I once was checking my email and saw some of the headlines posted under my web browser’s “Hot Topics List”. More often than not I glance at these for two seconds (as I do not care about Justin Beiber or most of what counts as a hot topic) but I do like to be informed about the world around me.
However, on this day, one of the headlines was:
"The bare minimum amount of exercise you need to stay healthy (it's less than you think!)"
I shook my head and read on. The gist of the article is that just seven minutes of exercise weekly, if it is vigorous, may prevent diabetes by controlling your blood sugar. Yep, SEVEN MINUTES a week. British researchers say that "You can make just as big as an effect doing this as you can by doing hours and hours of endurance training each week."
OK, let's get serious here. I get the reason for this article. Every single person in America thinks they have the busiest schedule on the planet. No one else has a job, or kids or a life to balance. As such, it is hard to find time to exercise (or so I am told.)
These articles are designed to say "Hey, I know you are super-d-duper busy but you CAN still be healthy." They are trying to get people to at least start on an exercise plan hoping that the feel-good benefits will make them exercise more, plan their day better, eat more healthily and do so incrementally. I get that. Sometimes it is the baby steps that are needed to get us going.
The problem is the article is only talking about what "may" be needed to help control your blood sugar. I think every exercise sports therapist type person in the world would agree that blood sugar alone and its control are not all that is needed to stay healthy, as the title suggests.
And do we really want to be advocating the bare minimum? Is that what this country has come to? I mean, the obesity epidemic is well-documented. After returning from foreign countries I am shocked at how fat the average American is. Or, in my line of work, after spending a weekend at a health and fitness expo, walking into an airport is a shock to the system. When I was in Korea a few years ago, my two Aussie friends and I played a game of "Spot the Overweight Korean Person." It took us over half an hour to even find one and we were out running amongst the masses. Do you think you could make it to your car before the winner of that same game would be declared here in America?
Perhaps I am too sensitive to the entire exercise side of things. People know what I have done and think that it is obvious that I am all for exercising because it is so easy for me. I am here to tell you that hasn't always been the case. I was definitely overweight in college when I played rugby. Not obese but I did eat a little too much a little too late in the day and too often the wrong types of food. So suffice it to say that even though I know the health benefits of exercise, a run can sometimes be the last thing in the world I want to do.
But here is the kicker. I will run/swim/bike etc. I will not necessarily go run vigorously for 7 minutes and come home and call it a day. Bare minimum or not, I want more. And I am not saying that solely about running and exercise. I am talking about life.
Do not settle for bare minimum. Refuse the status quo. Strive for more. If you fall short of more it will still be far greater than the equivalent of 7 minutes a week.