Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pass the Paper--Hold the Popcorn

Here's what gets me.

Sometimes you might think all the world's problems can be solved by looking in your newspaper.

For example, once I was looking for the starting time of a movie when I stumbled across a story that said running beats swimming for weight loss. This came as both a head-whacker and a "Duh-h-h," because I remember back in the Embarrassing Sixties when the prevailing exercise advice was swimming and isometric exercises.

Swimming was best (so the theory went), because you are exercising all your muscles. Isometric exercises (where you just flex a few muscles against an immovable or counter-directional object) were good, because you could exercise specific muscles and not require a large area, such as a gymnasium.

As far as I know, no one ever recommended isometric swimming, probably because you can drown while forcing your arms or legs against the bottom, and using the side of the pool isn't really swimming.

Anyway, we all know how to lose weight: We just get rid of the pieces of our bodies we don't want, which usually comes in the form of ugly, disgusting, flapping in the breeze, bulging in the middle, protruding from the rear ... fat.

Unfortunately for Baby Boomers fast approaching, passing through or waving Bye-Bye to the Age of Weight Worries, you can't just take a knife and cut off the pieces you don't want. You have to improve your bodies on a slower basis by either eating less food, exercising more or preferably both.

And as we slowly lose the bloom of our youth and approach the lilacs of advancing age, we have to think more seriously about good health, proper diet and sensible exercise.

Because if it weren't for exercise, whenever we eat that Jumbo Supreme box of buttered popcorn at the movies, we tend to put on more weight than we normally take care of with our usual exercise, which for most of us consists of eating.

But the good news is that after that story I stumbled across another article that said other studies showed exercise is also a common way to shake the blues. The bad news is exercise improves your mood only if you're not used to exercising. You see, another article said if you do aerobic exercise daily, exercising has little effect on your mood.

Dr. Randy Larsen, a psychologist at the University of Michigan, said after research with Dr. Margaret Kasimatis at Hope College, "It's sedentary people who get the biggest boost in mood when they exercise."

Oh, great! So, we can either exercise daily and be thin, or we can exercise infrequently and be in a good mood. The question still flapping in the breeze with our unwanted body parts is "Which form of exercise, aside from eating, should I choose?"

Remember, everything we do is exercise. Sleeping is exercise (not a whole lot), walking is exercise, running is exercise (a whole lot), even thinking is exercise! (Which is why watching TV is not exercise.)

"Hey, wait a minute!" you say? "If everything I do is exercise, why am I sometimes in a good mood and sometimes in a bad mood?"

Good question, and the answer lies in "aerobic." Remember, the article said daily "aerobic" exercise has little effect on your mood, which could mean that if you start out exercising in a bad mood, you could also end up in a bad mood, especially if you were trying isometric swimming.

"Wait another minute!" you say? "'Aerobic' means 'living or active only in the presence of oxygen,' so if I breathe oxygen all the time and everything I do is exercise, why am I overweight?"

Another good question, and the answer is "I don't know."

However, I suspect that "exertion" and "heavy breathing" have something to do with what we normally call "aerobic exercise," as opposed to "watching TV." But don't try to fool Mother Nature by actively breathing heavily as you watch anything on television, thinking that will serve as your exercise for the day. The fat in our lungs is minimal.

So, we can't solve all our problems with a newspaper, especially weight problems. And naturally running beats swimming for weight loss. Running, your feet pound isometrically against the ground and your sweat flies off into the air.

Swimming, your arms and legs meet less resistance, your sweat mixes with the water and seeps right back into your body!

Duh-h-h. Now, pass the popcorn, please!

I rest my case.

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