Diet + exercise = good health


The new year inevitably brings promises of exercise and dieting for many Canadians. For most, those resolutions are quickly broken.

But would that success rate change if the average citizen realized their livelihood depends on it?

According to Health Canada, at least 63 per cent are not active enough to achieve the health benefits they need from physical activity. Simple changes in the lifestyle of the average Canadian could mean the difference between life and death, according to Stuart Phillips, an exercise physiologist and assistant professor in the Department of Kinesiology.

“A lack of exercise is as big a risk for cardiovascular problems as smoking or a poor diet,” says Phillips. “People just don't realize the importance of being active.”

Phillips and colleague Marty Gibala, also a kinesiology professor, will discuss how dietary habits and exercise affect our health as a part of the Albert Lager Lecture Series, sponsored by the McMaster Alumni Association, tonight (Jan. 27) at 7 p.m.

“There's a lot of misinformation floating around out there,” says Phillips. “There's a lot better job being done in promoting quick-fixes, like fat burners, anti-fat pills and diets promising miracle results. I always say that the Canadian Food Guide, as a book, wouldn't sell as well as a slick, well-packaged one with flashy promises that end up being lies.”

Phillips admits that pleas from the health care community to exercise more and eat right often seem monotonous and uninventive. He points out their message isn't as glamorous as the “glitzy” ads for unhealthy, high-fat foods. He isn't quite sure how to accentuate the need for lifestyle changes however.

“Our goal, from a kinesiology perspective, is to get everyone to exercise for as long and as often as possible,” he says. “Diet and fat burning pills don't work in the long run.

“Our biggest failing is that the message we present is pretty boring. I don't know what else we could do. We'd have to be Jerry Seinfeld or something to make it flashier.”