Thursday, January 7, 2010

Vigorous Exercise and It's Detractors

Tuesday's print edition of the Wall Street Journal had three excellent articles on the benefits of exercise. They can be viewed on line here, here and here. I normally wouldn't write about this at all, but a few items really caught my eye. First, let me state that I believe that exercise does very little to assist in weight loss, based on my research and personal experience. So I am not promoting exercise for that reason.

However, I was astounded at how exercise reduces the severity and frequency of so many diseases. The other interesting fact was the seeming correlation between extremely vigorous exercise and improved health as demonstrated by Dr. Paul Williams. Here is where the controversy starts. From the WSJ:

While Dr. Williams is well respected by other exercise scientists, he is shunned by those in the public-health field. Dr. Williams is routinely excluded from committees charged with formulating exercise guidelines, and his grant proposals are often rejected as irrelevant because few exercisers want to hear the word "more." Public-health officials also worry that touting Dr. Williams's research could discourage the sedentary from doing any exercise at all, or lure them off the couch with goals too lofty to engender success.
Here is the nanny state at its worst and most pernicious, because it is the kind of low level controversy that never sees the light of day. Rather than just letting the truth get published, the public health czars think we are all too stupid to handle the truth. Of course there are down sides to very vigorous exercise, risk of injury and becoming demotivated among them; but for goodness sake, let free adults decide for themselves.

The last article talked about making the time for exercise and has some great tips to get people moving. My tip comes from what my youngest does; he really doesn't like exercise, but he often walks for an hour or more while playing a hand held video game. My research has shown that he gets as much benefit or more than I get from a vigorous 20 minute run.


  1. Yes, but you can't blog while you do it!

  2. Soon we will have technology to fix that.
    Actually, I always wondered about people who listened to music while running or read a book on the stationary. If I were able to do that, I figured that my workout wasn't hard enough.
    That's why I really love playing basketball to work out, the competition pushes me to my physical limits. I just don't get to play enough.