Your Doctor Doesn’t Know Squat About Exercise
Fitness professionals are cautioned continuously not to overstep their scope of practice and attempt to “diagnose” or give medical advice; but turn the tables and it’s a different story. No one would ever ask a trainer to do a physical, so why do we ask physicians for exercise advice?
Sure, medical doctors have to study anatomy and physiology, but most of them know very little about human movement. Take The Biggest Loser “medical expert” Robert Huizenga, M.D. (possibly an even bigger problem on the show than Jillian Michaels), who helps design the morbidly obese contestants’ fitness programs.
In the February 2011 issue of Runner’s World, he’s quoted in a story as follows:
“Running is important in the contestants’ weight-loss journey because it’s the most efficient way to burn calories…That’s one reason we have the final four do a marathon. We want to encourage players to run as much as they can.”
Really?? Running is the most efficient way to burn calories?? Let’s ask Alwyn Cosgrove what he thinks about that. Heck, even the very same article alludes to the body of research showing long bouts of exercise (like marathons) trigger compensatory eating and aren’t the best way to shed pounds. Personally, I don’t see how crippling people so they’re forced to move less could possibly be an efficient way to lose weight, especially the amount of weight these people have to lose. According to the article, Dr. Huizenga thinks all the joint problems simply “go with the territory.”
It’s this kind of crap that holds our field back. Here we are trying to work together with the medical community to fight obesity while guys like this undermine our efforts and get away with giving bad advice just because they went to medical school. Newsflash: The fact that doctors can prescribe pills doesn’t mean they know how to prescribe exercise. If they did, we wouldn’t need the pills!
Don’t get me wrong, Dr. Huizenga is probably very smart and very good at what he studied at Harvard Medical School…which was immunology. I’ll even give him props for his efforts to stop obesity-related disease, and his emphasis on nutrition and having a “Yes I can” mindset. But the fact remains that he obviously doesn’t know anything about the effects of forces on the body if he’s preaching running as the cure for obesity.
I guess the “successes” on the show have nothing to do with the strict diets and 6-8 hours a day of exercise… The worst part is, The Biggest Loser contestants and millions of people who watch the show are being brainwashed into thinking they have to be in pain to lose weight – all because their exercise prescription is developed by an immunologist (and only slightly more qualified trainers).
For a safer weight-loss training program, check out the article on StrengthCoach.com (if you’re a member) called “Intelligent Interval Training” by Chris Kelly. Chris is also a contributor here, and he’s one who definitely knows his stuff.