Thursday, March 22, 2007

exercise - what is too much?

A blog recently stated:

>>What is MIA in health recommendations, intent on getting everyone exercising 60-90 minutes a day, is balance and the other side of the story.<<

Apparently the writer of this blog, a RN, BSN, feels that the recommendation of the committee which wrote the 1996 Surgeon General paper on exercise was excessive (the recommendation in the paper was 30-40 minutes moderate intensity cardio, most days but the committee all agreed that 60 minutes was ideal, stating that they had reduced the 60 minutes most days to 40 minutes most days because it was thought the public would totally reject the idea otherwise).

The blog author went on to quote Dr Edell's opinion (popular in a society which feels that getting up and changing the TV channel without the clicker is excessive exercise):

>>>There is little to support “more is better,” and certainly not for everyone. What may be most surprising is how everyday things we do around the house compare favorably to “real” exercise, he said. Things like gardening, raking leaves, painting the house, washing the car, mobbing the floor, cleaning windows, dancing, playing table tennis, and chopping wood.<<<

To illustrate this point, the blog quoted several newspaper articles accusing aerobic dancing and exercise in general, as being responsible for the increasing number of joint replacement surgeries being done now.

Early as the hour is, I couldn't let this go because I feel that THIS MISINFORMATION could risk the lives of those reading the blog if they followed such BAD ADVICE as to not do regular CARDIO.

First of all, there is a BIG difference between Jane Fonda low impact aerobics (which no, does NOT cause injury!) and the high impact aerobics of the early 1980's. Low impact aerobic dancing is one of the best exercises one can DO (i.e. Richard Simmons, Jane Fonda, Denise Austin, Kathy Smith et al) because not only does a person do cardio vascular exercise but also a lot of range of motion and moving most muscles in the body under slight resistance. If one does NOT move all these muscles REGULARLY, one can get sarcopena or muscle wasting, which has been suggested in SEVERAL studies to be the cause of a large part of the disability associated with aging. The news articles quoted in the blog made NO DIFFERENCE whatsoever in types of aerobic dancing (typical - news media is NOT known for accuracy). I with a BMI of 43 at the age of 62, can easily do a Richard Simmons tape with no injury whatsoever (on the contrary, it feels great!)

Secondly, CARDIO VASCULAR exercise which directly exercises the heart has been overwhelmingly suggested in MANY excellent studies to significantly reduce the risk of ALL illness regardless of what people weigh. In such activities like cleaning the house or gardening, we do NOT directly exercise the heart (which is a muscle and needs exercise). We do not necessarily raise the heartrate to an aerobic level and keep it there for 20 minutes or more. We do not induce a higher body temperature which has been suggested in several studies to beef up our immune system. It is VERY WRONG and VERY MISLEADING to suggest that people do not NEED regular (and daily if possible!) cardio. (and the impact of daily cardio on diabetes type II has been well documented in medical literature!)

The 1996 Surgeon General's paper on exercise stated that NOT DOING 30-40 minutes CARDIO MOST DAYS, was MORE RISKY than smoking a pack of cigarettes a day.

Thirdly, the type of exercise which MAY raise the risk for hip and knee replacements is RUNNING. Excessive running such as is done, in marathons has been suggested to RAISE rather than lower the risk of heart attack, cancer etc. But doing 40 minutes daily of low impact cardio like the health rider or the Gazelle Freestyle or even the trikke scooter is a whole different beastie than running a 26 mile marathon. Elite athletics has NEVER been about health.

Although I am not much of a fan of running marathons and calling it "healthy", to say that marathons or even high impact aerobics are the cause of increasing joint replacement surgery seems very incorrect when only 5 percent of the population actually follows the recommendation of the 1996 Surgeon General's paper on exercise and 25 percent of the population exercises (cardio!) as much as three times a week! Likely a STRONG factor in the increasing amount of degenerative joint disorder (and hip and knee replacements) is a lack of regular cardio especially if combined with the CHRONIC DIETING which is so popular in our society.

In the 30 year Cooper Institute studies of 29,000 people, it was found that doing cardio exercise as little as 3 times a week, lowered the risk of heart attack and/or dying early, by 40 percent. It also lowered the risk of cancer by 40 percent, and this was REGARDLESS of what the individuals weighed!

But this benefit is ONLY obtained from CARDIO or aerobic exercise and NOT just "cleaning the house" or "gardening" or taking the stairs or parking further away from the store (much as people would like it to be so!).

It is sad that we often, do NOT hear from our medical providers just HOW important CARDIO exercise IS, on a regular basis! And yet Lawrence Maharam in THE EXERCISE HIGH stated that he did not know ONE cardiologist who did NOT do cardio. Interesting, isn't it?

