Almost three years ago, I excoriated the American College of Sports Medicine for partnering with a medical screenings company to push useless screens upon, of all things, their membership. You can read the post here. It was truly embarrassing to a supposedly credible organization. The leadership’s reply, in addition to having their communications director call me and implore me to take the post down, was to claim they had no idea this was happening.
Now, the American Council on Exercise, another fitness industry trade group, beggars itself with an open letter to the U. S. Congress, in which it essentially asks to hop aboard the national healthcare gravy train. You can read the entire plaintive wail here. The essence of it, however is this:
The American Council on Exercise, which educates, certifies, and represents more than 55,000 fitness professionals, health coaches, and other allied health professionals, and advocates for extending the clinic into the community with science-based preventative services delivered by well qualified professionals not necessarily thought of as health providers, welcomes you to Washington.
Let me translate both the highlighted paragraph, and, indeed, the entire letter: hey, Congress, everyone else is making money from healthcare reform, what about us? Where’s our handout? We’re healthcare providers, too, sort of. That ought to be enough to qualify us for reimbursement, even though we have zero evidence that the fitness industry, or any specific category of fitness professional (you could be one by 5:00 pm today), actually can change outcomes. Exercise? Important almost beyond expression. Fitness industry and its entire coterie? Not so much. Over the past three decades, the fitness industry has boomed.Continue reading…
Example A: The Fitbro
Businesswoman Nilofer Merchant wrote an essay for the Harvard Business Review Blog, which has gone on to become one of the most read posts on the HBR site this year, in which she parrots the convention that sitting too much is killing us, going so far as to equate sitting with smoking. Runner’s World has inexplicably also trod this path, which will not lead us to the land of data, logic, or even common sense.
Capricious furniture vendors, imitating their wellness brethren, have grabbed the theme even though it is demonstrably untrue. Take, for example, Varidesk, which uses this YouTube video to sells its signature product, a desk that adjusts vertically. The theoretical claim, supported by nary a data point, is that workers should stand rather than sit.
On their website, the Varidesk folks also make this claim: “The VARIDESK was developed to address the negative side-effects of being seated for the majority of the working day.”Continue reading…
You may have seen some news regarding a study MyFitnessPal recently did with UCLA.
I wanted to take a minute to address this study, since we participated in it directly. We are excited that we got to work with some very smart people to answer a question we also wanted to know the answer to. We jumped at the opportunity to find out—is having your physician introduce you to the app and help you sign up enough to kickstart a health journey?
What we learned is that just introducing people to MyFitnessPal wasn’t enough. People have to be ready and willing to do the hard work.
The app itself does work—if you use it. Our own data and the data from the study show that the more you log on, the more you use the app, the more success you will see. Users that logged in the most lost the most weight. In fact, we already know that 88% of users who log for 7 days lose weight.
We make tools designed to make it as clear and simple as possible for you to see the path to achieving your fitness goals. We are not, however, making a magic bullet—because there is no magic bullet. Ultimately, you’re the one who has to do the work.
Diet and exercise: they were supposed to be the answer to all that ails America’s obesity and health care cost problem.
Signs of this Utopian vision are everywhere. From entire government departments encouraging healthy lifestyles through fitness, sports and nutrition, government websites that encourage “healthy lifestyles,” and entire community efforts to partner with health care organizations to fight obesity with the hope of cutting health care costs.
What if, believe it or not, when it comes to people with Type II diabetes, diet and exercise don’t affect the incidence of heart attack, stroke, or hospital admission for angina or even the incidence of death?
Suddenly, all health care cost savings bets are off. Suddenly, we have to re-tool, re-think our approach, understand and appreciate the limitation of lifestyle interventions to alter peoples’ medical destiny. Suddenly we have to come to grips with a the reality that weight loss and exercise won’t affect outcomes in certain patients. Suddenly, there is a sad reality that patients might note be able to affect their insurance premiums by enrolling in diet and exercise classes after all.
These thoughts are so disruptive to our most basic “healthy lifestyle” mantra that few can fathom such a situation. Nor would any members of the ever-beauty-and-weight-conscious main stream media be likely to report such a finding if it came to pass.
And yet, that is exactly what has happened.