Sus•tain•a•ble. (Adj) 1. Able to be maintained at a certain level or rate.

We are constantly reminded of “sustainability” when it comes to environmental issues, but what about exercise?

The goal of proper exercise is to trigger a response mechanism within the body that results in a stronger, leaner, and more flexible “you.” Properly directed exercise won’t necessarily put years on your life, but life back into your years..

Most popular exercise programs are far from sustainable. Recently, I was speaking with a client and he heard an orthopedic surgeon tell him,” Thanks to Cross-Fit, I am fully employed!” Check the statistics: since the emergence of a steady parade of running and exercise fads, knee and hip replacement surgery has skyrocketed.

According to the British Journal of Medicine (2007), the average runner can statistically expect to suffer two injuries per year. Up to 79% suffer an “overuse” injury within the first year, and between 20-70% of those become chronically recurring injuries

Most disconcerting about many of these are the warrior-like philosophy they espouse as reflected in names like “Insane,” “Extreme,” or “Boot Camp” which are splashed on magazine covers, internet ads, and repeated ad nauseam on late night infomercials.

Do you really think that the super sexy “fitness” models these marketers use got that way by taking the supplement or doing the exercise being promoted?

All of this promotes the subliminal message “buy this supplement or do this exercise” and you’ll look like a super sexy model yourself with ripped abs and a perfect life!

When did words like insaneextreme, and boot camp change from negative to positive? More importantly, how are such programs sustainable for the long term?

Most people follow Nike’s pragmatic philosophy “Just Do It” when it comes to exercise. The result of this attitude is that most people don’t spend much time thinking through their exercise regime before they start. “What are the dangers? “Is it worth taking those risks?” “Does this program produce the desired results?” “Are there alternatives?” The next time you think about exercise, remember, not all pain is gain. Don’t mistake activity for productivity and put your body at risk for unnecessary harm.

Exercise needs to be intense enough to trigger the body’s response mechanism. A well-designed high intensity-low force exercise program is best for triggering the body’s response mechanism while avoiding injury.

Mike Teater