Source material:
Maharam, Lawrence: THE EXERCISE HIGH
Gaesser, Glenn, PhD: THE SPARK

Friday, March 09, 2007

The Atkins Diet works the best!

So our newest article on dieting from the prestigious medical journal, the JAMA, tells us that in a study lasting one year, people lost the most weight on the Atkins diet. The study with an over 300 individual cohort, compared the Atkins low carb diet to other diets like the Zone (which is also low carb but does not encourage ketosis) and the Ornish program which albeit heart healthy, is very low fat and very difficult to totally comply to.

At the end of a year, the 77 women assigned to the Atkins group had lost an average of 10.4 pounds. Those assigned to LEARN lost 5.7 pounds, the Ornish followers lost 4.8 pounds and women on the Zone lost 3.5 pounds, on average.

Did anyone notice that the year end results on a non diet like that of Dr Oz in which you cut 100 calories a day, promises a similar result to the "best diet", the Atkins diet?

We also must look at the funding of these studies - I suspect the Atkins corporation might have funded this one. Because in a study funded by Weight Watchers by Stanley Heshka, researchers found that, people on the Weight Watchers diet had lost an average of 11 lbs in the first year. (same as attributed to the Atkins). However, in the second year, the picture had changed a bit. The average weight Loss on Weight Watchers was down to 7 lbs overall. (The cohort was over 400 on this study)

The Weight Watchers group lost 4,3 to 5 kg (11 lbs) by the end of the first year, and 2,7 to 3 kg overall by the end of the second year (7 lbs).

Did anyone notice that neither of the studies showed a really impressive result from (any kind of) dieting? Perhaps the media hopes we will just read headlines and not the details (which are usually hidden way down in the article) and come away thinking we should buy this or that diet.

None of these studies we've seen lately have lasted 4 or 5 years - funding is always a problem but beyond that, drawing out a study like this for a longer term, might have results which the diet industry does NOT want people to see.

For it seems that the greatest ongoing scam in the American society today is the myth that ANY diet works! One wonders why we continue to buy into this scam when for most of us, diets have failed.

We would consider it a bit ridiculous to blame the driver for a car which stalls on the highway and yet, when diets don't work for us and our automatic system kicks in and forces a regain, we DO blame ourselves.

So the greatest scam in history, diets, upon which people spend some 45 BILLION dollars a year in the USA alone, continues with willing repeat customers!

And that is, I guess because none of us want to realize that our bodies basically control our weight and NOT US. We'd rather berrate ourselves for being "pigs" or having "no character" and then, go and buy the next diet to reinforce our desperate hope that we, too, will somehow be magically able to attain the mythical "perfect body".

But is a perfect body one which WORKS well, or one which looks like a model? Spending time with people who severely restrict calories to stay slim suggests that MOST of these do NOT enjoy very good health. And when we are sick in bed, or chronically fatigued, it really doesn't matter how fat or slim we are. Here in the USA, we have increasing numbers of young people dropping dead from sudden heart attack and are also riddled with autoimmune disease like LUPUS and Fibromyalgia and CFS. Some estimates theorize that 1 in 100 has some kind of chronic pain syndrome. So not only has our affinity to constantly diet NOT rendered many of us "slim", it might also be a factor in the -not so good- general public health observed today in the USA.

In a study at USC which compared living a healthy lifestyle (frequent cardio exercise and healthy food choices) without a focus on weight loss, to dieting,and DID last for 2 years, the researchers found that those who just LIVED healthy and did NOT lose weight, remained healthy at the end of the second year but those who dieted, not only gained back all the weight they'd lost during the first year, they also regained their health issues AND sustained psychological damage (it's extremely disheartening to gain a bunch of weight back). The non dieters had a self image which had IMPROVED in the second year.

Bottom line? Time to realize what a scam dieting is, and simply live healthy because health, it has been found in MANY studies (including the Cooper Institute studies of 30 years duration and 29,000 individuals) that health is mostly dependent on your lifestyle and NOT your weight.

Monday, March 05, 2007

less people dieting

According to a recent news article, even though our society is totally fat phobic and food obsessed, only 16 percent of the population is dieting.

Frankly, I don't believe this statistic for a second.

What is happening is that LESS people are ADMITTING to dieting. Calling restricting calories (to lose or maintain weight) by other names is very much in vogue these days.

For instance if you ask most people, "Are you dieting" they will probably answer "OH no!" (perish the thought). But if you go on to ask them "well, do you 'watch what you eat'?", their answer will be opposite. "Definitely... yes have to do that!" and of course "watching what you eat" is another way of saying dieting.

We haven't stopped dieting - we are dieting more than ever (of course, another no brainer). We have just stopped CALLING it a diet.

