You probably are doing more harm than good. I know this sounds shocking, but it’s the truth and somebody needs to tell it. Exercise programs, personal trainers and gyms are a huge fad, and big business is cashing in on people’s insecurity, guilt and FOMO.
What does the science say?
1. Exercise causes inflammation. Increased oxygen utilisation causes increased oxidative stress from free radicals. This damages the heart and other organs. Arnold Schwarzenegger had to have heart surgery at the age of 49!
2. Exercise can cause addiction to carbohydrates and cause pre-diabetes. It destroys your discipline to eat the right food because of the body’s natural craving for carbs after a workout.
3. Exercise causes adrenal fatigue.
4. Exercise causes premature aging.
5. Exercise damages the joints.
6. Exercise lowers your immune system, and gyms are breeding grounds for bacteria and viruses. Research shows that people who work out in a gym get sick more often.
7. Exercise can cause you to neglect relationships, much in the same way that working too much in your job does.
The Japanese believe that the heart has a finite number of beats, the back has a finite number of bends, and the cartilage has a finite number of shock absorptions, and once you’ve reached your individual quota, your body begins to fail.
Is exercise good for your body shape?
Most people think that exercise is what brings their body back to its original shape, but this is simply not true. Your body is shaped by the type of food you eat, how much you eat and when you eat. Your body does not like to be over-weight and out of shape. Your organs are primed for bringing you back to your equilibrium, so they have to work overtime to process unwanted food and inevitably store it as fat. Over the years, this takes its toll on your organs. If you eat just right, the body will naturally return to its original shape without the need to exercise. And this will also boost your immune system and your energy levels because you have taken the pressure off your organs.
Don’t get me too wrong. I believe in physical activity, it is great for your mental and emotional health. The right type of physical activity, that is. But here’s the thing, most physical activity promoted by gyms and personal trainers is not fun. It’s a WORK-out. It is stressful, not just on the body (as listed above), but also on your mind and emotions. There is the pressure of keeping up in a class, coupled with body shape insecurities. Who wants to finish WORK and go do more WORK at a gym? It is ALL work and too much of it causes the stress hormone cortisol to surge through your body.
Research emphatically shows that physical activity is only good for you if you are having fun doing it. Playing sport with mates is good for you because it is social. Dancing is the best exercise on the planet, which is why PLAY-outs such as Zumba is so popular. It significantly reduces cortisol and gives you a surge of feel good hormones. It’s a PLAY-out, not a WORK-out. Running around the house playing hide-and-seek with your kids is also a great play-out. Going for a power walk with a colleague at lunch time is also a good option. The main rule is how it makes you feel. If it makes you smile, it is fun. If it makes you grimace, then you know it’s a stress. It’s that simple.
Most people fall into the trap of WORKING-out because they think it’s the gateway to an awesome life. The truth is that there are other more effective strategies for living with high energy, excitement, a sharp mind, strong self-esteem, and purpose. These are:
1. Go out, have fun and socialise more with family and friends. Want to learn the art of having fun? Read this.
2. Stay away from toxic people.
3. Eat less, eat in season, eat 70 per cent green, eat slow, eat with gratitude.
4. Stop feeling guilty. If you do indulge, at least, enjoy it emotionally. The feel-good hormones are good for you.
5. Schedule intimacy with your partner. Never stop “dating” them.
6. Sleep more, wake at sunrise and have naps on weekends.
7. Get more sun on your eyes first in the morning, and on your body on weekends. It’s the best medicine for a good night’s sleep, your mood and your immune system.
8. Keep reading, learning and developing a growth mindset.
9. Work with people who challenge you and want the best for you.
10. Don’t watch or read the news. It promotes a fear mindset. Trust me, you would rather be uninformed than misinformed.
11. Make alone time to daydream or meditate or pray for what you want. Visualisation is a very powerful and underrated pastime.
In addition to his role as managing director of MSA National, Sam Makhoul is the legal group’s chief wellness officer, a keynote speaker and author of A Higher Branch.