Book Review: Mitchell, Ted, Tim Church

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[. . .] While this claim is supported by scientific evidence on one hand, on the other hand, few people will adhere to a rigorous diet and exercise program simply on the promise that it will make them healthy, without enjoying some 'results.' Also, there is no denying that regardless of the level of activity, once the BMI of the individual surpasses a certain point, exercise and mobility can become hard on the joints, lead to injury, and make it difficult to fully enjoy the benefits of exercise. "I don't think most people would appreciate that, wow, you only burned 200 or 300 calories, which you're going to neutralize with just half that muffin" eaten after a run (Cloud 2009:3). For many patients, it is virtually impossible to separate the need to lose weight from exercise, and finding an exercise program and eating program that is calorically 'balanced' is essential.

The value of exercise and its relationship to health should not be discounted, of course, but the claims of the book, particularly its Plan A moderate walking campaign, must be viewed with caution in terms of really offering enough physical activity to ensure good health when weight loss is required. At best, it should be viewed as a transitional step to more intensive exercise. Of course, if Plan A is intense for a previously sedentary person, they may see substantial health benefits that are worth noting and praising. But unless a person continually increased the intensity his or her health regime, he or she will not see continued weight loss. The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine's joint guidelines for physical activity and health stated that "30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week is necessary to promote and maintain health...It is reasonable to assume that persons with relatively high daily energy expenditures would be less likely to gain weight over time, compared with those who have low energy expenditures. So far, data to support this hypothesis are not particularly compelling" (Taubes 2007:1). Ensuring that energy expenditure was in balance with caloric intake was essential, not simply adding exercise minutes to the day.

Once again, this does not discount the role exercise can play in improving a patient's state of health. But a patient must truly understand that exercise alone, particularly the extremely moderate exercise prescribed by the Cooper Institute, is not enough to sustain major weight loss. Even if thinness and fitness is not the same thing, many patients who try to exercise are, at some level, hoping for weight loss, and they must have realistic expectations regarding low levels of activity. Almost every healthcare provider has met someone who insists that he or she exercises but cannot lose weight, and usually that person is not exercising at a hard enough level to elevate his or her heart rate. A better way to evaluate exercise intensity would be to consider target heart rates, which measures intensity and caloric expenditure.

References

Cloud, John. (2009). Why exercise won't make you thin. Time Magazine.

Retrieved December 7, 2011 at http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1914974-3,00.html

Mitchell, Ted, Tim Church & Martin Zucker. (2008). Move yourself: The Cooper Clinic medical director's guide to all the healing benefits of exercise (Even a little!). New York: Wiley.

Taubes, Gary. (2007). The scientists and the Stairmaster. New York Magazine.

Retrieved December 7, 2011… [END OF PREVIEW]

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