Category: Low Level Aerobic Activity

A Case Against Cardio (from a Former Mileage King)

We all know that we need to exercise to be healthy. Unfortunately, the popular wisdom of the past 40 years – that we would all be better off doing 45 minutes to an hour a day of intense aerobic activity – has created a generation of overtrained, underfit, immune-compromised exerholics. Hate to say it, but we weren’t meant to aerobicize at the chronic and sustained high intensities that so many people choose to do these days. The results are almost always unimpressive. Ever wonder why years of “Spin” classes, endless treadmill sessions and interminable hours on the “elliptical” have done nothing much to shed those extra pounds and really tone the butt? Don’t worry. There’s a reason why the current methods fail, and when you understand why, you’ll see that there’s an easier, more effective – and fun – way to burn fat, build or preserve lean muscle and maintain optimal health. The information is all there in the primal DNA blueprint, but in order to get the most from your exercise experience, first you need to understand the way we evolved and then build your exercise program around that blueprint.   Like most people, I used to think that rigorous aerobic activity was one of the main keys to staying healthy – and that the more mileage you could accumulate (at the highest intensity), the better. During my 20+ years as a competitive endurance athlete, I logged tens of thousands of training miles running and on the bike with the assumption that, in addition to becoming fit enough to race successfully at a national class level, I was also doing my cardiovascular system and the rest of my body a big healthy favor. Being the type A that I am, I read Ken Cooper’s seminal 1968 book Aerobics and celebrated the idea that you got to award yourself “points” for time spent at a high heart rate. The more points, the healthier your cardiovascular system would become. Based on that notion, I should have been one of the healthiest people on the planet. Unfortunately, I wasn’t – and that same mindset has kept millions of other health-conscious, nirvana-seeking exercisers stuck in a similar rut for almost 40 years. It’s time to get your head out of the sand and take advantage of your true DNA destiny, folks! The first signal I had that something was wrong was when I developed debilitating osteoarthritis in my ankles…at age 28. This was soon coupled with chronic hip tendonitis and nagging recurrent upper respiratory tract infections. In retrospect, it is clear now that my carbohydrate-fueled high-intensity aerobic lifestyle was promoting a dangerous level of continuous systemic inflammation, was severely suppressing other parts of my immune system and the increased oxidative damage was generally tearing apart my precious muscle and joint tissue. The stress of high intensity training was also leaving me soaking in my own internal cortisol (stress hormone) bath. It wasn’t so clear to me at the time exactly what was happening … Continue reading “A Case Against Cardio (from a Former Mileage King)”

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Sweetened Straws & Treadmill Desks (You Can Stop Holding Your Breath Now)

Worker Bees’ Daily Bites:

The latest in health news, plus some very odd new products.

Life Causes Breast Cancer

Great. Just being alive and kicking puts you at risk for breast cancer death (particularly if you are a woman in your forties). We are including this news because there is a silver lining to the polluted cloud we ingest and refer to as air. Here are tips to minimize the potential physical damage from air (and building) contaminants:

– Live as far as possible from freeways and major roads (even 100 feet is great).

– Live in either a really old building or a fairly new one.

– Don’t smoke.

– Eat at least 6 servings of vegetables daily, especially greens and colorful veggies.

– Exercise 3 times a week.

– Plant some trees in your yard if possible; and keep some plants in your pad.

– Consider an antioxidant supplement.

– If possible, shorten your commute so you aren’t sitting in car exhaust cocktails every day.

Introducing the Treadmill Desk

Finally, life is complete! The newest exercise machine features a built-in computer desk. That’s right: multi-tasking is no longer sufficient; it’s all about omnipo-tasking. (We’re holding out for the Blackberry that you can graft to your head with a glittery adhesive strip. Preferably strawberry-scented and available in your choice of five juicy colors.)

Do Not Tell the Fuming Fuji About This One!

Another amazing product to undermine the health of the little seedlings: now milk comes with “sipahh straws” that are artificially pre-sweetened thanks to a lovely candy coating. Have any of you heard about this? They’re being used in McDonald’s Happy Meals. This way, kids will drink their milk!

