Exercise as the Savior to Chronic Health Problems?

CEO Greg Glassman, CrossFit, started in 2000

CEO Greg Glassman, CrossFit, started in 2000

Sometimes you need to recognize that a system is broken and not as helpful as our expectations. The Western medical system is one such system. Yes, we are living longer, with viruses and bacteria largely at bay. As we progress to better health, chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, heart failure, diabetes and obesity have become much more prevalent. These chronic diseases show little abatement with current guidelines. “Lose weight, reduce salt intake, exercise more” may be medically valid advice, but the words are much easier to say and harder to implement.

There have been research that says that the sugar industry had infiltrated government health organizations and made fat the boogieman of health. In turn we needed to add salt and sugar to make our food taste palatable. This was great for the sugar industry. We now realize that fat is not bad at all, that we need it. We also realize that sugar has made us very sick, with record levels of diabetes.

Can obesity be similar? Crossfit president‘s war on Big Soda may be similar. Pepsi and Coke are powerful companies with significant influence and resources.

The focus stems, in part, from a lawsuit CrossFit filed against the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), a group that certifies fitness trainers and is a competitor of CrossFit. The group published a study showing CrossFit is dangerous, as the Washington Post reported, and Glassman discovered the NSCA is partially funded by Pepsi. (The NSCA study included false data, and the journal wound up retracting the study in 2017 because of ethical breaches.)

The more Glassman explored the nature of the soda industry’s influence on health, the more he and his team started seeing and publicizing big soda’s fingerprints everywhere — funding studies, sporting events, even donating money to the foundations of government institutions like the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. CrossFit, for instance, was the first to discover that Trump-appointed ex-CDC Director Brenda Fitzgerald had ties to Coca-Cola.

CEO Greg Glassman, CrossFit, started in 2000.

CEO Greg Glassman, CrossFit, started in 2000.

While Crossfit might not be the exact solution, extrapolating out might yield value. Exercise in the form of weight lifting promotes muscle growth and joint health. Moving quickly between exercises provides a cardio workout. Combined with eating less overall and less sugar and processed carbs in particular, might this reverse the laggard trend in treating chronic diseases, most of which are curable?

The solution is much more complex than it appears. We cannot make the lifestyle changes required. People choose to work, continue their inactivity and have no time to work out. Working out is simply not important enough. What people want is to be able to go about their regular unhealthy routine and take a pill to ward off all the evils. The pharmaceutical companies are working on the pill solution, but have not had success.

Crossfit blows this whole notion of the magic bullet away. There is no magic bullet: You need to work out with weights, do cardio, eat a restricted diet, daily. Our bodies are not made to be this sedate, and as a result this is making us sick. We cannot swallow our way out of these chronic diseases.

Doctors who do Crossfit propose a different solution. Put a Crossfit gym right beside their clinics and prescribe patients to exercise, maybe with the doctor. If exercise can ward away these chronic diseases, is it not worth a try? With the current system we are not getting any better.

Doctors, Glassman says, can see that CrossFit “fucking works.” And he’s become an unlikely advocate for solving an inconvenient problem: With the exception of bariatric surgery, doctors have few tools for treating, let alone preventing, obesity and other lifestyle-related diseases.

Difficult, is the solution, but not because of the workout. The change of lifestyle is the clincher. Is our long-term health important enough?

1 thought on “Exercise as the Savior to Chronic Health Problems?

  1. Abby Er

    Yes, exercise is crucial to achieve good health. I lead a very stressful life. Spending hours in front of the computer screen. Eight months ago I was down with digestive problems. Doctor called it Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS in short. Symptoms are bloating, belching and acid reflux. I was wondering why it happened again as I was always very careful with my diet and also slightly underweight. The answer is due to LACK OF EXERCISE. Four months ago I started learning Tai Chi and diligently practice everyday. I started to do research and is amazed the tremendous health benefits Tai Chi practice brings. It’s looks like a slow moving exercise but if practice correctly you will sweat a lot. You become more agile and all the stiff muscles seems to loosen gradually. And you do not have to pay a lot compare to gym membership fee. I am already 56 years old. All my digestive problems gradually disappeared . I am happy and healthy now. Please tell your readers out there to start learning Tai Chi now.
    Thank you.

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