whyIf a friend told you he wanted to improve his health and well being so he joined a football team, what would you think?

Well, I guess there are parts of playing football that could help.  He might improve stamina, strength, reflexes and enjoy the mental and social benefits.

Yet, there are risks of playing football, too.  If your friend loves playing football it could be worth the risk.

If that friend said he didn’t like it, but it would be worth it to be healthier and to lose weight, you might question his logic.

I see many people doing sports training when trying to exercise for weight loss or improving health.   It might not be called sports training, but by definition, that is what it is.

Exercise science (physiology) = The study of what happens in the body when we move – both during one single bout and when we move regularly to improve fitness level.

Sport science = Uses the knowledge of exercise science to improve specific skills in order to improve the ability to do a certain sport.

Clinical exercise science = a branch of exercise science that studies how exercise training can help treat medical conditions, including  heart diseases, asthma, back pain, elevated body weight, diabetes, depression etc.

You might notice some subtle, but very important differences.

Exercise science is the general science for all types goals for physical activity.

Sports science is training to do better at an athletic (or even military) activity.  Whether it is a personal goal of finishing a marathon or winning a team competition, for success the training sacrifices long term benefits for short term gains.

Clinical exercise science is training for being healthier by improving treatment of a medical condition and living better in some way.  For these results though, the plan needs to be one you can continue.    It is focused on the short as well as the long term benefits.

Yet, the difference between clinical exercise science and sports science are often mixed up in the fitness industry.  When someone works on improving their time in a plank exercise – is the goal to plank longer or improve their function?  Same with squat competitions, boot camp style exercise classes, and quick fix programs.  Is the goal to live better long term, or for some short term improvement doing that activity?

Our culture tends to value athleticism, overcoming the odds, pushing past limits.  These qualities get lots of media attention.  The average person exercising five days a week and is now able to play with his kids does not get much press.

This leads to lower motivation with exercise. I believe it is a big reason we still have about 80% of the US population does not get the recommended amounts of exercise to improve health and fitness.  Yes 80%!

A simple yet powerful question can decrease your risk of injury and loss of motivation.


Why am I doing this exercise, fitness class, exercise program, sports, competition, etc?

If you keep asking why until you get to the deepest personal reason.  Here you will find keys to lasting motivation.

Next, check to see if what you are doing is the best way to your personal definition of success.

Finally, create your own risk/benefit ratio.

List the potential risks:

  •  risk of the activity itself.  The higher the intensity, duration, frequency the greater the risk – especially if your body has not had time to adapt to it.   Does the exercise need to be that intense to get the benefits YOU want?
  • your current physical ability compared to what is needed for the activity – exercise at a comfortable challenging level is enough.
  • old or current injuries and/or medical condition,muscle weaknesses, etc.  We are only as strong as our weakest area.  Modify the activity to reduces strain and work on strengthening these areas too.

List the potential benefits:

  • benefits of the activity shown by exercise science
  • how this activity will help you get what you really want from exercise (IE; to be able to climb stairs easier, play with your kids, go hiking or biking again)
  • how this activity might improve your quality of life

Weight loss is probably one of the major areas for this confusion.  Yes, to lose weight one risk benefit 2needs to exercise.  Yet over exercising to lose weight brings risks for injury, loss of motivation and then not exercising – and this is one of the biggest risks for weight regain.  So consistency is the most important factor for any exercise program for weight loss.

When choosing an exercise program,  remember to ask why.   You will be more likely to stay motivated and reach your true success when what you are doing is designed to get you to YOUR goals.

Keep Moving, Be Well,



Please share these posts with anyone you know interested in losing weight with or without weight loss surgery.  Click here to learn more about the UMass Memorial Weight Center

These weekly blogs are general guidelines. These guidelines apply to patients who are cleared by a physician for the type of exercise described. Please contact your physician with any concerns or questions. Always report any symptoms associated with exercise, such as pain, irregular heartbeats, and dizziness or fainting, to your physician.

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Filed under Barriers, Exercise and Movement Science, Fitness Consumer, Injury Prevention, Myths, Weight Loss

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