|Everything, in life, that I found challenging|
was all about letting go of beliefs, truths,
and identities that I was sure was real.
I recently read a book reviewing the historical research in exercise science. Interestingly, just like nutritional science, there was one or two landmark studies in the late 60's that would change the direction (and beliefs) about exercise. Needless to say, I read this book with my mouth wide open while holding my breath and yelling out the odd profanity. I wished I had read it sooner and I really wished I had taken the time to review some of these studies that influenced the way I did things (and talked about things) as a fitness professional.
The history of exercise usually begins with the story of Phillidipides running from Athens to Sparta to announce the landing of the Persian Army in Marathon. The Athenians were looking for help from the Spartans, but apparently the Spartans had other plans. So poor Phidippides ran all the way back to tell the Athenians the Spartans were busy. He then began his run to Marathon to help fight (and win) the battle (and hopefully had time for a quick nap and nosh). He then ran from Marathon to tell the Athenians the good news before he dropped dead out of exhaustion. In retrospect, we should have paid more attention to this....even Hippocrates declared walking the best form of exercise for health.
Today we have marathons, ultra-marathons, triathlons, runs for all sortsa causes, and spin classes that have dropped the rest principle to offer hard core, long distance riding for the weekend warriors. It's all about maximum heart rate, fat crying, and pain (seen as weakness) leaving the body. The industry of fitness has taken on a life of its' own without much critical thought to whether it is good for health or bad (and this is why we should have paid more attention and respect to Phil and Hip in the beginning).
Interestingly (and something very very exciting in my opinion) the latest research on health and vigorous exercise has now suggested it may be hazardous to one's health. Before Cooper, there was an understanding that too much activity could damage the heart....and they are starting to say the same things again. I have written about this in the past, but having reviewed the literature over the years, I am now more convinced than ever. If I were a distance athlete I would think twice about continuing.
In other words, we have gotten the benefits of fitness (as we practice it today) all wrong. According to many studies, lean muscle tissue from strength training only provides a modest positive change in resting metabolism. In addition, there is a fine line between enough exercise and too much. Fitness enthusiasts are exhausting themselves as they reach for the holy grail of fitness (i.e. low body fat) while the jokes on them....more body fat leads to enhanced health and longevity. OMG...my brain just exploded. From those charts demonstrating your healthy % of heart rate max and the runner high to theories on muscle hypertrophy, it is all a matter of opinion. These fitness truths have originated by a few studies without much challenge thereby solidifying this knowledge as fact. In fact, it is the mythology of the fitness industry that keeps this multi-billion dollar money grab fit and healthy.
|The book I have been refering to is Gina Kolata's above. She is a science writer and journalist and, although this book was published in 2003, it still is an important read for anyone working in the fitness and health industry.|
|Seriously...dude! When is it going to be enough?|
So the next time you attempt to add a little physical activity to your life remember that it only takes 30 minutes a day at moderate to mild levels to see the greatest results.
It's not rocket surgery.