Category Archives: Sports

Want to feel better? Eat right and exercise! How hard is that to understand?

Since the vast majority of people don’t read “Triathlete Magazine” I am going to pass on an article called Get Phit by Erin Beresini. Erin writes: “Ameica is terribly inactive. Acording to the Centers for Disease Control, 80 percent of us don’t get the recommended minimum of 2.5 hours of moderate physical activity and two muscle-strengthening sessions a week.” (Triathlete Magazine May 2017 p 26

Now for all those who spend most of their lives sitting around and griping about how lousy they feel, how everything is so messed up wah, wah, wah. You are the people who are going to be old, obese and infirm by age 50, if not younger, of course according to you it will be someone else’s fault and you will of course expect someone else to pay your massive medical bill for your diabetes, heart problems etc. You’re the ones who are quick to grouse on FaceBook, but you won’t do a thing for anyone including yourselves. Get off the sofa, turn off Oprah and or your computer, put some comfortable shoes on and go walk a mile or so. Get some elastic straps (any sporting goods store and very inexpensive) hook them on to something sturdy and do 20 minutes of resistance training. Really, really simple! In a few weeks you will be feeling a heckuva lot better and maybe you will avoid having to have me pay for your diabetes medication.

Erin writes: “Eight of the top 10 diseases in the United States are related to physical inactivity,’ including mental health, diabetes and heart disease, says Tom Cove, CEO and president of the Sports and Fitness Industry Association.” Wow and all it takes is a little effort on your part. I was on my bike waiting for my GPS to boot up when this obese woman pulls in front of me in her car and starts laughing. Sure she takes a handful of pills everyday because she gets winded walking up a flight of stairs, but she thinks I’m funny looking in bike clothes. Maybe I am, but I think you’re kind of sad condemning yourself to a life of such misery and then laughing at others. Wow!

The point of Erin’s article is to set up a way for people to pay for their physical activity. OK, it does cost a little money, especially if you start to get a little serious about it. Fine, if the government were a little smarter about it, let you deduct the cost of running shoes, bike, health club, etc, you actually did something, the health crisis would disappear in rapid succession. We would not be paying billions for those who can’t control their food intake, who just can’t be bothered to get up and do something physical for even 20 minutes. “The PHIT Act would let individuals set aside up to $1,000 in pre-tax dollars and families up to $2,000, to spend on physical fitness related expenses…” Wow, could you imagine the immediate upgrade at your YM/YWCAs, Jewish Community Centers, etc? Tiny investment would make hundreds of millions notably more healthy. In the meantime you can do it on your own. I squirreled away money for about 6 months to buy a really nice race bike. It can be done.

Hey how about this,  Start thinking about what you eat. Start to go easy on the alcohol. Ditch the marijuana and other drugs (yea I know the ones out there who are trying to tell us that it’s actually good for you. Seriously? Why don’t you shut up and admit you have a problem). Get up twenty minutes earlier in the morning, go downstairs and use some straps, put on your comfy shoes and go outside. Get over your precious little dignity. I certainly don’t look that great working out, but anyone who has a clue knows what I’m doing and respects me for it. Even if I’m no one’s poster boy. You certainly aren’t in the least dignified being a hundred pounds over weight and unable to walk a flight of stairs. Chose the indignity of getting out there and exercising, I will have a lot more respect for you. Imagine, in a few weeks a few pounds lighter. You enable your body to activate the feel good hormones in your brain (dopamine, endorphins etc), you start having a positive outlook on life instead of all your whining on FaceBook, you avoid a lot of serious health risks and both you and I don’t have to pay a ridiculous amount of money for healthcare. Seriously think about it

This Tortise finally won one!

I did it! I’ve been competing (putting it charitably), in triathlons since 1985, and I finally medaled! I accomplished another goal in this particular race too. I drove all the way to Hammond, In. to do Leon’s Triathlon. I have now done races from Maine to Kansas and south to North Carolina. Leon’s Triathlon has also been the site of the U.S. Military triathlon championship and also as part of the race spotlighted the anniversary of the USO. Being retired military I did appreciate the emphasis on military in this race.

Now triathlons have different categories, not always the same, but age group categories always. Some races, like Leon’s, has a military and/or public safety category and many have a Clydesdale category, I finished second in the Clydesdale category. Hey it’s something and I finally hit it. Clydesdales are triathletes that are over 200 lbs and yea I more than qualify. Leons Tri 2nd place medal clydesdale divisionThe medal in the middle is the finishers medal, the medal off screen is the silver medal (I’ve been messing with it and I can’t line it up).

