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Why exercise trumps science

Diet is important, but nothing beats the wellbeing benefits of exercise.

Diet is important, but nothing beats the wellbeing benefits of exercise.

In the last few years, we've seen various diet crazes sell umpteen millions of books, and we're bombarded by global companies that also claim to aid us in shedding kilos.

The next diet book everyone is talking about is now on bookshelves, and I saw its author, Dr Michael Mosely, speak last week with scientific authority about health and fitness myths, along with intermittent fasting and his book, The Fast Diet.

One thing that struck me was his assertion that "exercise is a bad form of weight loss". He continued that one minute of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), three times per week, was enough exercise.

I disagree with science on this one, and I'll disagree with anybody demonising any kind of exercise. When it comes to exercise, why do we always want to know about "less"?

I can't compare my master's degree in economics with his medical degree, yet some things just don't require more science. Inherently, we all know what to do when it comes to weight loss and living a healthy life, and exercise is part of that equation.

I don't have any science to back my claim, but I believe a man should be able to perform 20 push-ups. I believe women should also have a reasonable amount of strength and fitness obtained via exercise. Why? Because it makes life easier from a physical perspective, and vigorous exercise makes a person feel good. Also, there's nothing wrong with a bit of vanity to tone up for your best pair of jeans and a t-shirt.

It takes a lot more than one minute of exercise, three days per week to get you there.

I see people in their 60s and 70s who are still fit, strong, and moving their bodies. Their skin is healthy, their eyes are crisp, and they seem witty and alive. That's from a combination of plenty of exercise and healthy eating. They move, breathe, circulate blood, stretch, lift, and activate every muscle and bone in their bodies, day in and day out.

It's a statistical fact that we're getting fatter and fatter, so what is science really doing for us?

I now know why we shouldn't lean so much on science. The reason isn't Dr Mosely, or any other book. It's not carbs, or fat grams, or a Zumba v CrossFit argument. It's all about you. I don't have the answers, but I have the questions when it comes to solving the weight-loss epidemic. And those two questions are:

  • Can you change; and
  • Can you change permanently?

What I care about is your mind, and your ability to CHANGE. To adopt healthy cooking habits. To decide to exercise. To battle against all the naughty snacking and drinks. To love yourself and care for yourself.

Every verb in the paragraph above isn't about push-ups versus potatoes, it's about your mind. There are hundreds of millions of methods and articles on exercise; more on food, healthy eating, and diets. Before you get into any of that, you have to have to look at yourself in the mirror and consider those two questions at the top of the weight-loss pyramid. Doctors, personal trainers, and scientists can't answer them - only you can.

Can you put down tech items like your television, computer, tablet, and phone for one hour per day? Then do some exercise with intensity during that hour.

As I've said before, the mind is like a waterfall. Change your mind, and then change can flow down to the rest of the body.

I believe that approach usurps any scientific study out there.

I'll never be a bestselling author, and I can handle that. I started a weight-loss, fundraising month in October called Droptober, where I'm asking folks to live a healthier lifestyle that results in weight loss.

During Droptober, I don't care about science; I care about your mind, and your ability to change. To get inspired, commit, and stay motivated to live a happier and healthier life.

If you can do that for a month, then I know you can change, regardless of what the science says.

Do you believe you can lose weight through exercise?

You can email me here or check out Droptober here.


  • Spot on,oh i`m 68 and as fit as a Malley Bull,and still take a paddock full ;-)

    Date and time
    September 25, 2013, 9:31AM
    • Btw - it's "Mallee" bull.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 10:50AM
    • Maybe not if you come from Malley

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 11:02AM
    • This is what is wrong with the world today. Just because you believe something doesn't make it right. How you verify if something actually works or not is to test it, and the most robust methods for testing is called science. Bravo if what you are doing works for you, but let's not get carried away and throw away hundreds of years of human progress just because a personal trainer feels good about himself.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 11:39AM
    • Pete is right. This article has only one basis, that the author Michael Jarosky says so. His call on anecdotal evidence is pathetic. I've met 90 year olds who have smoked all their life.... Science on the other hand involves data based on lots of people. If the science is correct, then Dr Michael Mosely has a point.

      Michael Jarosky's statement that "I believe a man should be able to perform 20 push-ups" is not based on evidence that this is important but on his personal mindset. That mindset seems to be one he is unwilling to change. In his wish to change people, is he himself willing to change in the face of evidence?

      Lastly, this comes down to lifestyle choices, both of which may be equally healthy. (Science would answer that question.) Then if someone chose Dr Mosely rather than Michael Jarosky's suggested lifestyle, then so be it. It just comes down to a religious war and Michael Jarosky is looking rather myopic.

      Paul T
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 12:07PM
    • I have spent my whole life trying to work out exactly what works for me. And when I do I will write a diet/weight loss/self help manifesto that will sell squillions for a short period = a healthy retirement.
      Actually the fasting isn't a bad mental and physical exercise in itself but does not necessarily have to be weekly. It can just be when you feel a bit blobbed or up for a day without intake. The rest (as MJ well points out) is common sense and balance in diet and exercise. We must surely know that fast food/soft drinks 7 days a week is bad for us but what is the cue that prompts change so that we take charge? That requires motivation and discipline and THAT question is where the money is - be it 'special' lycra tights, air 'boing-boing' running shoes or 28 day coriander diets, modern humans will mostly reach for the seemingly easier fix. Personal trainer anyone?

      Dr. New Trishen
      Laboratory 9
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 12:17PM
    • Spot on, this article's exposure of science has me worried, particularly for our kiddies. There is a clear correlation between learning science and obesity, especially for children.
      - Is science being taught in our schools?
      - Should children be exposed to facts?
      - Are Reason and Empirical Evidence Suitable School Subjects?

      John Scopes
      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 1:25PM
  • Of course you can lose weight through exercise - along with dietary changes if needed.

    3 minutes per week of HIIT would do nothing for me really.

    Date and time
    September 25, 2013, 9:33AM
    • Then don't YOU do it.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 1:26PM
    • @ Kross

      Thanks Kross. I appreciate your time taken to draft that interesting response.

      I will be sure to take your advice.

      Date and time
      September 25, 2013, 1:36PM

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