Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Obesity and the Exercise Myth
In his excellent August 17, 2009 TIME cover story "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin," John Cloud's real case isn't about exercise as the culprit, but exercise-induced eating--either from hunger or reward seeking. If we're going to address the obesity public health crisis, the first thing we'll have to acknowledge is that Americans are more than a bundle of unmitigated impulses. Just as frustration does not equal quitting, anger does not equal hitting, and arousal does not equal intercourse, between the urge to eat and the act of eating must come intervening rational thinking--a judgement call. (Devices like the scale, snug clothes or a mirror serve as decent proxies.) As someone who relies on the health benefits of daily exercise and comes from a family history of obesity, the defining difference between most overweight Americans and me isn't a fast metabolism, it's recognizing the difference between wanting of food versus partaking.