Cris LaBossiere

Cris LaBossiere
Strength training and mountain biking. My two favorites

Monday, January 24, 2011

New Guidelines for Exercise

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines Adults 18 - 64 years

Guidelines for youth, adults, and seniors

I blogged last week about these new guidelines being released.

Here they are, and the presentation is a little better than I anticipated.  I would still like to see more emphasis on how good being fit makes you feel today, instead of always focusing on future health benefits.

Yes, yes.. of course I completely support the promotion of exercise as a disease preventer.  Over a lifetime that is perhaps the greatest benefit.

But as factual as that may be, not many people in their teens through their 40's are making a big connection with how todays actions will affect their life 50 or 60 years from now.

I think benefits like feeling good right now, better cognition, feeling strong, flexible, alert, and energized (no I'm not plugging the latest super supplement, just exercise) are more immediately tangible.

Students can achieve higher test scores if they exercise before an exam.  That's an immediate benefit to exercise.

Stressed?  Who isn't?

Regular exercisers are less stressed.  A small amount of physical activity can immediately reduce stress levels, take the edge off, and invigorate you.  And at the same time you get a bunch of health benefits.

Knowing that future risk of illness is reduced has some appeal to it, but typically most people don't immediately associate value and benefit with exercise, so talking about a future benefit, which is abstract, does't have much punch to it.

Unless a person perceives benefit from exercise, they are unlikely to want to do it.

Just a thought..

Let's say there's a person handing out $100.00 bills for free, no strings.  It's a street corner lottery.  You have an option for prizes though:

$100.00 cash or, the feeling and the benefits of having done six months of regular exercise.

How many people will take the cash?

There's a good reason the cash is chosen.  We immediately understand the value and utility of money, nobody needs to explain the immediate or future benefits.. we get it.

Before I get emails saying that someone who has no food will have more immediate need for the $100.00, I'll agree that is undeniable.  However notwithstanding the obvious exceptions, most will still see no value in the free exercise benefits prize.

And that's my point.  The fitness gains one can make in six months is worth more than $100.00, but most will not perceive it that way.  Just the opposite is true, most will think that exercise is kooky, arduous, and interferes with more important things that have to get done.

If we had the ability to instantaneously make you as strong, flexible, alert and energized, compared to how week, out of energy, and stressed many people are, it would feel like you just popped a magic drug.  It would be a feeling that would be hard to give up, and that most would want back if taken away just as quickly.

The new guidelines for exercise let us know that Canadians are so out of shape that we'll benefit from very little exercise.  It doesn't take much to get going, and for the most part, adding more exercise and more vigorous exercise as you adapt, means more benefits.

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