Don't Buy Into the Headlines, Exercise IS Healthy

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Thank you TIME, for making one of the latest headlines on your site "Exercise Won't Make You Thin".  Traditionally, provocative headlines sell papers (or in this digital age get clicked on, tweeted and dugg), but unfortunately that also means a reduction of thorough research to mere words.  Just Sunday this headline broke, and while the accompanying four page article was a good read, I saw this headline on both TIME and CNN's websites as a main feature.  


Photo courtesy of the Spondylitis Association

More often than not people read just the headlines (or maybe a few paragraphs... congrats on making it this far in the blog) and if that were so in this case you would leave your computer unimpressed with the prospect of exercising.  The article doesn't ignore the health benefits of exercising, but it certainly doesn't get to them until page three.

I encourage you to challenge your sources of information.  Check out the peer-reviewed literature (those super scientific journals that the newspapers get their health information from) from time to time, or reflect on the perspective of the author/journalist.  Becoming hyper-aware of the information you're getting will help you weed out those "Coffee Twice Daily Will Add 15 Years of Life" headlines from the true gems in health information.  

Should Weight Management be on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs?

Now about the article itself.  TIME truly pulled at the heartstrings of Americans - through weight loss.  Notice that the headline uses the word "thin", a reference so often used to indicate total health today.  While maintaining a healthy weight is very important to overall health, it's not the be-all end-all of the nutrition game.  Next time you're thinking about your own health, don't reduce it to the number on the scale, instead think about the big picture and whether that is in balance.  Balancing family, friends, work, sleep, schoolwork, food, creativity, exercise, and your mental alertness are all integral to your health.  Having even one category out of balance can begin to affect other areas of your life.  

As for exercise... The article discussed the "Compensation Effect".  That is, when after exercising the individual working out has a very large meal, or treats themselves to something calorically dense for working out.  Well this phenomena is tied into the sense of accomplishment exercising brings to the table, but unfortunately yields little or no results in the weight loss department.  The article then goes on to discuss self-control, and the fact that regular, smaller bursts of energy can be just as effective as one workout session daily in weight management.  The bottom line is that any form of exercise is extremely important to your overall health and benefits the body in such tremendous ways, ways that go beyond the "thinness" of your body.