• When politics creep into Exercise Science…

    This is one political matter that I must speak up about!

    I don’t usually encourage political banter during my training sessions. In fact, I will often point out that politics serve only to divide the client/trainer relationship. However, I was recently reading a news website and fell upon an article that explains Donald Trump’s views on exercise…

    And…I can’t not respond…I just can’t!

    From the article entitled “Donald Trump has a very strange theory about exercise” by Chris Cillizza (http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/15/politics/donald-trump-exercise/), Trump considers exercise “misguided.” He argues that a person is like a battery and born with a finite amount of energy. The article calls this the “Battery theory of Energy.” Trump believes that exercise depletes our battery and, eventually, we run out of energy and, perhaps, even die early due to this exertion.

    Even though this idea is quite ludicrous to most Exercise Professionals, I do believe that this idea may seem logical to many people. In fact, if we use a machine analogy for our understanding of physiology, I can understand this line of thinking. However, humans don’t fuel themselves with a jet pack battery that needs replacement. We create our fuel from within! We are, in fact, our own rechargeable battery.

    Did you know that exercise is partly how we create our own energy? Let me explain further, citing the American Council on Exercise’s article: https://www.acefitness.org/blog/3256/the-three-primary-energy-pathways-explained

    Our bodies get energy from the breakdown of food sources into ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate, for you nerds…) Large amounts of ATP cannot be stored, so the body has to continually make this compound. There are three ways that we create energy (in the form of ATP) in the body:

    1. Phosphagen (immediate source)
    2. Anaerobic (somewhat slow, uses carbohydrates)
    3. Aerobic (slow, uses either carbohydrate or fat). Needs O2 for Conversion

    If we have an efficient system, our body will be able to easily convert our food and fresh Oxygen into ATP and we will feel energized. However, if we eat nutrient deficient foods and/or don’t exercise regularly, our system will not be able to readily make ATP as easily. When this happens, we will feel a loss in energy. Our bodies need to efficiently supply O2 throughout the body. Our heart pumps this O2 around, but only if we work this very important muscle with exercise. Exercise is one of the best ways to keep our body healthy and energized. If you keep yourself moving regularly, you will have more energy throughout your day, especially during your workout.

    Another point that Trump makes is that excessive exercise can be hard on the body. He says: “All my friends who work out all the time, they’re going for knee replacements, hip replacements- they’re a disaster.” Is this true? Somewhat. While a moderate amount of exercise is beneficial, too much of this “good thing” can be detrimental. This is commonly referred to as “Overtraining.” Overtraining is something that can be debilitating on the body, especially on the joints. Here are some signs, from ACE, that someone is overtraining: https://www.acefitness.org/updateable/update_display.aspx?pageID=634

    In summary, I want to emphasize that these “Trump theories” are not based in any kind of scientific research. Despite very low risks that a regular healthy adult will overtrain, I don’t think we should be avoiding exercise to avoid “depleting our battery” or injuring ourselves. Regular exercise and strength training is a healthy practice for a long and energetic life!

    -Eva Johnson



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