Why I’m a Bad Role Model for Exercise Science

Aug 15, 2013
Tagged with: Why I'm a Bad Role Model for Exercise Science

I’m coming off a high-intensity workout kick. Over the past year or so, I significantly cut back on my distance running and instead filled my weeks with hill sprints, jumping rope, burpees, and high-resistance weight training. I began to like that feeling of my heart beating so hard I could feel it in my throat and being so out of breath I could see spots. Aside from that borderline psychotic high off self-induced pain, I really liked that I could get a stellar workout in 20 minutes and then move on to lovelier things like food and bedtime.

Then came Monday Runday. On Monday Runday, a group of running enthusiasts meet after work at a restaurant in downtown Birmingham and complete a 2, 4, or 6 mile course (usually followed by food and drink). Being new in town and in need of friends, I decided to go “meet new people” and threw my running essentials into my NCHPAD duffel and headed into town after work. I think it’s safe to say that months later, I am now a Monday Runday regular. At first I thought my commitment was due more to the convenience of being able to combine exercise and social interaction, avoiding the “go to dinner with friends or go home and do push-ups by myself?!” dilemma (I can’t do both and be in bed by 9pm).

But I actually think I enjoy the running. I think this because tonight I am attending Tuesday Trail Run and I’m actually looking forward to it. And I’m not just going to meet people…I want to hear the sound of my feet on the ground, I want to feel my body working harmoniously to move me through space, I want to feel the breath moving in and out of my chest and oxygen powering me forward. I want to experience the mysterious combination of relaxing and hard and wonderful and terrible that is running. So my weeks are slowly being filled with longer, slower runs instead of short, high-intensity circuits.

This got me thinking about exercise prescription…more specifically my lack of it. In the words of Cartman, “Whatever, I do what I want!” Am I still meeting the ACSM recommendations for exercise despite the change in my workouts? What is my heart rate during the runs compared to the circuits? I have no idea. I don’t wear a heart monitor or take my pulse. I don’t even time my runs…yet I preach the guidelines to others and use them to guide my research!

Thus, I’m a bad role model for exercise science. I have no idea if I’m getting “enough” exercise according to the global leaders in the field. I just know that I like what I’m doing right now, it gets my heart rate up, and I look forward to it.

Do you use exercise prescriptions on a daily or weekly basis? Do you measure your heart rate, time your workouts and log them for the week or do you just get out there and get after it? Are recommendations helpful for new exercisers only? Are they more useful in research settings than practical in everyday life? If you don’t use them, how do you monitor yourself so you know you are getting “enough?”

ACSM recommendations for quantity and quality of exercise: http://www.acsm.org/about-acsm/media-room/news-releases/2011/08/01/acsm-issues-new-recommendations-on-quantity-and-quality-of-exercise

Author: Katie Henley