Monday, February 1, 2010

More Exercise is Better

Excelsior!

The San Francisco Chronicle today has the article More exercise better in long run, study finds.

"A scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Williams has put together the world's largest study on runners, and the evidence found over 20 years of research points to an important conclusion: When it comes to exercise, more is almost always better."
Public Health messages are designed to maximize the benefit for the largest number of people, and primarily those at low end of the health curve.  They are presented as minimums and simple rules, and try to not be so challenging that people will ignore them and do nothing.  Thus we have house cleaning considered exercise.
"But Williams' findings haven't exactly caught on with the mainstream public health gurus.

It's not that they disagree with Williams' findings. But doctors and public health officials worry that with half the country not meeting the current guidelines, even talking about running 50 miles a week will intimidate folks who aren't doing anything."
OK, if you're completely sedentary, set a goal of taking a 30 minute walk 3 times a week.  And then make it a brisk walk, then do it for 45 minutes, then add a cardio class at the gym...  Rather than trying to meet the minimum amount of exercise, keep pushing yourself.  What Williams shows that there isn't an amount of "enough" exercise, but that there is constant improvement in health available.  And everyone, even if you already exercise regularly and at a high level, can benefit from the same approach.

The other point brought up is that running is studied because it is easily quantifiable and a large number of people do it.
"He decided to focus on runners because they're an easy group to follow - they usually know exactly how much exercise they get, in terms of miles run, and they can gauge their fitness based on race times."
Weight lifting, kickboxing, power yoga, and many other forms of exercise will serve, but make sure the intensity level is high enough to provide a workout.  (Or do them in addition to deliberate cardio exercise.  More is better!)

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