Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Countering Bad Advice About Exercise

by Gordo Byrn

The extreme exercise debate has popped up again with a Danish study noting that strenuous exercisers might not have a mortality rate statistically different than the sedentary people. I think the statistics of their argument are weak but the headline certainly got my attention.

The Danish study consisted of 1,000 healthy individuals. Of the 1,000, 36 were classified as “strenuous” joggers.

What did it take to get into the strenuous jogging group?

People who ran faster than 7 mph for more than four hours a week; or who ran faster than 7 mph for more than 2.5 hours a week with a frequency of more than three times a week.

That made me smile because, when training for an Ironman, my Sunday morning workout would roll up enough distance to drop me into the group.

Then I remember that my Sunday run was...
...after training 6-8 hours on Saturday
...after training 15-20 hours during the week.

Not sure their study even has a category for people like me!

Even with my current “moderate” protocol, I remain a 1 in 10,000 exerciser.

We can debate the implications of the research for ourselves, but the research is clear for our loved ones, who are not living at the edge.

  1. There is no minimum effective dose.

  2. There is no minimum effective intensity.

  3. There are large health benefits from small amounts of exercise.

  4. Diminishing marginal benefits start rapidly -- in my case, ironically, shortly after I’ve warmed up!

Don’t be distracted by debate at the fringes, teach your friends and family that a little goes a long way.

We are highly visible role models for exercise.



PS - My default response when asked about exercise is to share Dr. Mike Evans’ “23.5 hours” video:


Gordo is the founder of Endurance Corner. You can find his personal blog at coachgordo.wordpress.com.

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