exercise Really Make You Healthier? by Coco Ballantyne in Scientific American endorses my response to last week’s New York Times article, Does Exercise Really Make You Healthy? (See my previous blog.)

Although both articles have similar titles, they differ greatly on the benefits of exercise. The Scientific American article highlights the benefits of exercise on the cardiovascular, immune systems and bone health.

The only “disappointing” aspect of the article was what it had to say about weight-loss, “Contrary to popular belief, working out at the gym every day will not necessarily lead to weight loss.” Unfortunately, it is very true that it is difficult to lose weight and there is no quick fix. According to the American Council on Exercise personal training manual, 50% of people fall out of an exercise program within the first six months and only 9% of people engage in exercise at a high enough levels of duration and intensity for enhancing cardiovascular fitness. To burn one pound of fat in a week, you need a calorie deficit of about 500 calories per day. This is not an easy task, since it involves a combination of diet and moderate to vigorous exercise of an hour or more per day. The upside is this, if weight loss is lost using a combination of diet and exercise over a long period of time, the weight is more likely to stay off.

The important thing is not to be discouraged when you do not see results right away. It takes time. It takes time to form the habit of exercising regularly and the cardiovascular endurance necessary for maintaining the exercise and intensities necessary for weight-loss. Most people when starting an exercise program report feeling better generally and having more energy. The bottom line is that exercise is about life-style change and the evidence to support the benefits of exercise is overwhelming.


2 Responses

  1. Greetings – tag surfer connected my blog to yours and I had a chance to read today’s post.

    I couldn’t agree more… it’s all about lifestyle. And although it is a little sobering for some people to realize there is work involved in losing weight, consider the alternative.

    I haven’t read the rest of your blog but you clearly are doing the work. If you don’t mind the input I would highly suggest you be cautious with your knee-to-forefoot alignment. In tai chi we refer to the knee rule… the knee when bent has to stay over the foot and not get to far out in front of the toes – very little at all if possible – and not to the inside of the foot at all lest there be serious strain to the knee joint. And of course in tai chi that’s one of the most common injuries – in people who don’t follow that rule.


  2. Thank you for your feedback. Yes, I always emphasize life-style change and the immediate benefits of exercise with my clients. The biggest challenge is getting people to think differently about exercise and themselves. And no, I don’t mind the input regarding knee-to-forefoot alignment. In a loaded squat and kettlebell workouts, I definitely exercise caution and follow the knees over ankle, knee in alignment with second and third toe and not allowing knees to rotate in or out form. The person in the picture is practicing a different martial art to what she normally practices. Unfortunately, a lot of sports cannot follow the knee-to-forefoot rule. Most sports have a lot of lateral movement, for example soccer, where this is impossible. Hence the injuries…

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