There has been a clear push in the US to increase activity levels. Heck–even Ronald McDonald is moving around like Richard Simmons these days. All the recommendations from our national agencies promote more physical activity. What could be wrong with this?
If you HAD to make a choice (and none of us really do, do we..?) between diet and exercise, diet has the more powerful effect. So why is the message on diet weak and exercise strong?
My personal, biased opinion is that there is money to be made in exercising. Equipment, memberships, trainers, coaches…. This all generates income for someone. No one loses. Heck–weekend warriors pulling hamstrings have a tendency to benefit my practice as well.
However, merely making the isolated recommendation to avoid refined carbs will cost the major confectionery companies (Kellogg’s, Quaker, Nabisco, Craft) untold millions of dollars. They would essentially be wiped out if we made strong national recommendations to avoid refined carbs, hydrogenated oils, artificial flavors and colorings.
So the cynic’s view says that the health (or, in this case unhealth) of our country can be bought. Truth be told, nothing else seems to make sense.
Why do I bring this up? This particular study looked at newly diagnosed diabetics and what would happen if they did nothing (control), made positive dietary changes, or made the dietary changes and added exercise.
At 6 months the control group got worse. The other two groups improved despite needing less medication. However, there was no additional benefit to the exercise group.
This does NOT mean that you can scrap the exercise. It is likely that the exercise needs to be more aggresive than a pedometer based program. Aerobic (more short burst type) combined with strength training is the bare minimum. Also, exercise is a LONG term investment. I remember a commercial some years back where an overweight man in the locker room weighs himself, runs around the bench in the locker room and hops back up on the scale.
This desire for short term benefit is all too characteristic of the typical American mindset. Exercise is a lifestime of investment in your health and is not to be measured in 3, 6 or 12 month intervals, but rather health outcomes over the course of years and decades.