EXERCISE IS LIKE MEDICINE! - Its time to change the age old saying
For as long as I can remember the fitness industry has been using the mantra “Exercise is Medicine”. It started out with a very pure objective. To promote the fact that exercise was more than just gym class or curls for the girls or sweaty t-shirts. As an industry we wanted people to know that exercise was as important to your health as any other modality like proper diet, sleep, stress control, etc. But as the national data shows (42% of the population is diagnosed with obesity), our country continues to become more and more unhealthy. And while there are multiple aspects to being healthy, I want to focus this article on exercise. And specifically, the age-old mantra of Exercise is Medicine. Because while I can’t say it’s wrong, it is definitely incomplete. And by being incomplete, if followed as written, misses a critical element that could result in exercise actually not being the medicine people think they are taking.
When I started working out way back in the stone ages of the 1970s, exercise was all about playing sports or doing bench presses until you filled out your shirt to pick up girls. Over time I’ve been right in the middle of the evolution of exercise. From what it was then, to the health necessity it is now. And when I decided to make it a career in the 1980s, I came in with a commitment to really try to help those that wanted it. A commitment I’ve maintained ever since then. But as exercise became more commercialized and aimed at selling “stuff” it became more confusing to the public as to what exercise really was, I watched as exercise marketing was designed to actually scare away those that needed it most. And all the data shows the impact that confusion and perception have had on the public.
Well, the days of just ignoring exercise are now gone for good. Just as you would never consider not taking your blood pressure medications or any prescribed medications that are controlling a potential health risk, everyone must now consider exercise in that same vain. To be truly healthy, exercise is no longer a choice but a necessity.
And that bring s us to the mantra Exercise is LIKE Medicine. I know what you’re thinking. What’s the difference between Exercise is Medicine and Exercise is LIKE Medicine. The answer – real health. Huh??
So let’s start with ‘Exercise is Medicine”. Well, the truth is if you take the saying verbatim you can make the analogy that you can walk into any pharmacy and it’s filled with medicine. And you might even think you know what type you need (ie: antibiotics for your sinus infection). But unless you have been consulted by an expert professional (a physician) you wouldn’t know which antibiotic to choose, how much to take, how often, how long, etc. So yes antibiotics are medicine, but most likely ineffective or even harmful without the guidance, support, and direction of an expert. I’ve watched this happen with exercise for 35 years in every club I have ever managed. Yes almost everyone is exercising but are they doing it right for it to be “medicine”?
Now look at the revised version, and I’m sure you know by now where I am heading with this. Exercise is LIKE Medicine. Again, medicine to be safe and effective requires the support of an expert. Exercise is no different. When I designed the Cardio Coaching Training System I built into it an extensive initial consultation. After all, you can’t coach what you don’t know. And what I learned from both regular exercisers and non-exercisers is how confused everyone is about exercise. I heard theories and beliefs that made my toes curl. And with all the fitness-based TV shows, infomercials, and social media fitness experts out there selling something, I’m not surprised. I was surprised by how varied the perceptions were and how wrong they were. But as part of the consultation, we discuss the simple truths about exercise. And if I had a nickel for everyone that has said to me “but that’s not what so and so says” I would be writing this from my private island. So yes, Exercise is LIKE Medicine in that it requires the guidance and direction of an expert professional to ensure what you are doing is truly the best medicine for you.