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  • Misleading Guidelines?

    New exercise guidelines have been issued by the chief medical officer in the UK.

    They are based on a comprehensive review of the latest scientific evidence regarding physical activty and health.

    The new guidelines include the following points:

    •The intensity at which we exercise is key, and light activity such as strolling and housework is unlikely to have much positive impact on the health of most people. For aerobic exercise to be beneficial it must raise your heartbeat and make you sweat.
    •The more exercise you do, the better. Everyone should do a minimum of 150 minutes a week of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise but that really is the minimum for health benefits. If you can go beyond 150 minutes, you’ll gain even more health benefits.
    •Sedentary time (time spent sitting down to watch TV, use a computer, read or listen to music) is bad for your health, even for those who are achieving 150 minutes of exercise a week.
    The guidelines, which are now much more in line with those used in the US, also include recommendations for muscle-building and bone strengthening activities such as lifting weights and yoga.

    Whilst I agree with the muscle building, questions need to be raised on how people will interpret light activities such as strolling? surely walking is one of the best activities one can undertake?

    I also take the 'sedentary time' comments as contextual, as part of a busy lifestyle surely reading and/or listening to music is good for the soul, stress relieving and goes far beyond mere physical health benefits.

    I wish so called expert reports would take a more holistic view and not just write their pure scientific facts as these can clearly be misinterpretted.
    Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.
    Walter Elliot

    I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork; for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding. Albert Einstein

  • #2
    Walking is a very important part of being fit. Regular walking helps one maintain good mobility as the years roll on. There are many other benefits as well including mental well being. That said, if one wants to slow down the aging process and enjoy robust health, they must engage in some more intense exercise as well. Regular weight training type exercise and high intensity interval type training such as sprint intervals fit the bill quite well.

    A good program would be to combine the higher intensity work with plenty of simple walking, biking, hiking etc. The whole idea that "the more the better" is certainly not true. I understand that these guidelines are likely aimed at the inactive and therefore meant to impress upon them that they need to do lots of exercise. In reality the right amount is best. Very intense work must be brief and infrequent allowing for full recovery. Walking and the like can be done other days with the amount based on energy levels. A good way to gauge whether or not you are getting the right amount is how you feel most days. If you are generally tired and not making much if any progress in the gym, you are doing too much likely. If you feel great most days and are making strength gains, you are likely in the optimal zone. Of course plenty of sleep and a diet comprised of whole foods is essential.

    I agree with you on the sedentary comments. We all need down time resting the mind, body and soul. To say one should never sit or lay around is just plain ludicrous, especially when one is living life in a way similar to what I described above.
    Last edited by Forever Young; 02-22-2012, 09:49 AM.

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    • #3
      I can sympathize with the gist of your gripe but I think these guidelines are actually more good than bad. These types of guidelines are aimed at the type of people who rationalize sitting on their ass for 15 hours because they walked for 30 minutes. Walking is great for you, but it won't get you fit and strong on its own. You know that already though, so the guidelines aren't really intended for you.
      "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

      "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Al_Kavadlo View Post
        IYou know that already though, so the guidelines aren't really intended for you.
        True...but I just think if the general bod is trying to do the best thing, this type of advice whilst not wholly wrong, is also not wholly correct and may discourage people from just starting out simply by walking, and God forbid that they start running thinking its better for them and incur all sorts of injuries....maybe its just me

        Awesome website BTW - I can barely do one pull up and I know I ought to be better as it would help my rock climbing
        Perseverance is not a long race; it is many short races one after the other.
        Walter Elliot

        I am a horse for a single harness, not cut out for tandem or teamwork; for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person do the thinking and the commanding. Albert Einstein

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        • #5
          Originally posted by badbunny View Post
          True...but I just think if the general bod is trying to do the best thing, this type of advice whilst not wholly wrong, is also not wholly correct and may discourage people from just starting out simply by walking, and God forbid that they start running thinking its better for them and incur all sorts of injuries....maybe its just me
          Agree with you there. I think the message of the guidelines are well intentioned, though the delivery is quite poor.
          My Leangains Journey

          Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by badbunny View Post
            Awesome website BTW - I can barely do one pull up and I know I ought to be better as it would help my rock climbing
            Thanks! I've got a new book coming out soon that's all about pull-ups!
            "In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they couldn't be more different."

