I need to clarify that, overall, exercise is beneficial for one’s body and health. The human body is designed to work better with regular exercise in terms of managing cardiovascular health and well being. This fact is undeniable and important.
However, the other messages about exercise that have become pervasive and, for many, apparent facts that are more problematic and untrue.
The association of exercise and weight loss, equating exercise as a form of burning calories to be matched by food intake and the need for increased fitness and exercise as a sign of improvement of health all are either falsehoods or exaggerations not based on fact.
The food, diet and exercise industries benefit from making these statements appear true.
If exercise is associated with weight loss, the imperative and pressure to exercise falls on the individual. The pervasive guilt when people don’t exercise pushes them to sign up for classes, join gyms and participate in a part of life they may or may not want to but feel compelled to. But the purpose of this collective obsession is to maintain or lose weight when the overwhelming data proves otherwise.
If eating food can only be justified by exercise, people will need to rack up a certain amount of calories burned in order to feel able to eat their meals, even though the calories burned statistics on machines and various devices is not based on any biological science. Instead, people feel tethered to inaccuracies as the reason they can or cannot eat.
And with the constant personal urgency to be “healthy,” exercise is often the foundation of that philosophy. Yes moderate exercise is connected with improvement on health, but excessive exercise has no bearing on health. The connection between health and exercise is such a strong reality that people are shocked to know that only moderate exercise shows true health improvement.
These pressures around exercise, based on a series of inaccurate statements, drive a significant amount of behaviors and thought processes for many who don’t have eating disorders. The growing exercise industry benefits from an urgency people feel to exercise, and the diet and food industries also benefit from the growing obsession to seek improved health by focusing on these falsehoods.
Without sufficient public health and medical establishment response, these falsehoods remain the only “truths” people know. Too many doctors have been brainwashed into believing the propaganda and public health campaigns are more focused on increased weight to realize the larger picture.
As long as our society is so obsessed with thinness, people are trapped in this conundrum. The real freedom is to see exercise as a part of life and to see food more clearly as a necessity to sustain life.