But is Exercise really good for your Health?
(Don't ask an Epidemiologist!)...
Epidemiologists use "risk ratios"
There have been numerous epidemiological studies to show that regular exercise,
3 or more times per week will reduce your risk factor for heart disease, hormone
dependent cancers, diabetes and other illnesses.
These studies produce risk ratio estimates. Risk ratio estimates often predict
approximately 50% decrease in your risk of contracting one of the dreaded diseases
over a period of time. For example, if you exercise, you may be 50 % less likely
to die of a heart attack over the next ten years. But
risk ratio by themselves, without background information are meaningless!
That is a
bold statement, and needs to be explained.
Here are some possible scenarios:
(For a full comentary on the the issues of dietary risk ratio research, you cannot do better than to visit
- Over a 10 year period, one in 10 million exercise junkies dies of cancer of the "thingummy", while
five out of 10 million couch potatoes die of the same dreaded illness. The risk ratio is 20%. That is an
impressive risk ratio! The researchers need good publicity or they will not get funding for
their next research project. They tell the media. The media publish under the headline
"Cancer of the Thingummyjig easily Preventable!" This happens time and time again.
But look at the back ground numbers!
If you don't exercise, you have an extra chance of contracting "cancer of the thingummy" over the next ten years
of 4 in 10 million. Hardly enough to get me motivated to exercise!
- The epidemiologists need to come up with politically correct answers. If the powerful international
margarine companies and the American Heart Assocations say that margarine is good for you, how likely is it
that you will get funding for a research project that proves that margarine is good for you?
And conversely, how likely do you think it would be that you will get funding for a research project that proves that
margarine is bad for you? You don't have to be Einstein to work that one out!
- Any risk ratio study that stops when only a small percentage (say less than 10%)
of the individuals have succumbed to the targeted illness
fails to answer the question about the other 90%. Would they have succumbed if we had continued to look? _
we just don't know if we havn't waited long enough to find out!
Risk ratios by themselves therefore mean very little. The question we really want
to ask, is "how much longer am I likely to live if I exercise regularly?" This is
the sort of question which cancer specialists are faced with every day. A cancer
specialist will quote you a "median survival time"
. (the time that passes before half the patients die after a
given treatment). For example, the cancer doctor knows he's on to a winning treatment
if his treated patients on average live 5 or 10 years longer than none treated persons.
"Fit People do in Fact Live Longer...."
Author's comment: The "highly fit people" figure of "6 to 12 years longer"
You have to be a naturally healthy person to withstand the rigours of high level exercise, and this may have skewed
the research finding! Don't worry if you fail in your attempt to reach the perceived fitness level of a
marathon runner! It may be that you are simply not blessed with a body robust enough or indeed a lifestyle
sufficiently free of commitments!
- "It has been assumed for a long time that physically fit people live longer
than those who are not fit. Now there is conclusive proof from one of the premier
research institutions, the Cooper Institute for Aerobic Research in Dallas, TX. In
a study of 18,000 men it was found that runners or other highly fit people live an
average 6 to 12 years longer than couch potatoes. Even moderately fit people live
4 to 7 years longer."
- Runner's World, January 2000, quoted in the September 2000 health newsletter of
www.ercgroup.com/ (unfortunately no longer available at this site).
"And Fit People do in Fact suffer less from quite a Number of Diseases.."
"A Baker's dozen Reasons to Exercise..."
- Weight control. Exercise itself burns calories, but it also builds muscles that, themselves, burn calories even while you are not exercising.
- Better sleep. You'll fall asleep sooner and sleep more soundly.
- Gallstones. Active women are 30 percent less likely to have gallstones as sedentary women.
- Colon Cancer. The most active people have half the risk of colon cancer as the least active.
- Diverticular Disease. Active men have a 37% lower risk of this disease as the least active ones.
- Arthritis. Regular moderate exercise can reduce joint swelling and pain in people with arthritis.
- Anxiety & Depression. Aerobic exercise releases natural opiates into the body that relieve and/or prevent depression.
