Wednesday, June 11, 2014

"Stop Saying Wheee!"

I do not know why but for someone who is very good at group activities and following rules, I've always felt really uncomfortable at enforced "enjoyment events." Summer camp sing-a-longs, any solstice drum circle and especially group exercise classes where they shout at you to enjoy yourself. They creep me all out. 

Look, I know spin classes and laughing yoga work for many people, but I just don't like them. I don't need to be told when to say "Wheee!"

(This blog entry's title actually comes from a scene from here. It's very apt to this topic).

"But, Mr. Streamlined Ska Librarian," you say, "If I enjoy it, won't I do it more?" Why, yes, small handful of blog readers, you probably will. I think it's sort of obvious that one tends to do any activity more often if one enjoys it. 

Maybe I'd have this same expression during my cardio if I had those fabulous heels to work out in. Wheee, indeed.

However, there might be another reason why enjoyable exercise works towards weight loss or weight maintenance. A recent study showed that subjects who were told they were doing a physical activity "for fun" as opposed to "for exercise", ate less afterwards. There was less of a reward aspect to their physical activity. ("I ran 60 minutes on the treadmill, so I can have 2 donuts!")

And I do find that fascinating. Especially when another recent study shows that we consistently misunderstand what is meant by "moderate exercise." And we're only misunderstanding it in one direction.

So at least if we're not getting enough vigorous exercise, we're probably eating less to compensate if we enjoy that exercise.

I do enjoy running, even if it means having to get through those initial 10 minutes of my brain saying, "You can stop now!" Once I get going, I'm very happy. I also enjoy boxing very much and yes, even heavy weight lifting.

But it doesn't mean I don't get bored with the routines and I rarely consider weight lifting to be "just for fun." However, I still like it more than many group exercise instruction. I feel less uncomfortable, which makes it more enjoyable. But I also know that it's work. I'm doing this for a reason. And being Streamlined does make me happier and more comfortable with myself. 

And sometimes you just need to be comfortable and satisfied to get towards happiness. Yet another study shows the relationship between obesity and subjective well-being. Not surprisingly, there seems to be a inverse relationship, and women suffer from low satisfaction due to obesity far more than men. But they also mention one interesting hypothesis from their results:

"Our findings demonstrate that where obesity is more prevalent, the difference in life satisfaction between the obese and nonobese is smaller for women and almost nonexistent for men. The same relationship is likely to exist over time: the emotional cost and advantage of obesity and nonobesity, respectively, may be decreasing as the prevalence of obesity increases. If future research finds evidence for this trend over time, it would offer additional insight into the causes of the exponential growth in obesity over the past 30 years: a cyclical process in which the emotional cost of obesity declines, resulting in greater prevalence, resulting in fewer emotional costs."

In other words, if we all get fat, we'll have less options to which to compare! Yay, now we can make fun of you for being bald!

But, even if we're all moving towards an inevitable obese society, it still doesn't mean you can't have fun being active in some way. And if that makes life better, then it's probably something we should all do in some way. 

Just don't say Wheee. Nobody says wheee. Nobody.


Canning, Karissa L., Ruth E. Brown, Veronica K. Jamnik, Art Salmon, Chris I. Ardern, and Jennifer L. Kuk. “Individuals Underestimate Moderate and Vigorous Intensity Physical Activity.” PLoS ONE 9, no. 5 (May 16, 2014): e97927. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0097927.

Wadsworth, Tim, and Philip M. Pendergast. “Obesity (Sometimes) Matters The Importance of Context in the Relationship between Obesity and Life Satisfaction.” Journal of Health and Social Behavior 55, no. 2 (June 1, 2014): 196–214. doi:10.1177/0022146514533347.

Werle, Carolina O. C., Brian Wansink, and Collin R. Payne. “Is It Fun or Exercise? The Framing of Physical Activity Biases Subsequent Snacking.” Marketing Letters, May 15, 2014, 1–12. doi:10.1007/s11002-014-9301-6.

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