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Industry leaders rail against ‘irresponsible’ TV exercise claims

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Health and fitness industry figureheads have rebuffed the sensational health claims reported on the Daily Mail website this week, following 5:2 diet advocate and author Dr Michael Mosley’s TV appearance on This Morning.

During a section trailed by the show’s hosts as “busting medical myths,” Mosley made a series of assertions about the inefficacy of gyms and exercise in helping to lose weight and increase physical fitness:

• He said that people never lose weight from exercise “in the long run” as society’s reward culture leads to them consuming extra calories as a treat after exercise.

• Branded the notion that exercise makes people feel better through the release of endorphins “a myth.”

• Claimed that only 20 per cent of people become noticeably fitter from exercise, citing an unnamed study that found the majority of people made negligible fitness gains from an exercise regime as they “didn’t have the right genes.”

• Drew on a recent study into the benefits of high intensity training for pensioners to assert that most conventional wisdom on physical activity was “wrong” and that people only need to do seconds-long bursts of high intensity exercise to improve health and physical fitness.

Mosley’s TV appearance and claims then formed the basis of a widely-shared Daily Mail article under the headline “'You'll never lose weight going to the gym and exercise DOESN'T boost your mood': Leading expert busts common fitness myths.”

Both Mosley’s comments and the Daily Mail’s subsequent reporting of them, were met with dismay from industry thought leaders. énergie Group CEO Jan Spaticchia branded them “damaging” and “outrageous,” while several figures expressed alarm at the irresponsible message being spread to the public when physical inactivity has been identified as a major contributor to premature death.

Round-up of the comments provided to Health Club Management:

ukactive CEO David Stalker

"These kinds of ill informed comments blatantly ignore the wealth of evidence supporting the positive impact physical activity has on mood and weight control. They set us back years by inaccurately skewing the accepted wisdom for thousands of consumers, giving them a reason to reject physical activity out of hand, before they even get started. That's not cool."

The Gym Group CEO John Treharne“It’s extremely troubling when so called experts make controversial statements like this which secure column inches and book sales but which will ultimately damage our already poor public health. Dr Mosley is in the enviable position of having the public’s ear and it’s a matter of regret that he isn’t using that to promote a more effective message.

“Whilst there may be some truth in his assertions it is deeply irresponsible to tell a population suffering a recognised and well reported inactivity pandemic that partaking in regular exercise does not have a positive impact on their wellbeing. Also, shame on our national tabloids for sensationalising such a counter-productive message.”

Health Club Management editorial director Liz Terry

”Twisting the facts to create sensational headlines by quoting experts out of context is wrong – it gives obese people the impression that exercise can’t help them with weight control and mood, when it’s proven beyond doubt that in both cases it can, and quite spectacularly so.

“People are dying from obesity, they’re passing on bad habits to their children, they’re leading reduced and sometimes painful lives, they’re undermining our vitality as a nation and breaking the NHS financially - this is a serious problem and journalists need to wake up and be more responsible about the way they report on these challenges or we will end up drowning in a sea of fat.”

énergie Group programme director and regular IHRSA speaker Paul Brown”What a pity such an ill-informed and baseless claim gets so much press when in fact every day there are millions of Britons enjoying the health, wellness and fitness benefits from a sensible exercise programme. Despite the obvious visible benefits of achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, the best thing about working out is not how great it makes you look, but how great it makes you feel. If the good doctor has never experienced this for himself then he clearly needs some lessons on how to exercise and in 30 minutes I am sure I could change his mind.

“More alarming is how the article shamelessly refers to exercise myths that are indeed immutable facts, proven by countless studies conducted by respected and legitimate institutions all over the world and executed with great success for over 30 years. Let’s hope not too many use his distorted views as an excuse to stay on the couch which is now recognised as a leading cause of controllable death.”

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Health and fitness industry figureheads have rebuffed the sensational health claims reported on the Daily Mail website this week, following 5:2 diet advocate and author Dr Michael Mosley’s TV appearance on This Morning.
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