It was a lake swim and nice flat run and bike. Doing all my training in the hills all around me in south/central Pennsylvania, it is definitely pushing me. Leon’s was a really well run race. I’d like to do it again, but driving all the way to Indiana isn’t real practical and there are other states (West Virginia, Kentucky, South Carolina) that are closer that I haven’t done. Hey maybe I can follow up this medal win with a sponsor, a summer of triathlons starting in the south, through the midwest, ending in Bermuda, oh yeah!!

I would like to thank the folks at Leon’s for a really good race and a nice excuse for a short getaway with my wife. And very thankful for helping me finally get something for the mantle after 30 years of trying.

Leons ILeons II

 

Leons III(Please note the flags that were all around the course) I am not trying to say that I all of a sudden received a huge influx of energy or talent, but I just finished reading Meredith Atwood’s inspirational article in Triathlete Magazine (September 2016, p 23). “The Hare sometimes allows the ego and objective speed to get the best of him. the Tortoise can get discouraged for a million other reasons. The best bet is to have faith in yourself, [as a Christian I would also say God’s will for me too] and be proud of all of your efforts and races – but to always ask yourself if you are doing the best you can with what you have. I challenge my fellow Tortoises of the world to really push themselves in the next running race or workout. Ask yourself if you can channel your inner Hare, just for a little while, and see what you are made of. You might be surprised and learn to believe that ‘fast for you’ is sometimes exactly all the fast you need.”  Leons IV

I stuck with it and because of a few factors, yea I finally did it. I would hope that people would pick a passion and really stick with it. Even if “channeling” doesn’t get you a medal, I have really enjoyed triathlon and the other goals that I’ve set for it. I guess I could add to my trophy mantle of 1 (including a few finishers medals), a map of the U.S. showing the states that I have competed in. I’m going to keep doing it, maybe things will line up again, but just as important, I’m doing it.

Leons Tri VI

 

Fear and pain are what move you to grow, mature and serve others to your glory and Jesus’

One thing I find odd about people today is that too many of them genuinely think that things are supposed to happen nice and easy, that they’re never supposed to experience any kind of pain, that there shouldn’t be any risk to what they do. Basically we have become unrealistically averse to any kind of pain or risk. An article in “Triathlete Magazine” (October 2015 p 28) written by Jene Shaw discusses the fact that if you’re going to do anything to grow, there’s going to be pain.

It really is called maturing, too many really think that they can really sit back, contribute as little as possible or nothing and expect everyone else to scurry around them. Obviously as a person and in a society, that model is not going to last too long. Only so many people can take, because there are only so many  available to give. In order to grow and become stronger and be better positioned to support those in genuine need. When we all do what is necessary then it’s not just for someone else, be we do become much stronger and a lot better able to cope with life. As a part of that whole we become better.

Too many really believe that pain is bad and something is wrong when they have pain. As the picture posted by someone in the triathlon community puts so well, at the end , when the challenge is overcome, the pain is a sign that you have grown through it. Whether it’s triathlon, basketball, weights, abs, swimming, if I don’t feel some pain, muscular, a little bruising I really don’t feel I’ve gotten the whole experience. That pain in the muscles tells me, that my body will rebuild from that pain and make me stronger.

As Jene suggests in the article, you need to accept the pain, if you fight it or fear it you can’t grow into it. Believe me there have been plenty of times when I’ve stood at the start of a swim at 7am wondering what I’m doing up at this time, knowing that hitting that water is going to be a, yea, painful experience. Knowing that I’m probably going to be kicked and elbowed by other swimmers, knowing that I have to get out to bike and run, yea there is anxiety. But knowing the feeling of accomplishment, success in finishing and knowing what it will do for my physical, mental and yes spiritual growth that will follow (some call it “bragging rights”), helps me to stand up to the challenge. So realize what you love about it, what it will move you to and the heck with the pain. I’ve done 54 triathlons and dozens of other races, so yea, I think I know what I’m talking about.

Jene suggests setting some goals. How can I do the swim, bike, run faster. Isn’t that finishers medal going to look good with my other medals, how great it will be to share with the other finishers, with my family, friends,  others at church? Think about the things you need to do during the race in order to finish as strong as possible.

She suggests relaxing, find some positive way; deep breaths, stretching and shaking, encouraging mental images, encouraging the other triathletes. It will work out and it will be rewarding, even if it’s only for your personal satisfaction.

