On TV’s The Biggest Loser, working out is all about feeling the pain, and a recent study from the University of Alberta shows that this creates negative images amongst viewers about exercise. Lead author Tanya Berry says, “The depictions of exercise on shows like The Biggest Loser are really negative. People are screaming and crying and throwing up, and if you’re not a regular exerciser you might think this is what exercise is — that it’s this horrible experience where you have to push yourself to the extremes and the limits, which is completely wrong.”
I remember watching the show and seeing one coach yell, “You’re not getting off that treadmill until you vomit or die!”
The producers sell this game show as inspiring, but in reality, as the study shows, it puts people off exercise, giving them a toxic idea of what it’s really all about. Exercise does more to promote health and longevity than anything else. Science hasn’t developed any magic pills yet, so if you want to improve your quality of life and increase longevity, exercise is the key.
And it doesn’t have to be a painful torture session.
I exercise a lot, and I know a lot of fellow exercisers. When we workout, we’re having fun. Yes, we’re sweating and breathing heavy, and there is “pain,” but the good kind. Not the “vomit or die” kind. I’ve never puked once from exercising. The only time I ever felt intense pain was trying to break 40 minutes in a 10K race.
The Biggest Loser is all about who can lose the most weight the fastest. Such “reality TV” is about as far from reality as you can get. Exercise should be seen as something enjoyable that enhances your life; a way to be social or spend time with your family. It doesn’t have to be the best calorie burner or muscle builder, it’s just got to be something that you learn love doing.
And it needs to be integrated slowly in order to give your body time to adapt so you experience less discomfort and reduce the risk of injury. Coupled with baby steps on the dietary front, it can lead to sustainable and healthy weight loss.
That’s real-life weight loss, not the unrealistic TV weight loss this show portrays.
Are you a fan of The Biggest Loser?