In their recent book titled “Trump Revealed,” Washington Post writers Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher detailed President Donald Trump’s view of exercise.
“After Trump mostly gave up his personal athletic interests, he came to view time spent playing sports as time wasted,” they wrote. “Trump believed the human body was like a battery, with a finite amount of energy, which exercise only depleted. So, he didn’t work out.”
The book further states that when Trump learned that John O’Donnell, one of his top casino executives, was training for an Ironman triathlon, he warned, "You are going to die young because of this."
Though there is some curious logic to this thinking, evidence points to the opposite.
Kelly Devine Rickert, a Franciscan WellCare health coach and registered dietitian with the Franciscan Health system, explained that energy is derived from our eating and exercise regimens.
“Eating healthy foods, such as whole grains, fruits and vegetables and lean proteins help to increase your energy levels in many ways,” she explained. “First, eating healthy foods can help prevent your blood sugars from spiking and falling throughout the day, which leads to more consistent energy levels as the day progresses. Second, a diet high in fiber with a mix of healthy fats and protein can increase fullness in between meals so you are not as hungry and tired."
Franciscan Health follows a dietary guideline provided by the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion when advising a client on a healthy lifestyle that includes diet and exercise, according to Devine Rickert. She pointed to the office’s web page at health.gov that lists the many benefits of physical activity, including increased energy levels.
“The major research findings summarized that physical activity reduces the risk of many adverse health outcomes,” she said.
And it can be fun.
Golf, the one physical pursuit the president maintains, is a prime example. Golfers who walk an 18-hole course can cover as much as five miles and burn 2,000-plus calories.
“Walking, whether it’s a golf course or a treadmill, is a great aerobic activity,” Devine Rickert said.
Roger Vogie, director of Community Hospital Fitness Pointe, points to position statements from the American College of Sports Medicine for hard data related to the benefits of physical activity.
“The medical research that is used by the ACSM is solid data on the benefits of exercise for the body,” he said. “One of my favorites that we refer to is their recommendation on weekly amounts of physical activity.”
The ACSM recommends that most adults engage in a moderate intensity level of cardiorespiratory exercise training. They recommend 30 minutes of exercise, five times per week, for a total of 150 minutes.
According to a 2016 article by Tom Spring of the ACSM: "The human body is made to move. There are documented exercise-related benefits to practically every system in the body. The benefits to the cardiovascular system, muscle and bone may receive the most attention, but other systems also respond favorably to exercise. For example, the immune system of a trained person works better to fight both chronic and acute disease than the immune system of a sedentary person."
Though Vogie dismisses the notion that people have finite amounts of energy and finite number of heartbeats as scientifically unproven, he emphasized that a person's physical condition must be considered when determining the amount and intensity of physical activity.
“We have members who need to start at a much lower rate of time and intensity,” he explained. “But regardless of their current physical condition, we can help them design a program that will improve their endurance, energy levels and overall health.”
Vogie stressed that Fitness Pointe is equipped to deal with this as a health facility whose programs and services adhere to medical guidelines.
“Exercise is a form of medicine,” he said. “People of all ages and all levels of physical condition can benefit from physical activity.”
He pointed to the famous Farmingham Heart Study, first undertaken in 1948 by what's now known as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
“That data of their study showed how physical activity could significantly reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and stroke,” he said.