Yes there is pain that is a warning sign. When you get to the point where you have overcome a lot of fear, anxiety you might think you should push through that pain. You do have to learn the difference, when you need to push through and accomplish, or when you do need to stop in order to prevent further damage. So there is pain that we need to overcome on our own in order to grow stronger, but pain when we do need someone else’s help. Can you say “medical tent, take me to the hospital”?

But in a Christian context it is the same. As disciples we need to grow and strengthen. When we do, those around us can take courage in us, we become stronger to help those who are genuinely in need, we become givers and leaders, not just takers. Yes there is a time in the Christian walk when we do need to take. Jesus has provided those times to be baptized, to be strengthened in His Body and Blood in our body and spirit, to be built up and strengthened in His preached word and in Scripture. To be a part of Christian fellowship that builds up yourself and those around you. There are times when you will feel you can’t go on. Truth is that being a Christian marks you out for attacks by the devil. The upside is that it also marks us out to be protected by the Holy Spirit, and to be strengthened and gifted to be better able to provide for yourself and for others. Certainly Jesus’ disciples started out as kind of weak and petty. Within a few short years they grew to be tigers of the Christian faith who served many others and also stood up to the fear and challenges of being disciples up to and including dying for Christ.

Too many people today make up their minds that they can’t, when it’s really they won’t. They think that they’re too weak, when they’ve never even tried to see how strong they could be. I’ve experienced this a lot: “well you are bigger and stronger, mentally and physically, you’re special so you can”. I assure you the only way I became that way is by pushing myself. There are plenty of times when I could have just rolled over and let it defeat me. There are too many people who’ve already decided they can’t do anything for themselves and let it defeat them. Ironically those will be the someones who decide that you shouldn’t be doing those things for yourself either. You have to continue to strive. Yea, don’t get me started on those people who stand there, find some way to pooh-pooh what you’re doing and give you this “hey! You think you’re better than me?” Me? I really don’t care, but apparently you seem to know deep down.

Ministry has been a very real lesson in knowing who I can rely on and who I just need to keep at arms length. Sure I serve anyone as much as I can. But, especially in an inner-city church, there are a lot out there who simply don’t want to step up and in fact want to take all that you will give them, if not more. They really see others as simply a source to provide for themselves. Again, yes, do what you can and don’t try to make excuses to avoid situations. However, know your limits and what pain is a warning sign. Do you want to beat yourself on some of those people who are hard as rocks? There are a lot of Christian brothers and sisters who do understand their own growth and growth together with others. Those are the ones that you need to pull together with.

Yes, there is pain, that’s a good thing and the sooner you accept that it will build and strengthen, the better for you and those around you. Sometimes you do need to be at that starting line wondering; “what the heck am I doing here”. But you seem to get to the finish and realize how great that was. There is team too. It is exhilarating to win a basketball game as a team, even though you’ve gotten bruised and banged and it’s kind of hard to really stand. Those painful muscles in the morning are a wonderful memory of the things you did to be stronger from the previous day. Find those who encourage and build you up and let them do the same for you. Quit sitting behind that computer looking for that kind of fellowship. It’s sad on your part and it’s just not going to happen.

Celebrate the success you’ve achieved, share it with those who know what it means to be fearful and have pain, it’s a great way to grow in brothers and sisters. Realize that even when there is suffering for Jesus, He knows what’s going on, who is and isn’t His. I’m glad I’m His, I’m glad He’s given me the challenges He has and that He’s been the one to move me through the fear, pain, anxiety and given me the thrill of victory, no matter how small the world sees that victory. Let Jesus move you to where you need to be regardless of the things you have to overcome. When I’ve reached the end of those challenges, I’ve realized that Jesus has done the things necessary in order to get me there. So feel some real pain and fear, join those who know the joy and accomplishment that makes you feel. You will be a far better person and so much of your fear and stress will disappear. Find me at the starting line of the next race, it would be great to obsess and encourage with you. !

Pain in life, in sports, as a Christian

This is going to be some practical advice on fitness, competition, and also kind of a metaphor of life the way God made us. The subject matter is pain.

Now I will stipulate out of the box that I have probably had many more opportunities to build a tolerance for pain, in many respects, but in this context physical pain. In 29 years in the Coast Guard I was in many situations where either I was hypothermic or hyperthermic, too cold or too hot respectively. I always prefer too hot. Had bouts with motion sickness. Had many bouts with extreme fatigue. Did endure a lot of challenges of strength and physical punishment.

