For the thousands hundreds one or two of you who read this blog regularly, you know I am a big believer in the benefits of exercise. And it has been tough going for me since early spring when I first hurt my foot and later my leg — injuries basically bad and lingering enough to take me off the daily running schedule for the first time in 30 years.
So I was interested in a story by John Cloud in Time, “Why Exercise Won’t Make You Thin.” I first saw references to this article yesterday on Twitter. And some of the tweets were predictable: Glad I never considered exercising and so on. (Gross generalization there on my part.)
Actually, the article makes some valid points and packs a considerable amount of information into an important discussion overall about exercise, weight, obesity and health.
If interested, take a few minutes to read the article. Saying that, here’s the quick take: Cloud makes the case, backed by considerable research and peer-reviewed studies, that exercise may actually cause you to eat more and therefore not be of much (any?) value in losing weight. But generally speaking, exercise makes you healthier.
I’ll admit that when I first saw the tweets, I was ready to dismiss the article — particularly given the growing national epidemic relating to obesity among adults and children in this country. But Cloud makes a strong case — and I agree with him based on my own experience over the last three decades of exercising regularly. Here’s why.
When I first started running 30 some years ago, I lost 25 pounds or so in the first few months. Then my body adapted to the exercise and it has been a constant battle of the waistline ever since. Now, I can exercise all I want (and at this moment that isn’t all that much) and still gain weight — unless I am absolutely ruthless in watching what I eat and eliminating virtually all sugar. That’s more difficult than hitting the concrete almost every day at 5 a.m. Trust me. (And I’m still convinced that my ill-treated low thyroid disease contributes to this problem with weight gain. But I am through mentioning that to my doctor for fear that she will send me to explain myself before one of the death panels apparently now being organized. I digress.)
Still, exercise has its benefits. I’m convinced it makes you healthier over the long run. (Sorry about that. Had to say it.) And for me, the daily run has provided as much mental relaxation and stress relief as anything. I miss that now. The chatter at the health club and the ability of the TV talking heads to prattle on and on and so on presents the polar opposite experience of being out on the road or trail by yourself or with a friend or two.
So the secret of exercise and weight loss comes down to this. As Cloud writes, exercise might not make you thin. But you’ll still be a lot better off by adding some form of exercise to your daily life than not.
And talking about exercise — as a follow-up to yesterday’s post, the U.S. soccer team manged to lose again to Mexico in the World Cup qualifier, 2-1. Tough for players not used to the altitude to compete in a venue with an elevation of more than 7,000 feet.