Total Body Balance

Is The Biggest Loser a turn-off to getting fit?

Most of you are probably familiar with the TV show ‘The Biggest Loser’ and how it changes the lives of overweight men and women at wits end with their weight. The show gives us a look into how these individuals, with the help of renowned personal trainers, train day to day to lose the weight and get their lives back on track. It sounds inspirational and should make you want to get up off the couch and transform your own life, but does it really get you motivated?

A recent study at the University of Alberta in Canada, consisted of 138 university students who were split into two groups. Each group watched a seven minute clip of contestants exercising from shows early in any given season of The Biggest Loser, when the competitors were at their heaviest. The second group watched a segment from reality singing competition American Idol.

Immediately after viewing the clips, participants from both groups were asked to write down their thoughts and complete a computer-based questionnaire that required an instant response after each question.

The study found that people who watched The Biggest Loser had worse attitudes about physical activity than those who watched American idol, and the results were consistent no matter what the participant’s level of activity was. Some comments included “I hope I never get fat because I never want to work that hard” and “Three hours of working out is terrifying. I need to keep fit so I don’t have to work that hard”. So it begs the question, do shows like The Biggest Loser, which are meant to be motivational and get people off the couch, really work?

The National Activity Guidelines state that for the average adult, 30 minutes of moderate-vigorous intensity exercise on five, if not all days of the week, is all that’s needed to maintain fitness and promote healthy living. Regular vigorous exercise each week, combined with a balanced diet, can also help promote weight loss. This can be achieved quite easily as you can accumulate your exercise throughout the day. Break your exercise up into three lots of ten minutes; and take the stairs or park five minutes away from work and walk.

So if you want to lose a few extra kilos or just maintain your health, don’t look towards The Biggest Loser for motivation. Participate in regular exercise at moderate-vigorous intensity along with a balanced diet and you’ll likely notice a difference in your overall health and wellbeing in no time.

By Physiotherapist Bryce Hayes

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