You are here

It's Not About the Exercise!

Exercise while eatingNews story in the headlines this week: concurrent with our ever increasing national waistline, we are indeed following the conventional medical advice. We are exercising more at the same time that we are weighing more! Not to mention that we have also followed the advice to eat more whole grains, count our calories and less fat. We have accomplished all that, and what do we have to show for it? Evidently not what was intended.

The exercise statistics are reassuring, however. The percentage of adults who include "sufficient" exercise on a weekly basis is 51.3% of women, and 57.8% of men. Exercise confers a definite benefit: better balance and strength as we age, improvement in morbidity and mortality statistics, all of these even if weight is not reduced.

Not reassuring is a louder repetition of the conventional wisdom, which states that if we are indeed exercising more, we are evidently eating too much, indulging in "Gluttony and sloth", in the words of Gary Taubes in Why We Get Fat one of the most readable indictments of persistent conventional thinking about weight loss. His book includes references to many earlier studies which point in the direction of the current news: exercising more may make you stronger but won't necessarily make you thinner.