Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Scientist and the Stairmaster

Gary Taubes writes:
Why most of us believe that exercise makes us thinner—and why we're wrong.

Just last month, the American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine published joint guidelines for physical activity and health. They suggested that 30 minutes of moderate physical activity five days a week is necessary to “promote and maintain health.” What they didn’t say, though, was that more physical activity will lead us to lose weight. Indeed, the best they could say about the relationship between fat and exercise was this: “It is reasonable to assume that persons with relatively high daily energy expenditures would be less likely to gain weight over time, compared with those who have low energy expenditures. So far, data to support this hypothesis are not particularly compelling.” In other words, despite half a century of efforts to prove otherwise, scientists still can’t say that exercise will help keep off the pounds.
This article shows how hard it is to prove anything about free will and human behavior. It seems obvious that you could exercise to lose weight, but the medical studies don't prove it.

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