I also like to participate in sports. I played, a very little football. Not because I didn’t like it, I was a lousy player. I played a little basketball. You may doubt it, but basketball was probably much more physical. I had a guy come down right on the top of my head with his elbow. I’ve been elbowed straight in the face, sprained ankles a few times, and various hits. I’ve come closer to being knocked out on a basketball court, then football. I also like kick- boxing. I have built a high tolerance of pain because I went out and endured a lot of pain. In a lot of instances I had to. In more instances I wanted to be stronger and endure more so that I could serve better in what I do. The more strength and endurance I had, the more I could help those in my crew and the more I could help those who needed assistance.

One other caveat. I am not saying that you should not deal with legitimate pain. There is pain that you will experience as the result of a workout and it really feels good, it’s healthy pain. Whenever I go more than fifty miles on my bike I can feel that pain right in my seat, often for a few days. It’s not doing permanent damage, it’s also a “pleasant” reminder that I pushed a little harder and made myself a little stronger. That is a good thing. You do feel better for it.

I can hear you say “that’s nice, but I don’t like pain”. Ya, you will find it strange, but I have found that the exhilaration of taking a shot that you hadn’t before and realizing you’re still fine and a little stronger for it is a rush. Ya, I have bad eating habits myself, and I could stand to lose at least another 15 pounds. But for those of you who are reaching for your next twinkie and can’t begin to grasp the idea of enduring pain, you need to get a grip. Yes, there is bad pain, and for those of you who spend most of life sitting around playing video games or watching television you need to go to a doctor and make sure you can do more physical activity. But, I know this is really ground-breaking, if you put away the junk food, put away the screen(s), figure out what would be best for you to do, and do it. You will feel better. God made your body in order to feel good when you do the right things, and feel bad when you abuse it. You can say that it makes you feel good to sit in front of a screen and chain swill twinkies. But inevitably I will hear the same person say that they don’t feel well, physically, mentally and socially. We all have issues, but in terms of making them worse, sitting around and abusing your body with inactivity and bad food is going to make you feel worse. Eating well and pushing yourself will leave you feeling better, you will still have issues, but those issues won’t be so all consuming as I’ve seen it with people who just pursue bad habits and life style. I wish that our government would make the same campaigns against diabetes that it does about smoking. Diabetes is far more of a critical issue, I know a lot of people with diabetes, don’t know one with lung cancer. The biggest health issue in this country is by far diabetes, and we are raising our children to be diabetic in their 30’s. This is health crisis that is completely out of control and it’s all due to lousy diet and lack of physical conditioning. Wow talk about controllable elements!

God made our bodies in order to grow stronger, to endure pain and to also through chemical means endure that pain, to make it almost an addiction. There are many who would claim to be “addicted” to exercise. I know that I don’t feel very well if I don’t exercise on a regular, if not daily basis. Part of that “addiction” is a hormone that God has given human beings the ability to create called “endorphins”. Endorphins are an opiate, I’ve seen it described as three times more powerful than morphine. The trick though is that endorphins, along with other “feel good” body chemicals, are released through exercise and proper body maintenance. Sitting around will give you a dose of “dopamine”, but it will act more to cloud your brain and make you feel more lethargic, than to make you feel good!

Having said all this, there are ways to “increase your pain tolerance” and you should, we have a responsibility to ourselves, each other and to God who gave us a strong, healthy body, at least initially, to make ourselves stronger. Otherwise we become a burden and make things tougher for those around us.

In terms of sports, I saw this article in “Triathlete Magazine” (Mackenzie Havey March 2015 p 54). One reason we don’t push a little harder is that we don’t want to feel pain. The article says: “Published in the European Journal of Applied Physiology, researchers had a group of cyclists perform sprint interval tests on bikes, giving them either 1.5 grams of acetaminophen (pain reliever, aka generic Tylenol) or a placebo prior to exercise. They then monitored their power output and heart rate during each sprint, finding that when they took acetaminophen, the participants had a significantly greater mean power output.”

“…They concluded that their findings ‘supported the notion that exercise is regulated by pain perception and increased pain tolerance can improve exercise capacity.'”

Yes, I know, horrors, the idea that you actually have to suffer a little. Come on in day-to-day life you have to “suffer” in order to achieve something. Work 8 hours (let’s hope you’re really ‘working’, I’ve seen enough of the “working man” who whines about how he works and I see way too many people chatting and lolly-gagging versus working). “Suffer” 8 hours and get paid so you can live some kind of life. Hopefully you endure the fussing of children in order to try and raise them to be responsible adults. So the idea that you have to push a little to make yourself healthier shouldn’t be a surprise or a daunting chore.

