The Myth of Exercise?

Time Cover

(This was sent to Time Magazine regarding the cover article dated August 17th, 2009)

I am writing to address the Time magazine front cover article “The Myth about exercise” by John Cloud.

Many if not most of the people who exercise do so for the purpose weight loss or weight maintenance.  Therefore, my first issue is that the title of the article makes the suggestion that exercising is not well worth the effort. Since your article implies that exercise will not assist in the weight loss process it may preclude some people to participate in this healthy practice despite your caveat on the cover stating: “of course it’s good for you.”

My next discrepancy comes early in the article on page 45 when Mr. Cloud writes, “after all doesn’t exercise turn fat into muscle.” This statement clearly comes from someone who has obtained his fitness education from anecdotal sound bites. The mention of exercise turning fat into muscle is a total inaccuracy. This would be the equivalent of turning water into wine or the proverbial turning of apples into oranges. In actuality, the result of exercise is the utilization of stored fat for energy and the development of muscle tissue. They are two different processes.

The article also does not take into account two very important concepts regarding the topic of exercise and weight loss. First, of all it does not mention anything of the body’s hormonal response to exercise or how it helps with the control of insulin. This insulin control is directly related to assisting the process of fat loss. Neither does it acknowledge the existence of EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption).  EPOC supports the fact that vigorous exercise creates an increase in metabolic rate even after the exercise has been completed. This once again assists the process of fat loss.

After fourteen years of helping people through positive physical change, in my opinion it would be irresponsible to suggest that someone looking to lose or manage their body weight to disregard exercise as an integral part of the process. To say that exercise is a myth regarding weight loss is like saying your engine is a myth in making your car move. The engine is a vital part of the entire system that puts the car in motion. Will an engine in and of itself put your vehicle in motion? Absolutely not. However, in conjunction with tires, axles, a transmission, a steering wheel and other essential parts the automobile can move effectively. In similar fashion, exercise, nutrition, mind set, water consumption, and rest are some of the components that make the health and weight loss process function efficiently.

The superficial comparison of calories consumed to calories burned may make exercise seem as if it is not requirement for weight loss. However, exercise is a necessary component of weight loss as well as weight management.  Page 47 of the article states, “What we found was that the treatment of obesity was very frustrating. Only about 5% of participants could keep the weight off, and although those 5% were more likely to exercise than those who got fat again…” This statement supports the strong probability that that there is a direct correlation with long term weight loss/management and exercise. Maybe the myth about exercise is itself a myth.

Let me know your thoughts.

To read the Time Magazine article click here

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