Laura Williams is Head of Insights at Addapp and a fully qualified personal trainer.
An article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine caused controversy last week by implying that exercise isn’t relevant to tackling obesity. “An obese person does not need to do one iota of exercise to lose weight, they just need to eat less,” said one of the study’s authors, to the BBC “My biggest concern is that the messaging that is coming to the public suggests you can eat what you like as long as you exercise. That is unscientific and wrong. You cannot outrun a bad diet.”
As a personal trainer, I think it’s a bit of a shame when any health expert starts a sentence with, “An obese person does not need to do one iota of exercise…” (and I told the BBC as such when they invited me to comment). Sure we get that you can lose pounds without budging from the couch, as long as you’re willing to live off very little, but is that a good – and realistic – message to be sending out? “Forget your fave boxercise class, just ditch the soda.” Newsflash: waistline aside, exercise has numerous health benefits.
And maybe I’ve missed something but I’ve never heard any food or drink company say, “Don’t worry if you drink 10 liters of our product a week – as long as you run like Forrest you’ll be fine.” Maybe that messaging just didn’t make it across the pond.
A more accurate and positive “Don’t eat your workout” message promoting both exercise and diet ‘damage limitation’ might be less discouraging. I have spent years as a personal trainer telling people that a mid-morning muffin will wipe out the 50 minutes they’ve just spent in the gym. Or that your average can of soda is equal to running a mile and a half. That’s not to suggest you should eat what you like then jump on the treadmill – it’s a way of giving those daily habits you may never give a second thought some calorie-context. Read More
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