Let me explain to you how the body works. The muscles in your body and incidentally that includes your heart and what you need to make your lungs function, need to grow. If you don’t do what’s necessary to make them grow, they become weaker. Hence cardio/pulmonary problems arise when you don’t strengthen them. In general, exercise breaks apart your muscle. Sounds scary, but unless you tear the muscle up a little, it can’t repair itself into something stronger. Forcing your heart to work at a higher rate (the average person has a heart rate of about 75 beats per minute. I have workouts that get my heart rate up to 175 beats per minute). If you are not conditioned for it, do not try to raise your heart beat that high. But even getting it into the 110s, makes your heart work harder and strengthens it. To do that you have to endure pain, but done right, it’s good pain. “…higher pain tolerance and increased performance go hand in hand. Luckily, with a bit of hard work, you can naturally boost that tolerance – and thereby performance – without running to the medicine cabinet.” Goes on to say that consistent training enables you to achieve a higher pain tolerance.

You do need recovery, if you keep breaking the muscles down, they won’t have a chance to repair and build more: “If you are focused on suffering all the time, you get tired and have no reserve, which lowers pain threshold.” And I’m here to tell you the time after that workout feels oh so nice. If you’ve been cold (I just finished doing a 13 mile bike ride in 40 degree weather), you feel nice and toasty and you have a very calm mindset. This is because your body was designed by God to kick in hormones to help you with pain. As I referred to one hormone that kicks in is called “dopamine” It tends to calm your body after significant exercise. During exercise your body kicks in “endorphins”. Endorphins gives your body a narcotic effect, they are an opiate. But an opiate that is designed by God to naturally relieve pain and to give you more strength during stress along with adrenaline to give you more energy and to withstand more stress. By the way, for you vegetarians, these are all the result of amino acids, which comes from protein. The most effective protein humans can eat are fish, chicken, eggs, beef. So this goofy idea that just eating vegetables is good for you? Overall? No, not really. But again it’s an issue of conditioning. If you’re conditioning your heart to be stronger it can deal with a little cholesterol. And a lot of these phoney cholesterol studies never really took into account some people’s natural tendency to have higher cholesterol.

Finally these all help to increase the flow of Serotonin, aided by our favorite turkey dinner chemical tryptophan, which both calm and help you to sleep, but both of these are also the body’s reaction to the chemicals that are released in order to strengthen and increase reaction. God made us to be incredibly resilient and to also help us to grow and be stronger. “But I’m too old”, yea? No! Our bodies can benefit from exercise well into old age. Heck I’ve heard enough stories of guys who realized in their mid-50s they couldn’t keep doing what they were doing and started to work out and they’re now doing Ironman Triathlons. So it can be done and is being done on a regular basis by regular Joe’s and Jane’s.

Again do not start a workout routine until you’ve been checked by a physician. There are conditions that physical activity will worsen. I would strongly suggest you pay a trainer too. I’ve been doing aerobic and strength workouts on a regular basis since I was in my teens, 40 years. But for someone starting even in their twenties, you can only go so far so fast, your body needs to build up to a certain level. Having said that the longer you wait, the longer it will take you to get to a healthy level.

We can far exceed what we think we can tolerate. Our mind usually has a much lower sense of what we can tolerate and your mental state will cause you to take your foot off the pedal when you really do have more in the tank. “…known as the Central Governor theory, says that it’s not our bodies but our brains that shut us down in an effort to either avoid harm or simply an aversion to pain…”(“Ask Bicycling” Bicycling Magazine June 2015 p 34) “…The power of suggestion is strong regardless of the message. In a 2007 study subjects experienced a 15 percent increase in pain tolerance with just the suggestion that they received morphine (they really got saline). The same concept supports the idea that we can fool ourselves into going faster. A 2012 study found that when cyclists raced a 4km time trial against a virtual competitor (that in fact was riding 1.7 percent quicker than their previous best all-out effort)m they still “won the race”. This means if you can overcome your mental reservations, ignore your brain, quit talking yourself out of things, that you can go stronger and longer than you think you can. Heck if I could improve performances 1.7 percent every time I worked out I’d be thrilled to death. A professional athlete who could do that would spiral into a whole other level of accomplishment.

