As has been my tradition, in December I repost old favourites from years gone by. This year am looking back to 2014 and given it’s New Year Resolution time, figured this might be worth revisiting.
File this study under reality.
Researchers were curious whether or not labelling exercise “fat-burning” (as many exercise machines do) would have an impact on how much food a person ate post exercising.
The protocol was simple. Subjects were brought individually to a lab and were told they were there to evaluate newly developed training software for bike ergometers. They were then equipped with a heart rate monitor and completed a 20 minute low-moderate intensity cycle. Participants were randomly assigned to have one of two posters tacked to the wall in front of them while they rode. The first had a poster stating, “Fat-burning exercise – developing training software for exercise in the fat-burning zone.”, and the second, “Endurance exercise – developing training software for exercise in the endurance zone.” Following their rides subjects were told they could help themselves to snacks while completing a survey and were offered water and pretzels. Pretzels consumed were measured by means of a scale before and after each participant.
“Fat-burning” labels did have some impact, but I’m not going to dwell on it. Instead I want to point out that across both treatments participants burned on average 96 calories during their rides and they then proceeded to eat 135 calories (41% more calories than they burned) of post-exercise pretzels.
Combine these results with those from a study published a few weeks ago that people who went for a walk and told they were “exercising” consumed 41% more calories from indulgent desserts and drinks following a post-walk lunch than those who were told they were walking for “fun“.
We do eat because we exercise and I think in large part it’s because we’ve been taught that we’re supposed to – both by the food industry (see up above) and sadly too, by public health departments (see down below with the “Less Sit, More Whip” City of Ottawa bus poster) and health professionals who have markedly overplayed exercise’s role in weight management.
If you are interested in weight loss, make sure that regardless of how much you’re exercising, you’re paying attention to to food as well.
Lose weight in the kitchen, gain health in the gym.
As has been my tradition, in December I repost old favourites from years gone by. This year am looking back to 2014.
Thanks to Jonathan Clow for sharing this story with me.
So last year a PE teacher at Huron Park Secondary School in Woodstock, Ontario had their Grade 10 co-ed class use scales and measuring tapes in front of one another to calculate their body mass indices. Why? Because his gym class for the semester was to include once weekly circuit training that consisted of ten 90 second stations of burpees, weighted squats and other squat variations, mountain climbers, with no breaks, then a water break then 2 more circuits at 60 seconds and 30 seconds each without a break in between. At the end of the semester the kids were to once again publicly re-weigh and measure themselves in order to see how much weight their once weekly circuit training helped them to lose.
Oh, and he also allegedly informed the kids whose BMIs were elevated to begin with that they would likely develop diabetes.
No doubt the PE teacher was well-intentioned and felt that both public shame and just a bit of moving around would help his students because as far as he was concerned weight is an “energy balance” issue between in and out and that if he just had the kids up their “out”, the problem would be solved. I’ve no doubt too, that his sentiments represent the societal norm rather than an exception.
I’m told the kids mounted a boycott and letter writing campaign to the school but am unsure on how it all shook out. Fingers crossed for the kids.
I’d imagine there are many more such PE based horror stories out there, and if the teacher or school is reading this, perhaps he might have a peek at this meta-analysis of school PE programs which demonstrated yet again (and yes I know I’m a broken record), that weight wise, kids aren’t going to outrun their forks, or this study that suggests negative experiences in high school PE may well discourage the adoption of a commitment to lifelong exercise.
Bottom line for all of us – exercise should be cultivated and promoted on the basis of health and fun, and fat shaming has no place (or utility) in society let alone in a high school’s curriculum.