When it comes to fitness, size doesn't matter.

Posted on Sunday, July 14th, 2013

Written by Lindzie O'Reilly

For quite some time, research has told us that our physical activity and food habits determine our health, not the number on the scale. In spite of this, the media continues to place an intense and unrealistic focus on weight and physical appearance. That focus tends to become even stronger during certain times of the year. In January, we are bombarded with ads encouraging us to set weight loss goals as New Year’s resolutions. Come summer, we are told that we will not look good in that bathing suit unless we lose weight.

Because I am so accustomed to seeing messages that encourage individuals to feel that they are not good enough, thin enough or attractive enough, I found a recent article published at Canada.com titled "When it comes to fitness, size doesn't matter" to be a breath of fresh air. This article encourages readers to change their attitude towards fitness and to focus on how it makes them feel rather than weight loss or physical appearance.

Adults are encouraged to accumulate 150 minutes of moderate or vigorous physical activity per week. This could happen at a gym or fitness class, or it could mean going for a walk or a bike ride with friends or family. The best activity for you is an activity that you enjoy. This gives you the best chance of continuing to incorporate it into your lifestyle long term. I find that students who believe that physical activity must be structured and intense or students who gauge their level of fitness based on the number on the scale are the most likely to become discouraged and to give up on an activity routine.

Regular physical activity that we engage in for the purpose of enjoyment, rather than for the purpose of calorie burning, can improve energy levels and mood and can decrease stress. Research has shown that individuals who lead an active lifestyle, regardless of their weight, live longer than those who are inactive. On the other hand, activity that is focused solely on weight loss or physical appearance can actually have a negative impact on physical and mental health for some students as it may result in negative body image and unhealthy habits such as exercising too much or restricting food intake.

Rather than setting a weight loss or appearance-related goal this summer, try focusing on moving your body in a way that is fun for you.

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