Thursday, October 23, 2008

Walking is Lawsuit-Free

Perhaps people are starting to get it. A recent article by the American Medical Association speaks of the need for physicians to promote strength training to their clients. Among the selling points:
  • Inactive people lose 5-7 lbs of muscle mass per decade (about a half pound per year)
  • The loss of physical independence that comes with our advanced years is largely due to muscle and strength loss
  • A large percentage of women over 55 years old could not pick up a ten pound object!
  • Strength training programs have been shown to help decrease arthritis pain to similar degrees that medicine does, can fight off osteoporosis, decrease blood glucose, improve metabolic rate, flexibility, and balance

Considering the pressing needs for strength training and all that people can get from it, why hasn't your physician already told you about it? Well, there are two reasons:

Even though they are extremely intelligent individuals, most doctors have NO education in the field of exercise (or nutrition, for that matter). Doctors are taught to recognize and treat pathologies. That in itself is a HUGE responsibility. Unfortunately, unless your doctor sought education in exercise outside of medical school, he or she probably does not know much more about it than the lay person.

The second reason is that physicians have to worry about lawsuits. The most common exercise advice my clients have received from their physicians is to walk and not to lift anything more than 40 lbs (or some other arbitrary amount). How often do you hear people say they suffered major injuries from walking? The second suggestion is an example of both points. While 40 lbs may be enough to effectively work smaller muscles of the body for some people, there are very few people who would benefit from using that amount on the leg press and row machines. Also, people are more likely to throw good form out the window with heavy weight (when not under the guidance of a professional), and poor form in strength training is what causes injury.

The article is evidence that we are making progress towards getting the truth out there...but we still have a long way to go.

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