Web it out:

Grocery store discovers double-shelled egg

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The Tuesday 10

The Top 10 Tips for: Getting Fit Wanna get fit? If you’re just starting out, keep in mind it’s not going to happen overnight…but you can be lookin’ pretty good by next month with these tips. The reason most get-ripped regimens fail is because we simply expect way too much, way too soon. Big changes in your body require big changes in your lifestyle. Period. It took your whole life to be the way you are now, right? It’s going to take more than two days to start making changes to that. But these 10 pointers will get you started – and you’ll notice some very pleasant effects if you stick with them. You’ll be surprised that very few of them have anything to do with lifting so much as a finger. Fitness is many factors coming together – it’s a lot more than just hitting the gym (thank goodness). 1. Cut calories the lazy way. To shape up, you must reduce your fat so your muscles can start doing their thing. This is actually very, very easy to do: every time you go to put something in your mouth, don’t. No, no, just kidding! You have to eat. Here’s what to do: – in restaurants, eat half the plate and get the rest to go. Don’t eat it when you get home – let the dog or the neighbor kid with hollow legs enjoy it. – immediately run out and get yourself some 7″ plates. Those are now your dinner plates. Preso, portion sizes reduced. – Don’t eat anything crunchy, creamy, pale or fried. This pretty much takes care of all high-calorie, unhealthy foods. Examples: chips, ranch dressing, bread sticks, chicken nuggets. We know, veggies are crunchy. It’s not an absolute rule. Just a guide. – Switch all snacks to cherry tomatoes, carrot sticks or broccoli florets. Depending on how much you snack, you’ll save 200 to 600 calories a day doing this. 2. Don’t drink your calories. A little coffee or tea is one thing. But soda, shakes, iced coffee drinks, juices and energy drinks are overflowing with calories, which you don’t want, right? Don’t waste precious caloric intake on liquids that don’t fill you up. 3. Absolutely no drive-through or delivery food. McDonald’s likes to run those “Mommy and me” ads that show slender young Mommy eating salad while her ringlet-bedecked tutu-wearing darling is busy dipping apples into some sweet sap. Please. This stuff is generally more marketing than meaningful, so read the ingredients and avoid anything sweet or fried. Best to stick to fresher fare. 4. Move it! You don’t have to become a gym rat. You don’t have to sign up for the local 10K. But you need to move. Simply put, any movement that is more than you currently do is going to be effective. If you don’t ever work out, walking around the neighborhood for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week is going to start having an impact after just two … Continue reading “The Tuesday 10”

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Shocking But True

Did you know almost a third of people who break their hip bones will die from complications?

It’s astounding – and it’s just one more example of how the commonplace is also the unexpected. We panic about bird flu, when the usual flu is really the killer. Movies sensationalize bear and shark attacks when we’re far more likely to get fatally hurt by the neighbor’s dog.

I don’t think this is cause for holing up in your bedroom (after all, you’re much more likely to die falling out of bed than being in a plane crash or getting shot). I don’t even think it’s cause for yet another worry. It’s simply a good reminder that we humans aren’t so good at risk assessment. We have irrationally huge fears about things that will probably never affect us, and we underestimate the garden-variety threats. (Check out my post “Risk Schmisk” using the search option at right to learn more about our quirky brains.)
What this means: We are far more likely to be hurt by everyday encounters – and a lot of these can be prevented with some reasonable lifestyle measures. Call me a silver-lining type of guy – I think this is pretty good news. For the most part, we don’t have to worry about catastrophic or unpredictable health threats. We are lucky in that we can prevent most health problems. In the case of hip bone fractures, which plague far too many Americans, there are some very simple ways to stop this unexpectedly dangerous occurrence.

Regular weight-bearing activity like weight lifting, walking, hiking or jogging is a great way to maintain and build bones. Avoid soda, take a multivitamin containing calcium, and remember to take it easy by avoiding stressful situations as much as you can.
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[tags]hip bones, flu, weight-bearing activity, everyday risks[/tags]

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