80% of Texans do not meet exercise guidelines

The D magazine had an article a few months back saying that only 1 in 5 Texans meet Federal Guidelines for exercise. It is an interesting read.

It cements what I have seen, in my practice as a bariatric surgeon, that Americans (and yes, Texans) do not exercise as much as they think they do. I do not mean exercise to lose weight, just exercise to stay healthy. The article emphasizes the Federal Exercise Guidelines for Americans. Many people tell me they are “active” by going to work, playing with their children or working in the yard. Those are all good and worthwhile activities; they are not exercise.

The problem I have with the article as well as with the guidelines is that they only talk about exercise to stay healthy, NOT LOSE WEIGHT. When more than 1/3 of the American population is obese, this is a major mistake. Losing weight is just as an important health issue as staying physically fit. The mistake everyone makes is thinking exercising automatically equals weight loss; this is not correct. The Federal Guidelines are written for people who are already in OK physical condition to stay that way. It recommends 150 minutes of aerobic exercise a week! And only 2 days of resistance/ weight training a day. Unfortunately, these are old ideas and not based on good science.

I have written before on my blog that, in order to lose weight, one needs 1 hour of aerobic exercise every day. It also needs a change in nutrition.

Not surprisingly the article also mentions that most people over-report how much exercise they do. 40% of people thought they were meeting the Federal Guidelines. When heart monitors were placed on them, only 4% of people met the recommended guidelines.

The other disappointing items are the psycho babble “experts” feel they have to utter, which makes no sense in changing Americans /Texans’ actions about health, fitness and exercise. One quote – “Improving access to safe and convenient places where people can be physically active can help make the active choice the easy choice” – What the heck does that mean? I run on my neighborhood street, dodging cars. As a boy I lived in a not so safe neighborhood. I ran & played ball on the sidewalk. Wherever you live, that’s where you exercise. Or find a high school or middle school with a track and exercise there. Or join a gym, but for gosh sakes, go to that gym and exercise. Ignore these talking heads and use your common sense.

But please, exercise every day. Your health depends on it.