How to use research to find the best way to exercise

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Have you heard the latest research on the best exercise for…?

New research findings are often used to motivate people to exercise.   We have plenty of research on exercise, pretty much concluding it is a good thing to do (understatement).  When you hear research about exercise, does it motivate you, or does it just make you feel more guilt for not doing enough exercise?

There is a principle, or a known fact about how to get what you want from exercise.  It is called the Principle of Individuality.  It tells us that every body responds differently to exercise.  This is why we need so many subjects in a wide variety of  studies to get to the truth about exercise.  If we all responded to exercise the same, we would only need one person per research study.  But the fact is, each body and brain responds differently even when doing the exact same exercise.

Yet we are constantly “sold” on a fitness program because it worked for someone.  This is one of the strategies for effective marketing.   Seeing the results someone else got boosts our confidence we can get them too.  This marketing strategy makes us forget the fact that each of us responds differently to the same exercise.

How your body responds also varies under different circumstances. What worked at one point in your life is not certain to work at another stage in life.  I am pretty sure you have experienced this phenomenon –  doing what you have always done does not mean your body will always get the same results.  Same goes for exercise motivation.  What was once motivating, may suddenly be not at all motivating.

Being guided by research is much better than basing what you do on myth or tradition.  But, how can you effectively use research as a motivator and a guide for exercise?  Try keeping these things in mind when you hear about the latest research on exercise:

  • Know the facts about how the body responds to exercise by knowing these helpful principles of exercise training:
    • Individuality:  Every body responds differently.  Research only give us the average of all of those differences.
    • Specificity:  You get what you train for.  If the study was done on athletes, and you are not exercising to get a competitive edge, just to be healthy, skip over that study.  Focus on the research that is on people close to your age, health status and studying the benefits you want.
    • Reversibility: The effects of exercise training are reversible.    If the research drains your motivation because it only makes you feel guilt rather than motivated, skip over it.
    • Progressive Overload:  The body adapts gradually to the just right level of challenge.    If someone uses “research” to tell you how to get results fast, that research is probably questionable or ignoring one of the above facts.  (and probably funded by the company selling you the program)
  • Look at where the study was published (if at all).  If it is in a peer reviewed journal that is a good sign. If the study is mentioned, but gives no reference to where it is published, be leery about what they are telling you.
  • As a final say, always listen to your body to find what is right for you with exercise.

You are your best “subject” when it comes to exercise research that helps you find what is right for you.  Be guided by good quality research, but don’t forget that the “data” your body provides moment by moment is your most reliable source of information.

Keep Moving, Be Well,


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by | August 27, 2018 · 7:06 pm

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