In today’s world we talk ourselves into the idea that we should be happy and pain free, that is just not realistic and is actually unhealthy in so many ways: mentally, physically, aging, spiritually. God did not make us to be mediocre and settle for less. Granted we can’t all be Lance Armstrong or Michael Jordan etc, but we can and should be a heckuva lot better than we are. God made us to be that way by giving us such an amazing complex and strong body. Let’s quit this idea that we should be sitting around eating whatever we want and do a little more in our life. You will be better for it, your family will be, your neighborhood, your city, your church, heck can you imagine a whole society of people who have worked to their level of physical health? Our so-called “health care crisis” would evaporate instantly, our world would be so much happier and God made us to be that way. But, as usual, we give God a patronizing wave, ignore His will and take the easy way out.

 

Sports, competition can help you feel young again.

So I’m going to brag on myself here. Warning, you probably want to move on at this point, but I had a notable week. Last Saturday, June 20, did fifty mile bike ride partly to compete against myself and also as a fundraiser for the Family First Health Center in York.  With the help of my brothers and sisters in Jesus at First St Johns we raised $440. Better than last year and my overall time was the same as last year. I flatted at mile 15, but God provides and let me flat about a mile from a rest stop. A gentleman who has a bike shop in Hanover, Pa was helping with bike casualties and I am grateful for his help. Sorry I don’t remember the shop name, please feel free to remind me, I’d appreciate it. Got through the next 35 miles. Overall a nice challenge.

This past Friday I competed in the York Area Agency on Aging’s Senior Games and they really do a great job. They conduct a week long variety of games and sports and just treat everyone so wonderfully. Much thanks to all the volunteers who do such a great job. I highly recommend if you are over fifty and live in York County, Pa. you should come down and give it a shot. Well I decided to give every swimming event a shot, even the individual medley which I haven’t done since Gerald Ford was president.  I came away with a silver medal, go figure. Total haul seven medals: two bronze- 50 and 100 free. Three silver IM, fifty breast and hundred breast. And two gold, my first gold and oddly enough both backstroke which is definitely not my primo stroke either , but gold in fifty and hundred back.

Again thanks, it felt like the old days waiting around for my next event chatting up the competition and enjoying the company. If the Area Agency on Aging’s goal was to give me a shot of youth they succeeded, thank you and God bless you.

More is better, push a little more when you exercise

Now, remember, this does not mean be stupid. Make sure you have a doctor give you a good exam, make sure the doctor knows what you’re planning on and work up. Track what you do and as your body guides you and you see by the statistics you keep then push up a little more. But the cut to the chase is this, when you are smart about it and build your exercise you will be healthier.

Exercise can create some physical issues, especially in terms of joint life, but the benefits far outweigh and there are smart ways to deal with joint issues. So no excuses, go by the numbers and get going, seriously.

The Right Dose of Exercise for a Longer Life

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Phys Ed
PHYS ED

Gretchen Reynolds on the science of fitness.

Exercise has had a Goldilocks problem, with experts debating just how much exercise is too little, too much or just the right amount to improve health and longevity. Two new, impressively large-scale studies provide some clarity, suggesting that the ideal dose of exercise for a long life is a bit more than many of us currently believe we should get, but less than many of us might expect. The studies also found that prolonged or intense exercise is unlikely to be harmful and could add years to people’s lives.

No one doubts, of course, that any amount of exercise is better than none. Like medicine, exercise is known to reduce risks for many diseases and premature death.

But unlike medicine, exercise does not come with dosing instructions. The current broad guidelines from governmental and health organizations call for 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week to build and maintain health and fitness.

But whether that amount of exercise represents the least amount that someone should do — the minimum recommended dose — or the ideal amount has not been certain.

Scientists also have not known whether there is a safe upper limit on exercise, beyond which its effects become potentially dangerous; and whether some intensities of exercise are more effective than others at prolonging lives.

So the new studies, both of which were published last week in JAMA Internal Medicine, helpfully tackle those questions.

In the broader of the two studies, researchers with the National Cancer Institute, Harvard University and other institutions gathered and pooled data about people’s exercise habits from six large, ongoing health surveys, winding up with information about more than 661,000 adults, most of them middle-aged.

Using this data, the researchers stratified the adults by their weekly exercise time, from those who did not exercise at all to those who worked out for 10 times the current recommendations or more (meaning that they exercised moderately for 25 hours per week or more).

Then they compared 14 years’ worth of death records for the group.

They found that, unsurprisingly, the people who did not exercise at all were at the highest risk of early death.

But those who exercised a little, not meeting the recommendations but doing something, lowered their risk of premature death by 20 percent.

