The start of a #revolution
During my university studies, I encountered a question on an exam that asked what elements make up “physical activity”. In part, due to my lack of knowledge, and in part because I was feeling a bit rebellious, I answered indifferently: “Who cares, as long as we participate more in physical activity”. After the exam, I remembered that our textbook stated that the elements were frequency, intensity, volume (time), and type of exercise, but I still was not sure why physical activity needed to be cut up and classified like this. I did not understand why physical activity had to be “exercise”.
While I enjoy physical activity and participating in sport myself, over the years I have wondered about “physical activity” and the seemingly uncontested idea that participating in physical activity is the only way to improve our physical fitness and health. Why do we have to put on our exercise clothes in order to improve our health? Why must we run that same loop over and over again and why do we need to repeat the same motions day in and day out for that specified period of time in order to achieve results?
My ideas about physical activity have developed through meeting hundreds of people through the research, coaching, and lecturing that I have done. Exercise prescription, regardless of how perfectly it is prepared, has never quite been successful. More important that exercise prescription is how important people find achieving personal change and finding the proper steps towards change is more successful than any kind of written exercise prescription.
In 2008, a former classmate and current colleague sent me American professor Marc Hamilton’s review article that revolutionized my thoughts. The review explained that sitting is a health risk. The studies reviewed showed that sitting less improved health and even indicated that sitting less could improve health variables that remained unchanged by participating in regular physical activity.
I read every word of that review because with each word my (maybe strange) questioning of traditional methods of exercise prescription was validated.
This review inspired me to start busting the myths surrounding traditional exercise prescription. I decided to lower the bar for “physical activity” and make it accessible to everyone. I understood that being physically active should not require participating in exercise or sport culture, but that it should be a part of our daily lives. Our body should work as it was intended to.
As our primary goal is to improve health with the help of physical activity, the first rule of “exercise prescription” should simply be: STAND UP.