Whenever I write about health care I often focus on the politics and policy of health care, addressing questions like what can government and private sector institutions do to most effectively improve health care delivery, access, and quality in our country at the lowest cost, what should they do, what shouldn’t they do, and what are the consequences of those actions? While the role of public and private sector institutions is frequently discussed and debated, rarely do we put the focus on what the individual person can do.
In a country where a large segment of the population is overweight or obese, one of the best ways to drive down long-term health care costs is what I call individual preventative care: exercising, eating healthy, and cutting down on bad habits like smoking and drinking. That’s not to say we should never indulge from time to time. After all, I’m enjoying a Chipotle burrito bowl and a Stella Artois as I write this. But for as much as we like to talk about what institutions can do for health care, what they can’t do is regulate how many calories you consume, how many miles you run, or how many sit-ups you do. Only you can regulate that.
In this country, there is a high demand for getting in shape, and of course businesses have cashed in on that demand. But there are certain paradoxes rooted in our American culture that have inhibited us from seeing the results we’d like. The first is we want results, but we don’t want to do the work required to achieve said results. We will do just about anything and everything imaginable and pay any amount of money, just so long as we don’t actually have to do old fashioned diet and exercise. This is why toning apparel, vibrating belts, weight loss pills, and casual liposuction is a thing. But when we actually do attempt exercise, we like to do it together and make it part of our culture. We are a culture that relishes in trends and loves peer pressure. We like to be told what to do by people we think are cool. This is why workout fads are a thing and celebrity endorsements are common. As people, we also have a very short attention span, both in the way we process information and news, and in our commitment to goals. This is why workout fads often have short life spans.
The latest workout fad is the Insanity Workout, a 60-day intense home workout designed to get you in shape fast brought to you by the makers of P90X. Don’t get me wrong, I think workout fads are a net positive for our society. Anything that motivates people to exercise and get healthier is generally a good thing. But as Orthopedic surgeon Derek Ochiai points out, workouts like Insanity and P90X are designed for people already in relatively good shape trying to get in better shape. He said he has seen a number of patients who have injured themselves from attempting workouts like these that are not really designed for them. Insanity and P90X are perfect for some people, but not for everyone.
I think a lot of folks attempt Insanity or P90X as a goal, they complete the program and get in great shape after 60 or 90 days, but then stop regularly working out with anything close to that intensity from there. Insanity is 60 days, P90X is 90 days, but staying in shape is a lifetime commitment.