            "You can have anything you want, but you can't have everything you want."

            My blog: http://www.AlKavadlo.com

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            • #7
              The way I see it, such things are nothing whatsoever to do with the government. Anything any of those idiotarians says about something obviously a personal matter and nothing to do with them, I just ignore.

              IMO the rot started with Edwina Currie. She invented a scare about salmonella in eggs in the 1980s to raise her profile, even though it all turned out to be totally untrue. If you start with the assumption they are all talking out of their collective behinds, then it really simplifies matters. Also anything on BBC News is probably wrong too. Once you get your eye into their trickery you soon catch them at it.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by badbunny View Post
                True...but I just think if the general bod is trying to do the best thing, this type of advice whilst not wholly wrong, is also not wholly correct and may discourage people from just starting out simply by walking, and God forbid that they start running thinking its better for them and incur all sorts of injuries....maybe its just me

                Awesome website BTW - I can barely do one pull up and I know I ought to be better as it would help my rock climbing
                I agree it should warn people with BMI>27.5 that running could damage their knees for example. That said, it's easy enough to find that sort of information on the Web.

                On the whole this advice is pretty sound, IMO. Guidelines on exercise have a bigger impact on public health than nutritional guidelines, as there's more consensus on the benefits, and they are generally simpler to follow and less prone to contradiction, so they're less likely to be disregarded.

                As for sedentary time - experience tells me that it's not healthy to be sedentary for most of the time outside 150 minutes of moderate exercise. I know plenty of people who fit into that category, living on ready meals and take-aways, getting groceries delivered to their home, driving everywhere, shopping online etc, and most are not in good shape in spite of doing a few exercise classes a week. There's no danger whatsoever of 95% of the UK population not getting enough sedentary time, myself included. Getting enough quality sedentary time dedicated to relaxation and play is another matter.
                F 5 ft 3. HW: 196 lbs. Primal SW (May 2011): 182 lbs (42% BF)... W June '12: 160 lbs (29% BF) (UK size 12, US size 8). GW: ~24% BF - have ditched the scales til I fit into a pair of UK size 10 bootcut jeans. Currently aligning towards 'The Perfect Health Diet' having swapped some fat for potatoes.

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                • #9
                  Just another reason to steadfastly avoid being the person that this type of advice is aimed at
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                  • #10
                    This is how we get a world of chronic cardio-ers...

                    That is all!
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                    • #11
                      I think Forever Young and Al_Kavadlo summed it up best. I think it's important to keep in mind such guidelines are intended for the masses, not folks that are interested in more healthy lifestyles such as Paleo or Primal.

                      As for my own two cents about walking, I personally see it as a bit of a Catch-22. Is walking a bad activity? Absolutely not. As mentioned above, it is good for overall mobility (particularly into older age), plus there are mental/psychological benefits, as well.

                      That said, I think walking is completely over-hyped as an exercise worthy of rapidly shedding weight or greatly improving fitness. Let's face it, how often do we see overweight folks walking on treadmills at a gym, often at a less-than-speedy pace? Unfortunately, they're probably thinking they're getting in a good workout while they're able to chat on their cell phone or read a book instead of dedicating any sort of intensity to their workout.

                      I suppose the fitness industry is arguably as responsible for this disconnect as the overweight walker expecting dramatic results with minimal effort, but the point remains the same, in my opinion: light walking does not deliver the results a lot of people seek.

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                      • #12
                        Then again, simply walking for a half-hour each day brings large health benefits: 23 and 1/2 hours: What is the single best thing we can do for our health? - YouTube

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                        • #13
                          The problem with the advice is that it is correct when it says strolling is no good, but it is very vague when it comes to what is good. This is where Mark's guideline on moving slowly (heart rate 55-75% of theoretical max) is good. However, that is proably seen to be too difficult for the masses to use, hence the advice to raise heart rate and sweat. It's not easy to implement mass change
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