Tag Archives: conditioning

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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Do all to the glory of God

This is a subject that is near and dear to my heart. I have not always been a Christian. So when I discuss this, it’s not from the perspective, “well that’s what Christians do their whole lives”. I’ve been involved in athletics pretty much all my life. I was on and off swim teams since I was about 8 years old. I played football from when I was eleven years old until I was seventeen. I worked at the local YMCA where I played basketball, racquetball, weights, and other stuff here and there. I’ve stayed active for the last 40 odd years mostly training and participating in triathlons, also kickboxing and a little basketball mixed in. If anyone can get me into to a racquetball regular game, I’d love it if someone could hook me up with a regular racquetball game again.

Having said all that, yes, it’s been a regular part of my life. And frankly, while I do try, I’ve never been good at anything. It was necessary, serving in the Coast Guard Reserve, my job was operational. I had to stay in condition, because I could be called on at any time to be involved in very physically strenuous situations. So yes, I’ve had a reason to stay active for a long time and it’s been an important part of my life. It really drags me down when I don’t keep up a regular routine. So who knows, maybe I need those endorphins, dopamine etc in order to feel good. But as I grew as a Christian and have become a pastor, I’ve realized that we do have a responsibility to maintain the body God gave us and to especially not abuse it. Now believe me, I’m not any “George Gorgeous”, if you saw me I look pretty much of a dumpy old guy. But… a year ago, I did get a stress test done because of a minor issue. The technician asked me if I worked out because she could see it on the results I was producing and when the doctor looked at my results, he pretty much told me to “get outta here, you’re wasting my time”.

Having said all this, in no way shape or manner am I saying that to be a “good Christian” you need to be in great shape. It’s not a works thing, but in my continual discussion about our “relationship” with Jesus, He gave us our body, mind, everything we have. Don’t most of us want to be in good shape and look good for our spouse, SO? Don’t we want to feel good, have energy, all the benefits of good health? The better we maintain ourselves, the better we serve our Savior, our family, our brothers and sisters in Jesus, the church etc. So don’t we serve and relate better to everyone involved when we do the best we can to maintain ourselves?

Now, IN NO WAY SHAPE FORM OR MANNER, am I saying that you can only be a good Christian if you’re in good physical condition, you’re all pretty and photogenic and all that stuff. Too many “churches” have some need to be all pretty and everyone associated all pretty, that is straight out phoney, hollow and misguided. It’s sort of in the sense of the “cool kids” table in high school. No that’s unacceptable in a Christian church. We need churches that are authentic, phoniness in the church is killing the church and is leaving too many others to die without Jesus. I’ve known plenty of great saints who could barely lift themselves, no less a dumbbell. And believe me I have my own issues that need to be dealt with, I’m not trying to sell that I’m perfect. What I am trying to say is that we still strive to be the best we can with what God gives us. There is way too much mediocrity, and excuses out there. We are called to be perfect as our Father is perfect. Let’s do what we can to strive for that goal, but accepting that no matter what, all of us will fall short and most (like me), miserably so.

An article in Christianity Today (June 2013 pp 39-43) discussing this very subject and I think is a really good perspective. One beef I do have with many Christians is their ability to phoney themselves, their church, their lives in general up. Which certainly does not enhance our witness in the world and refers back to my “cool kids table”. If you’re a Christian and concerned about being part of the “cool kids”, you are already way off track. The world is phoney beyond all question. Why do we keep trying to emulate the world? The church has to be authentic, warts, chubby pastors (like me), lack of talent, but authentic, faithful disciples of Jesus Christ.

Leslie Leyland Fields makes some great points and does sternly caution against a wrongheaded approach to encouraging all that God’s given us. We should be strong in mind, body and spirit. Doesn’t always work out that way, sometimes due to circumstances beyond our control But we should work on what is in our control, not because it makes us better, but frankly makes us a better witness to Christ. Ms Fields quotes Charlie Shedd: “…if our bodies are to be [or already are] temples of the Holy Spirit, we had best get them down to the size God intended.” Fair enough.

“PraiseMoves cites 1 Corinthians 6: 19-20 as its foundational verses: ‘Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies.’ … Many in the faith and wellness movement cite the apostle Paul: ‘Whether you eat or drink, do all to the glory of God.”

I really like Ms Fields point: “…outside the church, it challenges the prevailing notion that our bodies belong to us alone – either as machines to be hacked and fueled, or as ‘plastic’ to be reshaped, starved, pierced and used for pleasure or vanity. and inside the church, it challenges the dualistic worldview that God cares only about ‘spiritual’ matters.”

