Confusing “Difficult” with “Beneficial”

This can be a sensitive topic. When I speak to people about this they sometimes get a bit defensive or upset. Maybe you won’t have that reaction at all. If so, hang in there!  

Here is the bottom line: Just because something is difficult, challenging, or hard doesn’t mean it is beneficial. Or more specifically, it may not be beneficial in a way you might want it to.

A great example is gardening. I have plenty of clients that garden for 1 or more hours. They are kneeling and digging. Some use wheelbarrows and haul mulch. Others even push rocks around. Some are hunched over and most are carrying various objects of varying weight. That’s tough! People can even be sore the next day! The question is, how beneficial is it? What is it doing for you? It’s obviously doing something, having some kind of effect.

I used the gardening example because new clients often report they don’t exercise but they garden.  They explain how it’s so difficult they don’t need to exercise. They think that it is having the same beneficial effects as a progressive resistance and cardiovascular program would have. I hear the same with walking. And… don’t get mad at me here… The same goes for Pilates, Ballet Bar, and Yoga. While each of those activities does have an effect, there is a lot they do not positively affect at all. The point here is to not confuse “difficult” with “beneficial”.  

  • Sweating doesn’t necessarily mean good for your heart.
  • Holding a pose doesn’t mean it can increase your bone density.
  • Staying on your toes for extended periods of time (super tough) has a very limited ability to increase strength.
  • Walking for a long time, even briskly, will do almost nothing for your VO2max.
  • Doing power poses doesn’t mean it will increase your power output 

Each activity can be beneficial in some way. Some can be more beneficial in some ways than others. Some can be hard and barely have a positive effect at all. It doesn’t mean they are bad or that you should stop doing them. It just means we all need to be honest with ourselves about what each activity can and cannot do and that we need to be careful not to assume that difficulty equals beneficial in all ways we might want it to.


Jason M Weitzner, MS

Certified Medical Exercise Specialist,

Certified Muscle System Specialist

Co-Owner of Symmetry Exercise Clinic in Naples, FL

1750 J&C Blvd. Suite #10, Naples, FL 34109