In the ongoing quest to untangle obesity’s cause and develop mitigation, energy balance remains the primary suspect but emerging research suggests HOW energy is expended may offer valuable insight. While any activity is better than no activity, it appears vigorous exertion can catalyze our cells to burn energy rather than lay dormant as health-sapping fat tissue. It follows that individuals who have a habit of regular vigorous exercise are less prone to obesity than those with lesser exertion, even if the duration of vigorous is less than the duration of moderate.

Net/net, it appears we aren’t working hard enough when we exercise!

Duh!, no surprise there. When the least is expected out of the general public, the least is what is had, and here are two examples. The federal exercise guidelines outline the minimum engagement to yield some health protection, and many, not all fitness professionals tend to be satisfied their clients show up rather than prompt vigorous exertion. How many times have you heard a trainer pander to, or placate a client with a ‘its good enough you are here’ tone rather than ‘I know you can do it (vigorous exercise) and here is how!’ Imagine if all trainers had achievement expectations for their clients and the professional capacity to foster results rather than operating as a nonconfrontive gym host so to keep them buying sessions, but that’s for a different post.

Obesity/overweight remains an unprecedented threat to our nation’s wellbeing. Without curbing the prevalence and trajectory, direct health care costs are estimated to exceed $550 billion from now to 2030, and the indirect cost to life quality deficiency nearly impossible to quantify. The obvious remedy is to communicate higher engagement expectations to we the people. The general public deserves more than being approached from the lowest common denominator or encouraged to reach for the lowest rung.

Cynical? Don’t be, after all, YOU are the general public, and I know you CAN change course — I have the evidence in the emails you write describing your achievement that is the result of your change to vigorous engagement! I also have evidence from my day job and blog readership. I teach, and my Pollyanna is regularly challenged by my students who ask what they need to know for the test rather than deepen their understanding of concepts. But the more I push back the more they actually critically analyze the content. And interestingly enough, my blogs that focus on a serious topic draw far more readers than those that have a cutesy picture or in some way are whimsically toned.

Finally, fitness trends come and go as pop culture sees fit but a recent one makes a clear point about expectation. Womens express workout facilities were all the rage 5-years ago but have since tanked. Likely for a myriad of reasons but even those devout in the beginning admitted pushing against air and jumping on mini tramps got real old, real fast. Any activity is always better than no activity but low expectations don’t give our activity psyche anything to sink its teeth into.

There is a crass saying ‘if you want to see dead dogs just look on the side of the road’ but the point is poignant. The more we expect the more response we get. Come on feds, come on fitness professionals, expect achievement, don’t be satisfied with the invitation you have extended. We don’t have anything to lose by changing course, save the obvious pun.