Why Doesn't Exercise Always Work? Common Sense Advice Rheo Blair Would Endorse

Exercise does not effect everyone in the same way. As with Biochemical Individuality in nutrition, so in exercise. Our needs are different and unique.

Too much exercise can be as bad or worse than too little or none at all.

We will get to the advice mentioned in the post title in just a moment. But first, Rheo Blair's views on exercise were well known: he was a skeptic based on his own personal experience and that of others. As a result, he believed and taught that too many people exercised too much and got too little in the way of results. Both then and now one finds popular the notion that exercise is some kind of panacea for whatever ails you. And along with this seems to go the idea "the more, the better".

Certainly, the human body was made to move and if you don't use it you will lose it. Couch potatoes take note: exercise IS important. The problem exists in the "more is better" attitude which is so pervasive. It's better to run 6 miles than 4; working out for 2 hours is twice as good as working out for just 1 hour, etc. In fact the thought of having to commit to all that laborious exercise is one thing that discourages some couch potatoes from getting started.
More is not always better and in some cases can be hazardous. A key example: those with adrenal fatigue (and there are many many people today with adrenal fatigue) should be very careful about how much they exercise; what they really need is sleep and a LOT of it. Some light exercise, perhaps; but extra sleep in this case is critical.

Rheo felt that, overall, most people probably exercise too much, sleep too little, and eat a nutrient depleted diet. Now I want to be clear that he was not anti-exercise; he was
anti-too much exercise. He found that excessive exercise can be counter-productive because of the negative effect it can have the functioning of the endocrine system; on the production and balance of hormones so critical to health and physique. You want to work with your endocrine system, not against it. The mention of adrenal fatigue mentioned above comes into play here. I wrote a bit more about his thinking on the subject of exercise here and I will have more to say on this in the future. His own personal experience with exercise early in life was less gratifying than he expected. I'll let him speak for himself:

"I was not a boy wonder when it came to physical development. Quite the opposite….as a youth, I suffered poor health. And like so many other sick people I read the various health magazines for a way out of my troubles. After reading them for some time I came away with the impression that all you had to do was buy a barbell, exercise, and soon you were a "Mr. America." I imagine I was quite impressionable at the time for one look at the colossal physiques in those wonderful magazines made my mind conjure up the grandest dreams about myself. I could almost see the muscles rippling. And like many other sick people, I was inspired by those pictures in the magazines. I saved my money until I had enough to buy one of those magic barbell sets which was to change me into a “Mr. America.”

I had sent for the “works”, and for several weeks after it arrived, I was the happiest guy in town. Month after month, I followed the course instructions to the letter. After a year of this, with no results, I began to have my doubts about the magic powers of those barbells. But determination kept me at it…for three long huffing, puffing years. After three years of knocking myself out I had gained only six pounds and was so weak I was unable to do more than ten reps with 35 pounds in the two-arm curl. At the end of those three years, it was evident that something was wrong with the field of bodybuilding…or something was wrong with me! Perhaps I was the exception to the rule…a type of person who just couldn’t be improved. Other body builders and physical instructors told me there were thousands of others who were getting nowhere fast with their training..."

Rheo wrote these words in the early 1950's about his futile experience with exercise a decade earlier. Compare Rheo's words with what comes today from credentialed exercise scientist Craig Harper:

"Why do some of us invest so much time and energy into our exercise program for so little in the way of results. Yep it’s true; some of us spend a lot of time achieving not too much. Heaps of sweat, commitment and even dollars, for a less than desirable return.
I’m constantly getting letters, emails and phone calls from frustrated exercisers, so I figure it is time to take a look at why time spent exercising doesn’t always equate to desirable results."
Sound familiar? The sentiments expressed are strikingly similar to those expressed by Rheo. Obviously Rheo was on to something about exercising and not getting results. He was hardly alone in his doubts and skepticism on the utility of exercise, especially excessive exercise. Rheo went on to discover the benefits of nutrition and an intelligently designed and non-excessive exercise program for ones health and physique. And in both cases he understood we are all different; one size does not fit all. We each have unique nutritional needs. Likewise we all have different exercise needs and tolerance levels. Most people payed little attention. Even in his gym in Chicago, most of his members disreguarded his exercise advice. and went about their way exercising for too long and using weights that were too heavy. (Bear in mind these ordinary gym members were not under his personal care as the before and afters were; a critical distinction.) As exercise enthusiasts typically do, they exercised to excess without achieving the desired results.

If you are inclined to over-exercise or find you are getting nowhere with your current regimen, check out the exercise suggestions put forth by Craig Harper on Lifehack.org. Mr. Harper helps us understand, among other things, that we are all individuals and that one size does not fit all. A workout routine that works for me may not be best for you. He also cautions against over-training. Were he with us today, Rheo would applaud these well reasoned, common sense suggestions.
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Copyright © 2008 Charles Welling
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Information found on Rheo H. Blair: The Book is meant for educational and informational purposes only, and to motivate you to make your own health care and dietary decisions based upon your own research and in partnership with your health care provider. It should not be relied upon to determine dietary changes, a medical diagnosis or courses of treatment.