Exercise No. 19

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That tri-weekly commitment to aerobics class?


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Almost worthless, as far as fitting into your bikini is concerned. The Mayo Clinic , a not-for-profit medical research establishment in the US, reports that, in general, studies "have demonstrated no or modest weight loss with exercise alone" and that "an exercise regimen… is unlikely to result in short-term weight loss beyond what is achieved with dietary change. It sounds faintly heretical, if not downright facetious. And it's a scientific discovery that most health professionals are, naturally, keen to downplay. After all, exercise is still good for us.

It's just that, in defiance of decades of New Year resolutions, it's unlikely to make us slim. Most of us have a grasp of the rudiments of weight gain and loss: Unfortunately, the maths isn't in our favour.

Dangers of exercise for women

To burn off an extra calories is typically an extra two hours of cycling. And that's about two doughnuts. From a practical perspective, then, exercise is never going to be an effective way of slimming, unless you have the training schedule — and the willpower — of an Olympic athlete. But Gately sums it up: There's another, more insidious, problem with pinning all your hopes for a holiday bod on exercise.

In what has become a defining experiment at the University of Louisiana, led by Dr Timothy Church, hundreds of overweight women were put on exercise regimes for a six-month period. Some worked out for 72 minutes each week, some for minutes, and some for A fourth group kept to their normal daily routine with no additional exercise. Against all the laws of natural justice, at the end of the study , there was no significant difference in weight loss between those who had exercised — some of them for several days a week — and those who hadn't.

Church doesn't record whether he told the women who he'd had training for three and half hours a week, or whether he was wearing protective clothing when he did. Some of the women even gained weight.

Exercise for Women in the early 19th Century

Church identified the problem and called it "compensation": The post-workout pastry to celebrate a job well done — or even a few pieces of fruit to satisfy their stimulated appetites — undid their good work. In some cases, they were less physically active in their daily life as well. His findings are backed up by a paper on childhood obesity published in by Boston academics Steven Gortmaker and Kendrin Sonneville. In an month study investigating what they call "the energy gap" — the daily imbalance between energy intake and expenditure — the pair showed that when the children in their experiment exercised, they ended up eating more than the calories they had just burned, sometimes 10 or 20 times as many.

In the s, the celebrated French-American nutritionist Jean Mayer was the first to introduce a link between exercise and weight reduction. Until then, the notion that physical activity might help you lose weight was actually rather unfashionable in the scientific community — in the s, a leading specialist had persuasively argued that it was more effective to keep patients on bed rest.

Over the course of his career, Mayer's pioneering studies — on rats, babies and schoolgirls — demonstrated that the less active someone was, the more likely they were to be fat. No absurdity is greater than that which associates female beauty with great delicacy of body and debility of constitution. Exercise only can fully unfold the muscular system in both sexes: The safest rule for exercising young girls is to leave the quantity of exercise to their own feelings of fatigue; and this can only be effected by allowing them to run and enjoy the same exercise as young boys, within a limited space.

They must, however, be encouraged and even urged to motion; for the nature of female education, from the earliest periods of life, and the social habits of the sex, even in girlhood, incline many girls, in the garden and the playground, rather to sit, conversing in groups, or to saunter, leaning on one another, than to take active exercise.

The beneficial effects of regular exercise in young girls are the same as those [for young boys]; but in young girls it is more essential, from the sedentary habits of life which are to follow, in an afterperiod of life; and also to counteract that sluggish state of the bowels which is so common in female habits, and so much at variance with health. If the exercise be taken within a limited space, the kind of it should be frequently changed, to encourage the continuance of it, by renewing the stimulus of exertion; and it should also be of that description which calls into action every muscle of the body.

This, however, cannot be accomplished if the body be cased in stays; for, though the limbs and arms are free, yet the muscles of the back and loins are circumscribed in their action, and a state of debility in these parts is thereby induced; for it is an undeniable truth that a muscle which is not used soon loses its power. Such a degree of exertion, indeed, is not likely to occur from almost any kind of exercise in the middle and higher ranks of life; but nothing is more common than to see young women, under thirty years of age, with the look of sixty, from having been over-worked as servants.

Nearly the same exercises, with the exception of wrestling, cricket, quoits , and those sports properly termed athletic, which are proper for boys, may be recommended for young girls.

Trundling a hoop, battledore , trapball , and every game which can exercise both the legs and arms, and, at the same time, the muscles of the body, should be encouraged. For girls past the age of 12, however, such exercises were generally not advised. Instead, the following types of exercise were recommended, often with caveats. Walking is the best exercise for men and women.

This should be practised every day in the year, unless the inclemency of the weather absolutely forbids. The English are the healthiest people in the world, and this arises in part from their systematic exercise. Even the most delicate and high-bred ladies there take an airing almost every day, and usually walk several miles. They do not mind a drizzle or a shower. How different it is in this country [the United States]! It is here considered a matter of delicacy for a woman to keep herself immured at home, and she pays for it in a slender constitution, a pallid cheek, the early decay of her teeth, and the premature loss of all the beauty which health can bestow.

Dancing is the most favorite exercise of young women; and when properly taught, is healthful, and confers gracefulness of gait, resulting from the disciplined management of the whole body. In general, however, the movements are confined in the feet and legs, whilst the action of the other parts of the frame is wholly neglected. There is a wish also to imitate professional dancers in young females; but the steps are, in general, too rapid to be altogether safe for the tender frame of women who are not regularly trained to the art: Professional dancers have generally flat feet, and walk as if they were lame.

Benefits of exercise for women

Independent, however, of the mode of dancing, it is an exercise the daily employment of which greatly benefits young females at that period of life when most of their other occupations are of a sedentary nature; but as they are universally fond of it, they are likely to carry it to excess, which should never be permitted; particularly when the more rapid and violent dances, Scotch reels, for instance, are attempted. Exertion such as these dances require, if long continued, are extremely injurious to girls of a delicate frame and with a narrow chest.

Exercise for Women in the early 19th Century | Shannon Selin

Dancing is also injurious whilst the body is yet weak in convalescence from acute diseases. When too much exercised, it likewise is apt to produce ganglions on the ankle joints of delicate girls, as wind galls are produced on the legs of young horses, who are too soon or too much worked.

Pitman shorthand book dictations

Upon the whole, nevertheless, dancing is the exercise best adapted for young women; and one, when discreetly employed, is highly conducive to health. Riding is a most salutary exercise for young women, from its engaging many of the muscles of the body, as well as those of the arms and thighs; and from the succession of changes of respirable air, which the rapid progression of the body through an extensive space, in a short time, causes to be conveyed to the lungs. But the position which women are obliged to maintain on horseback is not favorable to very young girls; and, if the exercise be often carried to fatigue, nothing is more likely to produce deformity, from diseased curvature of the spine, than the placing of a young girl too soon on horseback.

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Why exercise won't make you thin

Meeting a friend for coffee? Take a flask and go for a walk instead. Green space is great for your body and mind. Plan ahead and factor in a walking route. Do you really need the car? Grab a rucksack and get on your bike or walk to the shops. Take a swim or go for a run. Walk your children to school. If you live a drive away, park up 10 minutes away from school.

From neurons to hormones: Why your body needs a workout.

It will benefit you and your children. Use your lunch break to get moving. Walk for 30 minutes at lunch time, every day. Stand up or fidget.