Surgeon General: Dance for Fun

From a recent New York Times interview with the US Surgeon General, Dr Regina Benjamin:

My thought is that people should be healthy and be fit at whatever size they are.
[...]
I want exercise to be fun; don’t want it to be work. I don’t want it to be so routine that you’re bored with it. We used to jump rope a lot and double Dutch and went to a disco to have fun and enjoy ourselves. We didn’t go to the disco because somebody said, Go dance for 30 minutes. [...] I want us to get back to doing things because they’re fun.

She also gave up some of her MacArthur Award payments to take the job as Surgeon General.

11 thoughts on “Surgeon General: Dance for Fun

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Surgeon General: Dance for Fun | Living ~400lbs -- Topsy.com

  2. I’ve always been heavy. When in my thirties, I came upon the idea that if I exercised more I would lose weight so when I got off work as a CNA, I would come home, put on a tape and dance till I felt just worn out, about half an hour. I losr almost 40 pounds doing that. I only wish I could do that now. I love to dance but have arthritis in my spine and all over. That was the easiest way I ever tried to lose weight. Fun! My daughters and their boyfriends would join in too!

  3. The thing that infuriates me is the assumption that performing one physical activity for a certain purpose is “exercise”, but doing the same exact thing with a different purpose isn’t.

    For example, everyone I’ve ever met would consider walking around your neighborhood for thirty minutes to an hour to be “healthy exercise”, but almost nobody considers going to the zoo for five or six hours (most of which you’ll spend walking) to be the same.

    Granted, not everyone goes to zoos as often as my husband and I do (we usually end up at one of the three zoos within a couple hour drive of our house on at least a weekly basis, sometimes in the spring when there are babies popping up everywhere we might end up at all three in the same week just because they ALL have a new baby or babies we want to see), but really thats not the point. You could insert something like window shopping (another activity we do a lot) for a couple hours or just things like walking around the house for a few hours doing laundry, dishes, cleaning up, and whatever other household crap you need to get done.

    It’s ALL walking, yet only the “go out for a walk around the block for 30-40 minutes 3-4 times a week” kind is considered exercise?

    Well, and it also enrages me how no matter how much “real” exercise a fat person engages in, it will almost always be assumed we are lying if we mention it. That is pretty rage inducing too.

    • everyone I’ve ever met would consider walking around your neighborhood for thirty minutes to an hour to be “healthy exercise”, but almost nobody considers going to the zoo for five or six hours (most of which you’ll spend walking) to be the same.

      This is especially interesting when you realize that researchers often separate walking or other activity “on the job” from “leisure time activity”. Spending your leisure time on exercise – like walking or gardening – is supposed to be good for you, but walking or gardening because it’s your job isn’t supposed to be as good for you, because it’s not as stress reducing or whatnot.

      What’s frustrating is that it’s not clear how much is science and how much is people imposing things like the current work ethic on “exercise”.

      Well, and it also enrages me how no matter how much “real” exercise a fat person engages in, it will almost always be assumed we are lying if we mention it. That is pretty rage inducing too.

      That just shows you’re paying attention ;)

  4. All walking, including doing housework, window shopping and going to the zoo, is exercise. I also think the fact that many exercise studies specifically exclude physical activity that’s part of a commute to and from work or part of a person’s workday are very badly designed; VERY classist, and also biased against people who like to incorporate activity into their everyday lives rather than going to the gym.

    However, I’m going to play devil advocate a little. It’s true that when you’re walking for a certain amount of time or a certain distance and pushing your pace, that it’s going to do more for your heart than just strolling and doing stop-and-go chores or browsing/shopping/looking at animals. When I was using my commute as exercise, I made a point of pushing my pace and avoiding traffic lights for that reason. For cardiovascular fitness, ideally you would maintain an accelerated heartrate for at least ten or fifteen minutes.

    However, the heavier you are, the easier it is to get your heart rate up. Stop-an-go walking may be effective cardio for you.

  5. I have a pedometer that I keep clipped to me every day. In a normal day, if I don’t push myself to go out and take a long walk, I would do about 3,000 steps – the average a sedentary person does. But over Christmas I went to London, partly so I could take advantage of the post-Christmas sales. Racing around a big city on foot and dodging in and out of shops gave me a walking average of between 18,000 – 25,000 steps a day. To put that in context: a male Amish farmer walks 18,000 steps a day.

    The first two days, I was wrecked from doing so much exercise. After four days, I was a powerhouse! But then, most people who rapidly walked ten miles a day would be.

    Take it from me, shopping is wonderful exercise. I wouldn’t get that much movement in a gym class.

  6. For anyone at any size, but especially us fat folk, dancing and any other high speed exercise can wreak havoc on knee and hip joints. My wife used to dance fanatically and recently tried to take up a dance fitness routine for fun. She had to stop because of knee and hip joint pain. My father used to run fanatically and a few years ago he tried to take up jogging again. He also had to stop because of knee pain. I tried to take up a calisthenics routine. I started slowly, but it didn’t matter, after just two very mild workouts my right knee hurt a lot.

    I don’t mean to discourage anyone. If you can exercise at a fast pace without pain, that’s wonderful and I wish you success and fun.

    All of my own success at exercise without injury has been with strength training using a pretty slow repetition speed. I include full range squats to strengthen my leg muscles, and I’ve never gotten any knee joint pain from that.

      • I should not have written that my wife took up a dance fitness routine for fun. She simply took up dancing again for fun. She loves swing dancing and gleefully spends four hours on the floor at a local dance place. But then she limps for the next few days and goes out of her way to avoid trips up and down the stairs.

  7. My husband and I took our first real vacation as a couple two years ago, we went to St. George Island Florida and rented a house on the beach for a week. I literally spent three hours a day just walking on the beach with our dog – one walk at sunrise, one in the early afternoon and one before sunset. I was so shocked when I came back home and found I’d lost a few pounds even though I had been eating a lot more – bacon and eggs for breakfast, pizza for dinner, food food whatever we felt like eating. Then I realized I was spending THREE HOURS just walking with my dog and not thinking about exercise, but thinking about how much I love the ocean and the sand under my feet and the fresh air and sunshine.

    If I could only afford a beach house and not have to work for a living I’m sure I could manage to be a little thinner with little effort on my part. ;o)

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