Those who met the guidelines precisely, completing 150 minutes per week of moderate exercise, enjoyed greater longevity benefits and 31 percent less risk of dying during the 14-year period compared with those who never exercised.

The sweet spot for exercise benefits, however, came among those who tripled the recommended level of exercise, working out moderately, mostly by walking, for 450 minutes per week, or a little more than an hour per day. Those people were 39 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who never exercised.

At that point, the benefits plateaued, the researchers found, but they never significantly declined. Those few individuals engaging in 10 times or more the recommended exercise dose gained about the same reduction in mortality risk as people who simply met the guidelines. They did not gain significantly more health bang for all of those additional hours spent sweating. But they also did not increase their risk of dying young.

The other new study of exercise and mortality reached a somewhat similar conclusion about intensity. While a few recent studies have intimated that frequent, strenuous exercise might contribute to early mortality, the new study found the reverse.

For this study, Australian researchers closely examined health survey data for more than 200,000 Australian adults, determining how much time each person spent exercising and how much of that exercise qualified as vigorous, such as running instead of walking, or playing competitive singles tennis versus a sociable doubles game.

Then, as with the other study, they checked death statistics. And as in the other study, they found that meeting the exercise guidelines substantially reduced the risk of early death, even if someone’s exercise was moderate, such as walking.

But if someone engaged in even occasional vigorous exercise, he or she gained a small but not unimportant additional reduction in mortality. Those who spent up to 30 percent of their weekly exercise time in vigorous activities were 9 percent less likely to die prematurely than people who exercised for the same amount of time but always moderately, while those who spent more than 30 percent of their exercise time in strenuous activities gained an extra 13 percent reduction in early mortality, compared with people who never broke much of a sweat. The researchers did not note any increase in mortality, even among those few people completing the largest amounts of intense exercise.

“Of course, these studies relied on people’s shaky recall of exercise habits and were not randomized experiments, so can’t prove that any exercise dose caused changes in mortality risk, only that exercise and death risks were associated.

Still, the associations were strong and consistent and the takeaway message seems straightforward, according to the researchers.

Anyone who is physically capable of activity should try to “reach at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week and have around 20 to 30 minutes of that be vigorous activity,” says Klaus Gebel, a senior research fellow at James Cook University in Cairns, Australia, who led the second study. And a larger dose, for those who are so inclined, does not seem to be unsafe, he said.

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How we honor our body, what God has given us.

