The popular story of how low-carb diets work goes something like this: Reducing your carbohydrate...
Let me introduce myself. My name is Mark Sisson. I’m 63 years young. I live and work in Malibu, California. In a past life I was a professional marathoner and triathlete. Now my life goal is to help 100 million people get healthy. I started this blog in 2006 to empower people to take full responsibility for their own health and enjoyment of life by investigating, discussing, and critically rethinking everything we’ve assumed to be true about health and wellness...Tell Me More
I’m mostly joking with the title. Though, considering how much I’ve written on this topic since starting this blog way back in 2006, it’s probably not too far off. And it’s not just me. Endurance training has been getting the snot beaten out of it in recent years. A variety of media outlets, TED talks, other blogs, observational research and clinical trials have all sounded the alarm about the dangers of excessive chronic cardio.
A new string of studies has found evidence of higher arterial plaque levels in the most active endurance athletes. This is becoming a trend. While endurance athletes tend to have more of the calcified kind of plaque, which is more stable and theoretically less prone to dangerous ruptures than less-calcified plaque, it remains worrying. I’ve spoken in the past about the proclivity toward heart problems found in endurance athletes. I know many former peers with atherosclerosis, cardiac arrhythmias, and other heart troubles.
For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering two reader questions. The first comes from reader Larisa. She is about to give birth, has been hearing the “wake your newborn every 2 hours to feed” recommendation, and wonders how realistic, evolutionarily-congruent, and healthy that will be for new parents desperate for sleep. I offer a few loose recommendations that hopefully make her feel better about what’s about to descend upon her life. Second, is there such a thing as too much low-level activity? Mariel walks 10+ miles a day, strength trains, and stands when she gets tired of walking. Her coworkers think she’s crazy. What do I think? Find out below.
No longer the sole province of the hemp-swathed sprouting enthusiast, meditation’s popularity has exploded across our collective faces. Tech companies have embraced mindfulness meditation as the ultimate productivity. Google has “mindful lunches,” complete with prayer bells and hour-long vows of silence. And as legitimate meditation researchers uncover more benefits to our brains, our bodies, and our psyches, diehard rationalists have been forced to accept the scientific merits of mindfulness.
My explanation for why interest in meditation has grown is that it’s a replacement for the nature in which we no longer reside. For hundreds of thousands of years, we spent our days in natural settings where much of the mind chatter stops and we exist in the present moment. The falling leaves sparkling overhead with sunlight. The herky-jerk scamper of a startled lizard just off the trail. The erratic brilliant butterfly fluttering through the scene that you can’t help but stop to watch. That was life for most of human history. It wasn’t special. It was home. It’s what we knew.
Last week I took up the subject of health through the varying stages of life. What does health mean to us? How should we develop it or live it within the scheme of the different stages we go through as logistical events and developmental maturity shift the focus and parameters of our lives? How do our major milestones challenge our approach to well-being? Let’s pick up that topic again and finish off the discussion. I hope you’ll share your own thoughts on how differing stages of life influenced your thinking about health and what approaches fit the times best for you.
Things are changing. You can throw a stone in any direction and hit either a CrossFit gym, a Whole Foods, or (on Sundays) a farmer’s market. People have actually heard of paleo and most places have a decent salad on the menu. Going Primal isn’t so strange or alienating anymore. Now that the status quo is catching up to us, it’s time to look to the horizon. What are the emerging trends in Primal/paleo thinking that will break out and propel us forward? Where are we taking this train next? And is the world changing in ways conducive to our Primal lifestyle?
Let’s see the top 7 emerging trends.
Last month, the NY Times Well Blog dropped a piece discussing the results of a recent study of how endurance runners alter their stride as they age. Investigators observed a group of 110 experienced runners aged 23 to 59 making their way around a track. Runners under 40 tended to display greater lower leg activity as they ran, whereas runners over 40 showed impaired lower leg activity. The latter relied more on their hip musculature (the absolute activity of which was still lower than that of younger runners) and showed an impaired “push off”; they had weaker strides and didn’t rise up as high off the ground. Overall, the older runners used their ankles and calves less without increasing hip musculature activity to cover the difference. They just got slower.