- Heart Disease. Numerous studies confirm the benefits of exercise in reducing the risk of heart disease.
- Blood Pressure. Regular exercise can keep high blood pressure away and reduce it if it is present.
- Diabetes. The more active you are, the lower the risk of adult-onset diabetes.
- Falls & Fractures. Exercise helps build strength and balance, thus preventing the risk of falls.
- Enlarged Prostate. In one study, men who walked 2 to 3 hours a day had a 25% lower risk of benign prostate hyperplasia.
- Osteoporosis. Strength-building exercise and weight-bearing exercise can increase bone density.
- Nutrition Action, January/February 2001, quoted in the health newsletter of
www.ercgroup.com/ (unfortunately no longer available at this site).
How much Exercise is enough?
American health Authorities used to state that half an hour three times per week was enough. They have recently upped their recommendation by 200%. The new recommendation is now an hour a day, six days per week.
Is too much Exercise harmful?
The following quote gives a balanced answer to the question:-
A major reason for developing the EasyVigour Training system is to encourage a ballanced approach to training.
- "Everyday life throws many stressors at us and these all take a toll on our minds and bodies. Add to these the physical and mental stresses of training and competition it becomes easy to see how so many athletes become over-stressed (physiologically and psychologically). What is more, the phenomenon is not confined to elite / full-time athletes. Working full-time, raising a family, maintaining a home and garden etc. is enough to over-stress most individuals; add to this training for a sport as demanding as cycling and the risk of underperformance in high.
"Many coaches, and riders themselves, fail to give due respect to the other stressors in a riderís life when planning training and racing schedules. This leads to over-ambitious programs and unrealistic goals. Failure to comply with the program and achieve the goals further adds to the stress and increases the risk of greater under-performance.
"Conversely, the full-time athletes may find themselves with little else to do apart from race and train, which in turn can lead to staleness and mental, as well as physical fatigue. Interestingly mood state is one of the most reliable indictors of pending or actual over-training problems.
"The moral here is to look at the individual as a whole rather than concentrating solely on the sport related objectives. Exercise can be enormously beneficially in the treatment and reduction of stress but it can also contribute to it unless handled with respect.
"Sport science and medicine aside the clearest indicators of over-training are plateaued or decreased performance in the face of increasing training. Fatigue, apathy and frequent illness are also commonly observed. As with so many things in life it is the afflicted that is the last to notice."
- Ref. Article posted but since removed from http://www.scientific-coaching.com-
Is too much exercise harmful? Yes! Absolutely! And I will hammer the point home a second time! All extremes are harmful!-
At the minor level you get colds and sore throats, and your spouse or partner is depressed and lonely. Not good! At the next level, too much exercise leads to sore joints and frayed ligaments, muscles in spasm, shoddy workplace habits, constant colds and lack of energy. At the worst, over ambitious training leads to major accidents; the "can't be bothered syndrome"; lack of attention; family and relationship breakdown, and severe debilitating illnesses such as mononucleosis and mental depression. These are all outcomes of an excessive unrelenting total stress loading. Is too much exercise harmful? Absolutely!
- Too many miles!
- No rest!
- Insufficient time to maintain work and family commitments!
- Not listening to your body's weakest links!
Some of your stress may come from over ambitious exercising. Some of your stress will come from other sources, such as bereavement, divorce, job change, pressure to renovate the house, burglary, traffic accidents, poor nutrition and environmental pollution and, (not least), feeling of "lack of control" over your destiny. Perhaps you will be subjected to crippling and painful illness? In summary, your system is subjected to a complex pattern of stress every day, week and year of your life.
But not to despair! Stress management is the battle and excitement of life! Finding ways to minimize and control each component of stress! To counterbalance and to balance stresses! To maximize your stress tolerance! To still come out with love for your fellow man and faith in your God! To keep alive your enthusiasm for the challenges of each day and dreams of each year! That is what this web site is dedicated to! Please browse further and share my dream!
There is no doubt at all that regular exercise, at least sufficient to get you warm and mildly sweating is beneficial to the whole system. But don't overdo it!