The “quick fix” health program… They go by many names, but generally their purpose is to convince you that for the right amount of money, with the right pill, with no more than 10 minutes a day, you can transform your body, your health and your life!
Sounds fabulous, right!?
It amazes me how readily we can be won over by the notion that a healthy and fit body and mind can be achieved with little or no effort. I see it often.
As a Kinesiologist, I have the privilege of seeing a broad cross-section of people, with a wide variety of goals and reasons for coming in. In some ways, it’s the best part of my job, getting to connect with people, listen to their stories, find out a bit about who they are. Many people initially come in with physical pain of some kind. Many are looking for help with “losing a couple pounds”. Many don’t really know the difference between what I do and what a personal trainer does, which is common (and I discuss what kinesiology is here). Some enter the clinic looking for the motivation to start exercising, needing the accountability of a coach to “kick-start” their efforts. Still many others come to see me with debilitating pain, years of sedentary living, and poor eating habits. And more and more, I’ve been getting the chance to work with people with various mental health challenges.
You might see yourself as part of one of the groups listed above, or maybe more than one; maybe none. Either way, I still feel strongly that I have the coolest job and get to help some really cool people reach their goals. And the coolest part is, all these different people are coming in seeking something a little different, and hopefully, they all see improvement because of what they receive from me. What I offer all these different kinds of people, is a magical remedy that fixes just about every single health conditions. It is a single therapy, and yet it’s breadth in treatment is wide across all populations. If I were a doctor, it would be the one prescription that I give every patient that comes in to see me.
The remedy is: exercise!
It doesn’t always look the same; but adjust the dosage here and there, and voila it will work for you. As a Kinesiologist working at physiotherapy in Victoria, it’s my job to moderate a few key training principles: frequency, duration, time and type. These variables are what transform a program from a post-surgical recovery to elite strength and conditioning. So if you’re worried exercise isn’t for you, let me assure you here. It is.
Truly, no other intervention or treatment Has been proven to be as effective as exercise. Watch this video illustrating the scientifically proven benefits of exercise: it’s called 23.5 hours.
When we reach the point that we’d like to make a change in our life and start to get more active, it can be daunting. A lot of the time, we’re afraid to try to do something and fail before we start. Sometimes, we begin with too much gusto, burn out after a few weeks and then make our way back to the couch. Sound familiar?
Marginal Gains Concept
The principle that I often use with people when they exercise is the concept of marginal gains. Perhaps you’ve seen an article (one is found here) about the British cycling team and how after a disappointing Olympic performance, their new program director used the concept of marginal gains to lead the team back to the podium. The focus of their program was not on the overall goal of winning more medals, but rather on getting 1% better across a variety of areas of performance. In the same way, decreasing our sugar intake a bit, doing 5 minutes of stretching each morning and night, or deciding to do a set of 15 body weight squats while your morning shower heats up are the types of activities that can really make lasting change.
Seeking out a Kinesiologist or a personal trainer to help with your goals, for many people, is the best decision that they make for their health. Of course, exercise is most effective when it goes hand in hand with good diet choices. So this year, my recommendation is to identify and avoid the “quick-fix” exercise or diet program, which generally fizzles into failure, discouragement, and frustration. Instead, make small, simple, bite-size choices that can make the biggest difference.
Guest blogger, Ben Stanford