Having Fun

What’s the Difference Physical Activity Makes?

At the Institute of Medicine, some of the world’s top experts in human physiology just spent two days describing the difference physical activity makes in exquisite detail. In a word, for most people, that difference is good health.

You can find plenty of academic debate about how and how much exercise contributes to weight outcomes in obesity. As we’ve discussed before, the false belief that exercise is a great way to lose weight is alive and well. The truth that jumps out from these experts is that a definitive weight benefit for exercise by itself is tough to quantify. In reality, the best weight outcomes result from a paying attention to both food and activity.

But what’s easy to quantify is the benefit for health and quality of life. People live longer, feel better, function better, protect themselves from chronic diseases, and are generally happier when they’re active.

And this is no different in bariatric surgery. In the recent randomized, controlled Bari-Active trial, people who got personalized physical activity counseling before surgery functioned and felt better. And likewise, another recent randomized, controlled study showed better heart and metabolic function for people who got personalized counseling on physical activity after surgery.

Exercise physiologists are fond of saying that “exercise is medicine.” Clearly it’s effective medicine for health and quality of life, even if it’s not a miracle weight loss remedy.

Click here for more information on the IOM workshop on physical activity and obesity. Click here to read the Bari-Active study of physical activity before bariatric surgery and here for the study of post-surgical exercise.

Having Fun, photograph © Gisella Klein / flickr

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2 Responses to “What’s the Difference Physical Activity Makes?”

  1. April 16, 2015 at 9:10 am, Joe Gitchell said:

    A broad lesson here: expectations matter. Helping folks have grounded expectations for the outcomes of their exertions is smart all around.

    • April 16, 2015 at 5:23 pm, Ted said:

      You’re right Joe. People act in the short term that they want you to lie to them, but in the long term, inflated expectations wreak havoc.