Exercise: A New Perspective
I am almost as tired of this topic as you likely are, but this article by Jane Brody in the New York Times gives the whole subject a new twist. We read frequently -- and I hammer on you -- about the value of exercise in possibly reducing recurrence risk, maintaining body weight (or even losing a few pounds), and general health. Although these facts may have motivated many of us to get moving, two-thirds of Amercians are sedentary and obese, so the public health message has not been so effective. This essay makes perfect sense to me as it changes the reward from possible future health benefits to immediate improvement in well being and mood. Most of us are not so good at delayed gratification, and if we believe that a daily walk or trip to the gym will help RIGHT NOW, we are more likely to do it.
My gym closes each year for this last week before Labor Day. I suppose that they do need the time to do a thorough cleaning and buffing up of the equipment, but it is very frustrating as I do not do well with changes to my obsessive routine. This morning, I went for a brisk 45 minute walk, taking the rather surprised dog with me. I guess it counted as exercise, and it was pleasant to be outside (in spite of the very light rain and the glum recognition that the season is changing, as it is still rather dark at 5:30). Since I had my annual mammogram this morning (all is well, thanks, and whew), I knew that I needed to do something to maintain some level of lowered stress. That was the immediate pay off.
Here is the beginning of the article and a link to read more:
Changing Our Tune on Exercise
By JANE E. BRODY
What would it take to persuade you to exercise?
A desire to lose weight or improve your figure? To keep heart disease, cancer or diabetes at bay? To lower your blood pressure or cholesterol? To protect your bones? To live to a healthy old age?
You'd think any of those reasons would be sufficient to get Americans exercising, but scores of studies have shown otherwise. It seems that public health experts, doctors and exercise devotees in the media -- like me -- have been using ineffective tactics to entice sedentary people to become, and remain, physically active.
For decades, people have been bombarded with messages that regular exercise is necessary to lose weight, prevent serious disease and foster healthy aging. And yes, most people say they value these goals. Yet a vast majority of Americans -- two-thirds of whom are overweight or obese -- have thus far failed to swallow the "exercise pill."
Now research by psychologists strongly suggests it's time to stop thinking of future health, weight loss and body image as motivators for exercise.
Instead, these experts recommend a strategy marketers use to sell products: portray physical activity as a way to enhance current well-being and happiness.
Read more »