Have you ever heard people disagreeing over the benefits of a particular form of exercise? Take golf, for example. A husband might tell his wife that he plays golf three times a week because it is good exercise. She counters by saying there isn’t much exercise in riding around in an electric golf cart. Their disagreement addresses one of the most fundamental principles of exercise: expended energy.
Making exercise productive is achieved by expending energy. The amount of energy expended in relation to the work being done determines how productive exercise is. One of the easiest ways to observe it is to pay attention to how much you sweat. Increased perspiration usually equates to more expended energy doing the same amount of work.
Example: Two People Walking
NewScientist recently published a post that provides a simple enough explanation. It was facilitated by a question regarding a husband and wife walking together: does the wife get more exercise because she has to take more steps to keep up? The given answer was quite informative.
The wife has to take more steps to cover the same distance as her husband. One assumes she does more work. But that might not be the case. Given that she weighs less, it could be that she is expending less energy despite taking more steps. She might actually be doing less work depending on her weight in relation to her height.
There was no way to answer this man’s question with hard numbers. But it is clear from the answer that the only way to determine if the husband and wife are getting equal amounts of exercise is to ascertain how much energy they are expending to walk the same distance. If both are required to expend the same amount of energy, the productivity of their exercise should be roughly the same.
High-Energy vs. Low Impact
A misunderstanding of expended energy often leads to a secondary misunderstanding of the terms ‘high-energy’ and ‘low impact’. Instructors at Salt Lake City’s Mcycle indoor cycling studio run into this all the time. The studio advertises its spinning classes as high-energy and low impact.
The high-energy aspect relates to how much effort cyclists put into their rides. Instructors have them constantly moving their legs. They have them standing and sitting at different times. They even have the cyclists working their upper bodies and arms through additional exercises they do while riding. The whole thing is high-energy because it requires quite a bit of energy to keep up.
On the other hand, low impact has nothing to do with energy expended. The term is used to describe how rough a form of exercise is in terms of shock energy. Consider running. It is classified as high impact due to the amount of shock energy experienced with every step taken. Your feet constantly making impact with the ground is a big deal.
Indoor cycling is low impact because of the lack of shock energy. Your feet are not making impact with the ground as you pedal. No part of your body is impacting any another surface. Still, indoor cycling requires you expend enough energy to make you sweat.
A More Productive Golf Game
We can close this post by going back to the introduction. There is a way to make golf a very productive sport in terms of exercise. How do you do it? By forgoing the electric cart and walking the course. Every 18 holes represents several miles walked. In the meantime, you are swinging clubs and bending over to retrieve balls. The energy expended translates into productive exercise.