In a recent Time magazine cover story, a theory was floated about vigorous exercise causing people to eat more, resulting in weight gain. Ironically, I was reading this in the waiting room of my doctor’s office before my annual physical examination. The author and article made several poorly reasoned assumptions, to the extent that I was surprised I was reading this in a national news magazine; I would have expected something like this in a supermarket tabloid, but not Time magazine.
I was relieved to see someone in authority quickly challenge this foolishness; Dr. David Katz, who writes a weekly article for the New Haven Register (please see the entire article in the August 17 edition, which, at the time of this posting, was not yet on-line; hopefully it will be – it is excellent, as are all of his submissions). In the interim, the summary of the Dr. Katz article reiterates the undisputed fact that “exercise is vitally important to overall health” Dr. Katz also touches on a point that I wrote about earlier on this website, and that is the fact that because muscle in denser than fat, as you exercise (building muscle and replacing fat), you could actually get heavier while getting leaner and healthier. This is not theory, it is a medically accepted fact confirmed by a respected medical doctor of national renown.*
In closing, I would like to quote Dr. Katz: “Folks, physical activity is vitally important to health. And it is, indeed, of fundamental importance to lasting weight control and the construction and maintenance of lean body mass in lieu of fat. Being physically active will help make you lean, and is very likely to add both years to your life, and vitality to your years.”
* Update August 22 One of our athletes related the story of how she saw her physician recently, who told her that based upon her weight loss – which from his examination he visually estimated at 10 pounds or more – he was ordering a blood test. What the doctor failed to note was that her weight had increased two pounds! When she told her physician this fact (which was plain to see on her chart), the doctor was adamant – based upon his visual observation – she had lost over 10 pounds.
As you can expect, all of her blood work came back fine. Interesting how a physician would disregard hard data (the scale) and trust his perception instead, although I realize he was erring on the side of caution and had his patient’s best interest at heart. She had replaced fat with lean muscle, and yet while weighing just slightly more, looked thinner. A perfect example of lean muscle being denser – and weighing more – than body fat.