Sunday, August 1, 2010

Conflicting Information

It seems that the more I study about fitness and nutrition, the more confused I get. Goethe stated this more eloquently when he wrote "We know accurately only when we know little; with knowledge, doubt increases." Every other month you can find a new study that disproves something that you had previously believed. Then, down the road the experts change their position back again. I can't blame people for being confused when it comes to health. This frustrates me because truth should not fluctuate like the stock market.

Maybe you've heard some of the controversy about the following topics: stretching, slow repetitions, protein consumption, proper macronutrient percentages in your diet, herbs, supplements, the benefits or dangers of red wine, alcohol, or aspirin, etc. Some studies show something is beneficial while others disprove it. Time Magazine even came out with an article last year trying to prove that exercise can be bad for you! There seem to be differing opinions on almost any topic when it comes to your health.

Years ago I was reading the August 2001 issue of Muscle and Fitness Magazine. It was a special issue which featured advice from all 10 of the Mr. Olympia champions who had achieved that honor at that time. I fully expected each competitor to have his training preferences, but I was surprised when I saw how much they contradicted each other with their advice and training recommendations. These guys should be the ultimate authorities on bodybuilding, since they had each reached the pinnacle of success in their industry, but they disagree on many things. So if the pros and experts can't even agree on their training and workout advice, how can we?

One problem with this topic is that some people believe anything they read or hear. If there is an infomercial with a guy in a white lab coat promoting an exercise device or supplement, people will assume whatever he says is legitimate. There is a ton of inaccurate or completely deceptive advertising on TV, radio, fitness magazines, and the Internet. Even legitimate scientific experiments and studies can contradict each other and be manipulated by those reporting them if they don't disclose all the variables associated with the study. It is important to get all the facts when you hear about the findings of a new study. It is easy to jump to conclusions without all the background details that are needed to make an informed decision.

Don't be surprised the next time you hear about a new study that disproves something you have always believed or goes against the advice of another expert. I encourage you to be a fact finder and a truth seeker. You may have to sift through a lot of fluff to find the truth, but it is worth it. Once you are able to determine what is and is not accurate, it is very liberating. I guess that's why they say the truth will set you free.


Clint @ Crude Fitness said...

This is so true - fitness preachers are often using data from 1994 or a test group of 100 people to help 'define' their study as FACT.

You really need to practice things in the real-world to find out if it works for you or not.

Don't rely on someones thesis to decide this for you :)

Dave-Fitness Training Tips said...

The majority of studies in the fitness industry are filled with so many biases. You really just have to use these studies as a general guide and see what works best for your body.

Tom said...

Sorry about the picture. A couple days after posting this entry, it disappeared. If I try to remove it or put a new one it, it destroys this post and makes it all one paragraph. Trust me, it was a good picture!