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On leading horses to water

Comments (7)
By Peter Hadzipetros

Ever try to persuade someone to do something that could significantly improve their quality of life? Like your kid, maybe. Or a close friend or relative.

I'm not talking about trying to impose your finely honed view of the world on someone else. I am talking about trying to motivate them about taking steps towards getting a little more active.

It's not easy. It may even be futile.

A recent study suggests that doctors who talk to obese patients and their families about losing weight feel their words will have no effect.

The study's lead author — Dr. Sarah Barlow, a pediatric obesity specialist in St. Louis — says despite doctors' best efforts, they find families lack motivation or are so overwhelmed by the stresses of day-to-day living that they can't or won't change their eating or exercise habits.

The study found that families who changed what they ate and their level of exercise came to appointments already motivated — they wanted to lose weight and change their behaviour.

On the bright side, if the target of your good advice can come to understand that you don't necessarily need radical change to make a radical difference, anything is possible. The latest edition of the Mayo Clinic Proceedings devotes a lot of space to a study called the "Effects of High-Intensity Interval Walking Training on Physical Fitness and Blood Pressure in Middle-Aged and Older People". Yeah, the study found that the harder you work out, the better the benefits. It also found that the fact you get off the couch and work out at all is going to go a long way toward improving your health.

The journal devotes its lead editorial Exercise: A Walk in the Park? to the topic.

"Emphasis is moving away from intermittent sweat-drenched bouts of arduous exercise to more frequent walking, whether in the park, at work, or at home," Dr. James Levine writes.

"Walking exposes participants to few activity-associated injuries, whereas nearly all high-intensity athletes experience sports-associated injuries. Overall, the critical health benefit may be derived from the displacement of sedentariness by activity."

He notes that as a species, we evolved to walk and we spent much of our day doing that up until the past 150 years when we started to give up using our legs to get around. Walk more, weigh less.

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Comments (7)

Sarah, CPT

Quebec

Because there are doctors who are themselves healthy and actually care whether people get in shape?

I have been overweight, over-fat rather, at 43% bodyfat. I have looked for doctors' help and/or advise (not pills mind you) and always met people with dull skin, lifeless hair and un-clear eyes, some fat themselves, telling me to cut out gravies, cakes and alcohol. When I would tell them that I did not use any of the above other than once a week maximum, I was always met with a look of "right, another liar" and a shrug.

Result: I started reading nutrition books myself, and found a few internet sites which helped me help myself, because no one person would! To me, doctors ... barely good enough to write out certain prescriptions for ordinary things (birthcontrol pills, flu antibiotics, such things). Other than that, I stay clear of them all!

MPO

Posted July 28, 2007 12:05 PM

joan

Back to the topic at hand. Yes, we need to get more active but the activity has to realistically fit into our lives. Working adults and parents cannot always take a solid hour to exercise but small bites can be taken out of the day to add up to the magic hour.
e.g.climb the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Walk a few blocks to the store,or
school, don't drive. Take the baby for a ride in the stroller while he sleeps instead of putting him in the crib. And,yes, vacuuming is exercise as is going up and down stairs in a multi-level house.

Posted July 22, 2007 02:58 AM

The Secret

Vancouver

My sister and I have always laughed at the various bizarre diet plans and exercise regimines that our contemporaries buy into.

We know the secret to long-lasting weight loss and it is simple: eat less, move around more.

Posted July 20, 2007 04:07 PM

Ryan Sleigh

Ottawa

Sorry dude, but the only one who make someone change is themselves. You can only be a spark of the fire that burns within their heart, its up to them to follow it.

Posted July 17, 2007 04:13 PM

Jim

Timmins

Legs,
OK - you asked - There are a dozen or so hypothesises as to why we evolved to a upright stance. All evidence points to the idea that we became bipedal before our brains expanded. According to Darwin, "Man could not have attained his present dominant position in the world without the use of his hands, which are so admirably adapted to the act of obedience of his will". It is commonly accepted that moving upright allows us to use our forearms to defend , attack, eat, wade, as well as situating our main sensory equipment (eyes, ears, nose) as high as possible. As we adapted to carry things, our spine became stronger but less flexible, to the point that only Humans and kangaroos are faster upright among mammals.
As for housework - I consider it exercise, because my significant other wont let me go out for my daily run without doing some, then makes me clean up my sweaty clothes when I get home.

Posted July 17, 2007 01:50 PM

Legs

Ottawa

Were we evolved to walk or to run ( as per a previous post)? My kids would rather run somewhere than walk. Either way, yes, get up and move.
P.S. - Does house work count as exercise?

Posted July 17, 2007 10:11 AM

Jim

Timmins

Seeing as how you brought up evolution; I doubt that many Neanderthals that chose a sedentary lifestyle made it out of their teens. Similarly; a debilitating injury as minor as a broken toe may have caused the same fate. At the time Homo Sapiens made the changed from nomadic hunter/gatherers to domesticating crops and animals, life expectancy dropped due to higher infection rates among settlements and lower dietary variety.
Thanks to advances in nutrition, public health, and lower infant mortality rates; the life expectancy in the last century has risen 64% from 47 years to 77 years. The bad news is that over the last 100 years the Industrial revolution, followed a larger technological revolution has changed us from a labour-intensive workforce to lazy chair-bound, car-bound slobs. The scariest numbers come from the U.S., where over the last 20 years adult obesity has doubled, and infant/adolescent obesity has tripled. Throw in smoking, AIDS/HIV, and cancer; I think we are on the cusp of a epidemic from our excesses.
Sorry I got off on a tangent there - where was I - Oh yeah - Get up and do something!

Posted July 17, 2007 08:57 AM

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About the Author

Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

More from Peter Hadzipetros »

Recent Posts

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007
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Monday, July 16, 2007
Another day, another toenail
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Because there are doctors who are themselves healthy and ...
On leading horses to water
Back to the topic at hand. Yes, we need to get more acti...
On leading horses to water
My sister and I have always laughed at the various bizarr...
On leading horses to water
Sorry dude, but the only one who make someone change is t...
On leading horses to water
Legs, OK - you asked - There are a dozen or so hypo...
On leading horses to water

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