I rarely have time to write more than one post a week, but (ironically) Time is what has fueled the fire for another rant.
The title alone is enough to be questionable, setting the stage for thousands of folks to start wondering why the heck they even bother adding intense movement to their day:
The rest of the article skews the information in a similarly slanted fashion. For every good point it raises – eat better, move more throughout the day, you don’t NEED to go to a gym to get a workout – it ruins them by promoting lower intensity workouts as the better alternative.
“Actually, it’s not clear that vigorous exercise like running carries more benefits than a moderately strenuous activity like walking while carrying your groceries.” Now he almost makes a good point, if he worded it better, that modern research focuses too much on studies done with folks fresh off the couch to try to garner data on exercise guidelines. This fails in the grand scheme of things, since the studies are never long enough, and rarely with any true intensity, since the best guinea pigs they can find are too unfit to complete tougher tasks. A great deal of our current ‘understanding’ of exercise has been derived from these vague studies, and that is a good point to bring up.
BUT that is not his point. Instead he actually uses the vagueness to slant his article towards a science that shows vigorous exercise as not being any more effective than lower intensity workouts. In other words, lets all walk rather than run, walk rather than test ourselves and push physical boundaries, walk instead of train for any type of sporting event or fitness goal, walk instead of actually being able to DO ANYTHING. Just eat better and walk!
Apparently we’ve been doing this fitness thing all wrong.
John Cloud, the author, spends about 80% of his ink preaching how exercise is basically useless since it doesn’t actually help us burn fat. On one hand, there is some truth to the fat burning part, but on the other hand, if the emphasis was on all the BENEFITS of exercise, then the fact that it isn’t the all-potent fat burner WOULDN’T MATTER!! Yes, eat better, but for Pete’s sake, don’t reduce your movement just because it might not burn fat as well as all the infomercials preach!
He even spends an unfortunate amount of time giving evidence to how adding intensity to a workout will make you gain weight, and then justifies it by stating how weak willed we are as a species. Seriously.
“Some of us can will ourselves to overcome our basic psychology, but most of us won’t be very successful.” The ‘basic psychology’ he’s talking about is the our ‘proportionally enfeebled self-regulatory capacity’ that falls apart if we ‘force’ ourselves to jog for an hour. “Rather than lunching on a salad, you’ll be more likely to opt for a pizza.”
Um… what about the folks who opt for a pizza WITHOUT working out before hand. Perhaps I’m blind, but I see a lot more NON-exercising folks making poor eating decisions than folks who move hard regularly.
The last paragraph is particularly sad, but sums up the whole article. Again, it starts with a statement that is absolutely worth considering, but then ruins the moment by slanting the words to make exercise seem like a waste of time.
“In short, it’s what you eat, not how hard you try to work it off, that matters most in losing weight. You should exercise to improve your health, but be warned: fiery spurts of vigorous exercise could lead to weight gain. I love how exercise makes me feel, but tomorrow skip the versaclimber – and skip the blueberry bar that is my usual post workout reward.”
BE WARNED, he says! Avoid real exercise folks! Despite it leading to improved overall fitness, greater self confidence, increased speed, workload, sporting prowess…. basically an increased ability to do ANYTHING and making you feel better, a couple people might have gained a few pounds from it somewhere because they also ate like shit. So DON’T DO IT. Walk a little and eat more salads.
Too many folks, including the author himself, will read this as “I only work out to burn fat, and since that’s useless, I’ll stop, despite all the other benefits.” WTF!!??
Can you make up for bad eating with fitness? Not really, and that’s a point we try to push hard around here. But that’s not the point of the article, which seems to be pushing LESS exercising as much, if not more, than better eating.
(sorry Alyson, you should probably just walk and eat better)