Find an Exercise You Enjoy: Stupid Advice

by Neil Anderson

Sitting here reading the 20 Easy Living Tips That Won't Leave You Hating Life.

Long title.  Looks like something I'd write.

Strike one?

Found it on Elite Daily.  They bill themselves as The Voice of Generation Y.  How do you not stop and read a web-site devoted to group of people known as the Echo Boomers?

Tell me you wouldn't go see a band named The Echo Boomers.

FRICKIN love Millennials.  Love their civic-mindedness.  Love their entrepreneurial spirit.  Love their digital and engineering genius.  Love them AND ... I'm worried about them.  More specifically, about their health.  The generation who has given us such notables as Mark Zuckerberg and Taylor Swift is also predicted to be the first generation who will not out-live their parents. 

According to experts, one in three (33%) children in the United States are now considered overweight, or obese.  In case you don't think that's a bad thing, you need to understand that just 50 years ago that number was thought to be roughly 3-4%. 

To review: Over weight and obese kids (adults too - lest you think you are getting off easy on this one) are at risk for developing problems that affect their present and future health and quality of life.  These problems include (but aren't limited to):

High blood pressure
High cholesterol
Abnormal blood lipid levels
Insulin resistance
Diabetes (type I & II)
Bone and joint problems
Sleep problems (like apnea)
Premature sexual development
Anxiety
Depression

These are just to name a few - that we know about. 

You might argue that these numbers are flawed.  You might say that the "1 in 3" is nothing more than a product of better records keeping.  That since there really are no "generally accepted" standards for measuring the body composition of children, any conclusions made from non-standardized tests would, of course, be invalid. 

Well, you are right.  And you'd have us on all of those points. 

Right up until you drive by your local school yard.  If you are even mildly observant, you will notice some sights that'll poke holes in your arguments. 

Kid's health is a complex issue.  Probably not easily solved.  It makes sense that a little more exercise and a few more fruits and veggies would go a long way toward improving the health  of Generation Y.  But, being healthy is not their culture (yet?).  It's not the culture of anyone they know.  Lord knows the Baby Boomers and X'ers are doing EVERYTHING they can think of (ducking, dodging, counseling, pills, ... surgery.)  to avoid exercising and eating right.  Why wouldn't Millennials pick up on this?  More to the point, why wouldn't they magnify it?  They are masters at magnification.  It's what they do (Think video games/facebook).  

I was hoping to catch some awesome advice for solving this complex issue.  So I started searching for web-sites written to Millennials by Millennials.  When I stumbled across The Voice of Generation-Y, I got excited.  Even more-so when I found an article outlining 20 Easy Healthy Living Tips That Won't Leave You Hating Life.

I'm a sucker for anything easy.  An even bigger sucker for easy things that won't leave me hating life. 

Score AND score.

The article is terrific.  Hope you'll peruse (click the link above).  The author nails it with some cool opening lines like, "[W]ho really has the time or energy to cook organic, gourmet meals that necessitate two hours of prep time?"  And "To put it bluntly, a great deal of health advice demands too much effort, time and money." 

FRICKIN love.

Then, he nails it with a list of some excellent points.  Simple points.  Points that DID make me feel like I'd be "cheating" if I followed his words.  Points like:

1 - Doing more body weight exercises. (Hell Yeah!  Dude must be a Peep.)
2 - Eating more home cooked meals. (Right ON, brother.)

 and ...

5 - Never shop on an empty stomach (BAM!  That just happened.)

But then he wrote a stupid thing.  It's the same stupid thing that I've been reading as "good advice" since the late 80's.  It's been around for much longer.  And maybe it was good advice a couple of hundred years ago.  But, it's not anymore.  In fact, NOW it's detrimental to your health.

8 - Find an exercise that you enjoy ... Crap.  You lost me.

The advice to "Find an exercise you enjoy" NEVER works.  It's incomplete.  It is advice that shows a fundamental lack of understanding about what exercise is.

I enjoy hiking.  That's exercise, right?  Can I expect a daily hike to keep my body healthy?  ALL the way healthy?  Isn't my body capable of more?  Doesn't it go fast (hiking is not fast).  Doesn't it lift (push, pull, squat, core) heavy things?  Can't it jump, stretch & throw?  Am I to expect hiking to keep my body capable of doing ANY of this?  

So, what if it doesn't?

Well, the thing to realize is that there are HEALTH benefits to lifting heavy things and going fast, jumping, throwing, stretching and etc.  These health benefits are specific to the activity.  In other words, they can't be obtained by any other means.  

Each of these (lifting, jumping, stretching, etc) contain health benefits that are critical to our existence, not to mention, that add to our capability and function while here.  This MANDATES our participation in many different activities.  When you come to realize this, it kind of pokes some big holes in that whole "find an exercise you like" thing, doesn't it?    

I don't want to pick on the author of this article too much here.  He didn't write anything that hasn't been perpetuated by many, many ill advised health professionals world-wide.  Besides, the rest of the article is, pretty much, spot on.  I have a few issues with # 11, but we can save for another day. 

If health professionals would only finish the sentence THEN it would be correct (i.e. NOT stupid).  It needs to say:

8.  Find an exercise you enjoy, and add it to a comprehensive workout program that is complete and offers all the health advantages your body needs (like GPP).

That'd be good stuff. 

Or, at least, they should keep it honest and say something like, 

8.  Find an exercise you enjoy and add it to stuff you probably won't particularly like.  Make sure it is comprehensive and complete (like GPP).

Man, you throw a few "Easys" in there ... and we're golden!