Weightwatchers restricts most people to 23-26 points a day even on maintenance but they never call it a diet. It's "staying on program" or "lifestyle change" Jenny Craig and other mainstream programs have pretty much followed Weight Watchers in their terminology so now, the only ones which CALL themselves a diet are the liquid diets etc. And that's probably what explains the 16 percent in the new study.

Sunday, March 04, 2007

Child obesity epidemic? Where IS IT?

A recent blog mentioned a campaign in which "childhood obesity" was targeted on billboards as a "public health issue". As understandable, many objected to this pointing out that it would traumatize fat children even more than they are being traumatized now. But the sponsors of the campaign, The MetroWest Community Health Care Foundation says they are NOT backing down.

Peggy Howell, spokesperson from NAAFA stated that:

“It’s just simply reinforcing the fact that the children who are already bullied and teased mercilessly by their own classmates now are being made the butt of even more (teasing),”
Which of course seems a no brainer.

But I am wondering something. Where IS this great "obesity epidemic" among kids? I teach in an elementary school and I also visit my grandkids' school often and I just haven't seen all these "dangerously fat" kids that the news media seems to want us to believe, exist. Seems the same percentage of genetically fat kids there were when I was in school (in saner times) in the 1950's - about 2-4 per 30 kids.

What I DO see a lot of is painfully slim kids. When I taught 20 years ago, there was maybe one or two very slim kids in the class and those were invariably the ones who were sick a lot and had a poor attention span. In fact, I remember wondering whether things would be better for them if they were more 'robust'.

Now those very slim kids form the majority of kids in elementary schools. And have the same high rate of illness (like vacinated kids getting whooping cough) and same poor attention span that super slim kids had 20 years ago. And they are all obsessive about food. Know the calories of every food and painfully aware of everything they eat.

Sounds like we may be raising a lot of kids with eating disorders and you know, being slim as a kid, if one has "fat genetics" does NOT stop fatness as an adult.

And fatness as an adult does not mean lack of health either. In several comments about the campaign targeting childhood obesity, people have pointed out that they are rather large and still very healthy and fit. I will add MY comment to that - I weigh 261 at 5'5" and haven't had a cold since Dec 2005. Also I can do yoga and ride a trikke cambering scooter, dance. Pretty good for a 62 year old - truthfully, I am a whole lot healthier and stronger than some of the slim folks around me.

So what IS this all about? Selling diets? Fear mongering on the news to get people to watch so they see the ads? I know one thing it is NOT about. It is NOT about health, and it's NOT about the welfare or well being of our children and that is FOR SURE.

Friday, March 02, 2007

too fat to love? Maybe not!

Apparently Pat Buchanon is the one who started the "is Al Gore too fat to run for president" news which has hit the media like a ton of bricks. He was quoted in an interview as saying:

Another thing. Al Gore came in 40 pounds overweight for spring training, Joe.

So with that in mind, I took a survey on one of the large news sites which asked whether we would vote for Al Gore if he runs for office, still carrying the extra baggage. I of course, voted that his size wouldn't make any difference to me. That was expected with me but what was very surprising is that 62.5 percent of the survey respondents voted exactly the same way I did... and only some 17.5 percent said the fat would make a difference in their vote and another 20 percent stated they wouldn't vote for him in any case, fat or thin.

That, of course begs the question about whether the general public is really buying the "fat is ugly" stuff that the media is constantly pushing down our throats.

Another interesting tidbit is that Oprah, America's favorite talk show host, has high ratings... we all know that, but how many folks know that when Oprah is fatter, her ratings are even higher than when she's slim (she yo yo's a lot).

And Anna Nichole Smith, whose autopsy STILL has not been released ( why is that, I wonder - maybe because they DIDN'T find a lethal dose of meth in her system and she might have just had a sudden heart attack, a common ailment of those crashing weight off quickly as she did) - Anna Nicole Smith was just as popular when SHE was fat as when she was slim.

Other stars like Carnie Wilson actually had more of a career as a fat girl - after gastric bypass, she's been very stereo-typed as the "gastric bypass girl" with most fans ignoring the fact that she's extremely musically talented and even was a fairly good talk show host.

And then, there is Tyra Banks. She's not fat but she IS normal weight for her height (which is horrendously fat in the world of modeling) and since she's gained the weight, most agree she looks even MORE stunning than before and her ratings have picked up also.

Maybe just maybe, the public is tiring of the super slim types who look like they spent some time in a concentration camp? Or perhaps they are tiring of the ever growing list of very talented young people who have dropped dead from starving - young women who should have NOT had to die and who still could be sharing their talent with us had they been more sensible about size and eating...

Thoughts to ponder!