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Is a Half Hour Enough?

March 14, 2009

The government recommended in the past three days of vigorous exercise for thirty minutes. Now it’s an hour I think five days a week or something. Either way, whatever their recommendation is, it’s probably not enough for most americans to either loose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

If you’re like the multitude of employed people, you probably have a desk job or a job that doesn’t require you to really do much of anything except sit or stand in one spot. Some sales people sit on a stool all day in their booth. Others only have to stand when a customer actually comes to the counter. There are some people who do stay active on the job, people who stock shelves and such. They are at least a little luckier than the rest of the desk job population. But still, level of physical difficulty of a job is still probably pretty low. The metabolic equivalents probably still don’t hit the 7 METS of walking up the stairs.

Even me, as a physical therapist assistant, have little activity in my day. I sit on a stool and direct exercise on a patient to patient basis. At times I have to actually get up and my job does involve some bursts of high physical activity. My job is not all that tough.

Then, if you’re like most americans, you probably go home and sit on the couch and watch 2-4 hours of TV per night or you’re on your computer 2-4 hours per night (or in some cases even longer than that). Or maybe you do both, TV and computer in a single night. If you do exercise, it might be only a half hour. Some of the population does get in the full hour though, but I think we’re a minority. A very very small portion of the population actually does workout daily. Most people think we’re nuts.

With all this sitting, is it any suprise that no one is getting thinner or healtheir? Well, to me, yes it is a suprise. Weight loss is really not about exercise, it’s about what you eat. Most people sitting on a couch or in front of their computer are NOT eating healthy foods. They’ve got the two for one deal. No exercise AND bad foods. How is anyone supposed to get healthy that way?

Some of the population does the exercise becuase they feel it’s enough. It’s not. You can’t get in the minimum government recommendation of exercise and support the diet that the government recommends. You need to do more exercise than the government recommends and eat healthier than they recommend. Our government really is not the best source of nutritional advice. They often listen to which group can yell the loudest rather than the one with the best studies and research to back up their claims. 2000 cals a day is crap if you’re 2000 calories are crap food. Eat good food, you’ll lose weight. I suggest clean eating yet again ;).

A person however CAN lose weight while only changing their diet. You can be on bed rest and lose weight. I see many people do this in the nursing facilities. Because they’re doing nothing their appetitie is less. They also do become weaker so it’s not the way I’d recommend, but hey, it can work.

A healthy diet is so much more beneficial then just weight loss alone. The health benefits are numerous. The risks of diseases are less. Your children will live longer healthier lives and so will you.

A half hour alone is not enough to mitigate the damage of poor diet and lack of movement for the other 23.5 hours a day.

6 Comments leave one →
  1. jleeger permalink
    March 14, 2009 11:25 AM

    Again, you’ve summed it up well, Michelle! People need good diet and movement. We’re animals, after all. Take the average indoor-only housecat. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen these poor animals look like little sausages. It’s really sad.

    The government recommendations are a little silly. They’re based around “averages” that are based on half-informed scientific studies. Focus only on the metabolic requirements of an “average” person of x-weight and you’ll get 2000 calories, and 30 minutes per day three times a week.

    But what is this “average” based on? Is it a truly functional, healthy, “average” person, who is eating only natural foods and getting plenty of vigorous exercise – or, more likely, is it based on a “model” “average” person that scientists have constructed from mathematical forumlae?

    These guidelines are helpful, but they aren’t enough, because they ignore one crucial fact, that the government doesn’t want to deal with – the environment.

    Through farm/crop subsidies, the government has made it cheaper for food manufacturers to buy a highly processed substance like corn syrup (or high fructose corn syrup) than to buy something that requires no processing at all, like broccoli.

    You can see how easy it would be for the government to have a real impact on health in this country – by ceasing subsidy of farming practices and crops that lead to processed foods. If the government stopped subsidizing corn crops, and started subsidizing organic farms, what might happen?

    But because of the financial model of our nation, natural living is a hard-sell. It doesn’t cost enough. You can’t charge enough. It isn’t ubiquitous enough.

    Until this is addressed, they can come out with and revise health recommendations as many times as they want. It won’t matter. People are animals, and, as part of nature, they do what nature does – seek the path of least resistance. As long as it’s easier to sit on your butt, and to eat processed foods (and it is “easier” for most people), that’s what will happen.

    • March 16, 2009 9:31 AM

      I’m not a big fan of subsidies of any type so I’m with anyone who wants to eliminate them. I agree that people see it’s easier to go to the drive thru window rather than to prepare anything as well. It’s easier to toss a box of stuff into a pot than to think about what to put in the pot…

      Most people will take the easy way but I think if people really knew what this was doing to them (and their kids) they might not be so tempted to take the easy way. I hate thinking I’m putting my daughter at risk by what I’ve fed her in the past and I’m sure there are others who with proper info would act (maybe not the majority, but I can’t be the only crazy person in the world).

      Then of course there are those who don’t care if it’s good or bad and figure they’re going to die anyway so why not live a crappy life…

  2. Riayn permalink
    March 14, 2009 4:10 PM

    I think it really depends on the 30 mins of exercise people are doing. If you are just going for a walk, then no 30 mins is not going to cut it. But if you are doing 30 mins of a high intensity exercise then yes it will.

    However, the average person isn’t going to go do a 30 mins HI exercise. They are going to dawdle on the treadmill whilst watching TV and call that exercise and whilst it is better than nothing, it really isn’t going to do much in terms of weight loss and raising their fitness level.

    • March 16, 2009 9:35 AM

      Our average person probably isn’t going to even do a few step up’s between commercials! That is why I’m really leaning toward nutrition as more major than activity. People can eat healthy even if they don’t do anything, it’s just that most people tend to like french fries and deep fried breaded mozzarella sticks… yum ;). But crazy people like me choose not to eat them even if I want them. For weight loss I really think more people need to alter nutrition rather than activity. Activity and nutrition is the best way, but if it’s only going to be one or the other, it should be nutrition first. I think our government also propagates the idea that if we exercise we can eat what we want and that just isn’t accurate. Government isn’t always right.

  3. March 16, 2009 4:17 AM

    You know when I heard that the recommended amount had been increased, my first thoughts were that they were increased to try to compensate for Americans’ bad diet. I also agree that it depends on what people consider exercise. If you aren’t getting your heart rate up, then it’s not helping as much.

    • March 16, 2009 9:38 AM

      I think that was the intention of the government, and like I said above to R, I think our government lets us believe we can eat what we want if we exercise more. It really frustrates me that our government recommendations are outdated and that they are so unwilling to change them. Why does our own goverment feel the need to push processed foods at us? I hate that my taxpayer dollars go to fund the processed food industry by their blatant push of processed foods (particularly breads and cereals). I’m getting my heart rate up just thinking about our goverment! I don’t suppose I could call that exercise 😉 hehe 🙂

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