I have a beef with the medical care system. We have way too many people who, at the slightest twinge, run off and expect someone to give them all sorts of care and miraculously expect every twinge to go away. I have bad news for you, there’s always going to be these weeney little booboos. Get over them. But we also need a medical system that first, knows what it’s talking about and doesn’t just pop a pill at the slightest whimper and we need to be much more knowledgeable about our bodies and quit the whining and whimpering.
I had a tightening in my left foot. Found out it was plantar fascitis. I run a lot, I do triathlons. One writer describes plantar as the “common cold” of runners, it’s going to happen. I know another individual, had the same symptom. Without a second thought runs off to the doctor, who prescribe some therapy, and, of course, pills. This takes up time that someone is going to have to pay for, that is all of us, all for something that I went to Walgreens, checked around, found something that goes around my foot and months later, still have not had the least problem with that.
Was playing basketball (bear in mind I’m in my fifties. I’m not some twenty -something smart guy) all of a sudden I just went down, my right calf seized up so badly and quickly I really thought I had done something really bad to the achilles. I realized it was a bad cramp and it wasn’t the first time I got cramps in my calf. I could have rushed off to get the medical attention that I am just so entitled to (he says sarcastically) or I could have used a little sense. The answer? Eat fruit, I started eating an apple before working out. This gives us a little hydration and minerals that support our muscles and keep them from cramping. By the grace of God, it’s been a year and I haven’t had any leg cramps whatsoever. In this case. an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Unless of course you go running off to the doctor.
Yea, I’m getting older, the sciatic on my right side was causing real pain and limiting mobility. Again this is something that is a common complaint of runners and bikers, I’m both. Instead of running for my all vitally important medical care and attention, I read that this is common and is the result of an imbalance in the conditioning of the muscles. Something doctors, who are frightfully ignorant of nutrition and conditioning would not deal with, “hey, just take a pain killer.” Yea, great unless you’re concerned about carcinogens and the affect these pills have on your heart, liver, kidneys and even pulmonary system. I start doing dead lifts, it’s been three months, no pain and much better mobility. Not because of pills or some treatment, but better conditioning. Well we can’t have that, now can we? No one really makes any money off of me if I do these things. Fact of the matter, I’m stronger, have better nutrition and can continue to be stronger without a lot of medical nonsense messing up my body.
As to conditioning and diet. I’m in my fifties, I continue to do short distance triathlons, I continue to train for them and other events. I continue to do weight training. I’m probably as strong as I was in my twenties. That is because while the normal aging process breaks down muscle, especially in a man, you can compensate for it by reasonable, regular exercise.
Now, of course comes more whining, but of a different nature. I can’t exercise. I’m too old, or not athletic enough. People will laugh at me, my dignity is all important. I have news for many of you. People are kind of laughing, behind your back, because you have become obese. You have diabetes, you make a joke out of the fact you couldn’t run around the block. You stuff whatever you want in your mouth without a second’s thought, because well you’re entitled to eat what you want, to have someone fix the damage you do (a very expensive and frankly not effective medical system) and, to top it off, to have someone else pay for all the attention you get. Frankly I’ve seen some people who crave the attention they get more than the treatment. You want attention? That’s what a church is for, your pastor is for, your brothers and sisters in Jesus are for. They will listen, they will empathize, they will try to help. Doctors and nurses etc try, but they’re not going to give you the attention your church family will and your church family is a whopping lot less expensive to all of us, then these new cathedrals of it’s all about me, usually referred to as health care facilities. We always make huge monuments to the things that we care most about. In this day and age, those monuments are hospitals and the new priesthood is doctors. Why? Because it’s all about me, make me feel better, give me attention.
People have to get real about conditioning. I’m not suggesting you do a triathlon. I’ve been swimming since I was six years old. I’ve been doing triathlons regularly for thirty years. You’re not going to be able to do what I do next week. However, anything you do proactively, starting now, will be a huge health benefit. Yes, go to a doctor and tell him/her that you want to quit fooling around and start living a strong life, not dependent on someone pushing pills on you and causing a myriad of other physical problems. The only thing a doctor can do is tell you whether or not you are able to do it, i.e. you don’t have a heart you’ve abused so long that it won’t fail if you raise your pulse about 80 beats per minutes.
Assuming that, then go to another professional, someone who can show you how to live life and not just take pills. I know what you’re still whining about. “I don’t want to look silly!” Yea, well that ship’s already sailed, maybe you want to start to actually feel and look a little better and quit fussing about your precious dignity. Now, even if you get a rudimentary idea of what to do, get up, go out to a gym and start devoting at least three/four days a week. “I don’t have the time.” Yea right, I’ve been getting up at 5am since I was in boot camp. Get up an hour earlier, pray, then do some exercise.
Again, get over your dignity and go to a gym. You might not like that others are there too, oh well. Those who are there are now brothers and sisters. They know what you’re going through, they’ve been there and they actually respect that you’re there. They respect you more than the average sloth who thinks he’s entitled to abuse his body and make the rest of us pay for it. if anything they will be happy to help, feel free to ask. If they do make a suggestion, they’re not doing it to make fun, they’re doing it because they care enough for you to not get hurt. If you let them, they may work out with you and give you some coaching. You know what? People pay big bucks for that kind of thing and the guy or woman next to you is giving you an immensely valuable gift. I’ve seen a few people in the weight room who obviously needed help. One younger kid was lifting weights wrong. I didn’t want him to hurt himself and I started giving him some direction. I may not be much of an athlete, but if I’ve been doing this for almost fifty years, am still in decent condition, can still finish a triathlon, am decent looking and without any, real, physical issues, I must be doing something right. I may not be doing it great, but I’d bet that I or someone else in that gym will help you, gratis, and do you far more good on a day to day basis then any doctor. You’re choice, but maybe it’s about time, a lot of people, again, got over themselves, stopped running off to the doctor, started eating reasonably, did some aerobic, resistance and flexibility training and all of a sudden they’re not a lump on a sofa. They are now a reasonably conditioned person, whose body feels better, who have a much better mental and emotional condition and, oh yea, because you got up earlier and did some praying, you’re feeling a much closer bond to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. And you’re also showing Him that you are caring for the great gift or your body and life that He gave you.
So put the phone down, do us all (except maybe the medical establishment) a big favor and resist the urge to run off to the doctor and start giving yourself the care you should have been doing since you were six years old. Or, the people who really matter, they’re not going to laugh at you, but they’re going to feel pity that someone could let themselves get into such a deplorable condition.