To be sure, as Ms Fields points out, we do not become stupid, obsessive and phoney over the subject of physical fitness and conditioning. We do it with intelligence, planning, something that we will benefit from on many levels. With the mind-set of serving God, that we want to build our relationship with Him, that we want to serve our family, fellow Christians, our church to the best of our ability and this is one way to do it. Realizing that regardless of our physical condition we are to always serve the Lord and the Body of Christ. But to quote Nike “just do it”. How about a church filled with people who do strive, who do want to bless each other, who are spiritually, mentally and physically doing their best in order to disciple others to strive to be their best for Christ who gave us His best.

Be the well-rounded person God gave you the opportunity to be

Just finished my Saturday workout, usually consists of about an hour of weights or an hour plus of bike riding. Usually when it comes up in discussion, the other person will say something like, I wouldn’t do that, sounds like too much work, or I couldn’t bike 3 miles, and it’s not with an attitude of, “Gee maybe I should be in better shape and try to do something”. It’s more of an attitude on their part that they’re proud they don’t “waste” their time, what’s the point. As if they’re somehow smarter by not getting some genuine exercise.
A lot of people will also give me an attitude that if they can’t be a great athlete well what’s the point. I am by no means a “great”, good, even mediocre athlete. Any competitions I enter, I’m usually a “back of the packer”, but by the same token, I am keeping in shape, I am doing things that keep me in better physical condition. The big topics today are obesity, diabetes is an epidemic, stress, lethargy, depression, all things that a decent amount of exercise would greatly help. It’s getting to the point where I can’t go a day without meeting someone who is obviously over weight and tells me they have diabetes. They talk as if they have been somehow victimized and they should be able to do whatever they want with whatever they want. Furthermore, the things that people put in their bodies that are illegal and what do we as a society do? We continue to legalize marijuana. Seriously is there a doubt in anyone’s mind that the widespread use of illegal substances, not to mention a lot of the junk we consume isn’t resulting in damage to ourselves that we are passing on to our children? ADD the all encompassing answer to everyone’s inability to do anything (although just watch how rapt their attention is when they’re playing computer games or watching a movie they like). I’m sure that in a lot of circumstances autism that has also become widespread is a result of a lot of illicit drug use. I’m not trying to be cruel, but those same people who are always so concerned with their secular “truth”, sure find ways to distort the truth of the things they do that are just not responsible ways to act.
Cut to the chase, as we progress there will be more and more demand for medical attention for conditions that we could have controlled by taking just a little responsibility in our lives. Some reasonable exercise would do everyone a great deal of good.
And parents let’s cut the baloney, making sure your kid goes to baseball, soccer, games sorry, those are just not conditioning programs. Those programs are just not designed for children’s physical fitness. There is just way too much adult ego, vicarious living and need to maintain control. There’s just not enough ‘let’s get out there as kids, run until we drop, help each other, learn, on our own, to be part of a team and enjoy what should be the beginning of life long good habits.
Let’s help our kids develop good habits by being good examples and being out there with them doing real exercise. Sorry but a kid playing right field is never going to get their heart rate up to any level for any time that’s going to do him or her the least amount of good.
Don’t count on government or the medical institution to save you, and I think that realization is slowly beginning to dawn on people. But realizing it isn’t going to do you any good when you’re 55 years old, obese, diabetic and have messed up your joints by carrying around far too many pounds for your joints to support. I can certainly see a time coming that because the medical establishment is becoming so ill-equipped to deal with all of this, that they will stop even trying to treat those who have spent their lives chain-swilling twinkies. Or they will turn you away because you abused your body with drugs and now your children have serious problems because of it.
I know, I can hear it “I have the right! It’s my body, to…” yada, yada. Ya, not really. You certainly didn’t “make” your body, and for those who would use this line of discussion they haven’t done anything to make their body better, they’ve just abused it, poor diet, booze, drugs, irresponsible sex, lack of exercise. So you can’t say you’re responsible for caring and nurturing your body. you expect to abuse it and have someone else take care of you. That’s just not realistic. God gave you the capacity to have a remarkable body and life with it, if you abuse what God’s done for you. If you don’t work to make your body stronger and more able, you have abused the gift you’ve been given.
So take some responsibility now, come on down to First St Johns and learn good aerobic and strength building exercises. And while your there you might also avail yourself of the opportunity to strengthen your spiritual life. To become that well-rounded person that God gave you the capacity to be.