Is CrossFit Really “Killing Us”? – A Response

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by TJ Murphy

Is CrossFit Really "Killing Us"? - A Response
Like you, I’ve been told more than once to not “Drink the Kool-Aid” when it comes to CrossFit. Honestly, I’d be happy to speak about CrossFit only when asked directly, and otherwise shut up about it.

But then another news story depicting CrossFit as some eerily destructive cult— usually hinting at satanic imagery of dank basements equipped with medieval torture machinery, the haunting sounds of human pain accompanied by green vomit and flowing blood — seeps into view. Like the story in the December issue of Outside Magazine, one tethered to the eye-catching blurb on the cover: IS CROSSFIT DESTROYING THE WORLD? The story starts off suggesting that there’s a global backlash against the exercise format.

But the story in Outside, in the last paragraphs anyway, makes the case that if you compared CrossFit to other sports, it’s not that big of a deal.
But the story in Outside, in the last paragraphs anyway, makes the case that if you compared CrossFit to other sports, it’s not that big of a deal. The point being that most sports have an injury risk to them. Football, of course, but even the rolling of a bowling ball is not perfectly safe.

Still, the headline IS CROSSFIT DESTROYING THE WORLD? will be enough for some to leave the book closed on their view of CrossFit. I know that I will be at a Super Bowl party this year and can predict right now that at least one person will come up to me and ask me about CrossFit, about how they’d like to join but they’re afraid it’s a sure ticket to the emergency room.

And I usually start off my answer with why I get get so annoyed when another ABC News story comes out about the risks of the “military-style exercise program” that is CrossFit.

I’ll ask, “Have you been in a Walgreens recently? Next time you are, notice that a new “Diabetes” section of the store, a display featuring insulin injectors, lancets, monitors, diabetic foot care and more.” In other words, at a time when there’s a new industry ramping up to make money off of the great surge of Americans with Type-2 diabetes.

Diabetes is becoming the norm
There’s little question that the soaring obesity and diabetes crisis in America is a significant data point within forecasts predicting that health care costs — as bad as they are — may double in the next 10 years.

And so there’s a growing industry capitalizing on the trend. In fact, while you’re at the Walgreens, go check the magazine rack for titles like Diabetes Living. In other words, there’s a ad base to support glossy lifestyle magazines dedicated to diabetics.

In the Outside Magazine story, the writer does not base his assertion that there is a “long list of injured participants” on survey data or research statistics. Rather, it’s founded on an anecdotal observations of a head of a chiropractic association.

[A]bsent any hard information to prove their point — they find an MD with a tie and a lab coat, shelves stuffed with textbooks in the background, who talks about the dangers of hard exercise.
Other stories positing that CrossFit is some sort of demolition derby have been produced by ABC News as well as being posted on websites like Medium.com. The thing that rattles you when you watch one of these TV news show clips is that — again, absent any hard information to prove their point — they find an MD with a tie and a lab coat, shelves stuffed with textbooks in the background, who talks about the dangers of hard exercise.

OK, so the next time you see one of these stories, it’s worth sending the writer or news organization a small array of what are known as actual numbers uncovered by Centers for Disease Control & Prevention studies:

1. 25.8 million children and adults have diabetes. 18.8 have been diagnosed and 7.0 million have diabetes but have not been diagnosed. Let’s all take note that it is no longer referred to as “adult-onset diabetes,” because it’s killing our kids now too.
2. Speaking of killers, consider this number: 79 million people in the United States are pre-diabetic.
3. How does the diabetes epidemic in America currently cost in dollars? $174 billion every year. $174 billion. This includes direct costs like hospitalization and treatment ($116 billion) and also ancillary costs like time lost from work and disability payments ($58 billion).

With those numbers in mind, consider what the National Institute of Health states as being the most effective way to treat diabetes, which is also the most effective way to prevent diabetes:

The most important way to treat and manage type 2 diabetes is activity and nutrition.
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