Nineteenth-century French author, Alexandre Dumas (The Three Musketeers and Twenty Years After), once said, “Nothing succeeds like success.” At the beginning of the 20th century, British author Oscar Wilde, responded with, “Moderation is a fatal thing. Nothing succeeds like excess,” — perhaps a suitable quote for that century.
As I have been saying for 20 years, science shows there’s nothing successful about excessive exercise. In all matters related to your health, moderation is key.
The fitness industry promotes excessive exercise— which includes ridiculously overpriced, overhyped health gear because it’s profitable for them. And they deride sensible people who only exercise on weekends, calling them “weekend warriors.”
For decades, so-called “health experts” warned us against this kind of “irregular” exercise. They said exercising only a few times a week (or whenever you could ) would lead to muscle strain and heart attacks. Worse yet, they said you wouldn’t derive any health benefits.
But a new study in JAMA Internal Medicine shows that their “expert” advice was just plain wrong. Turns out, people who exercise a minimal amount each week actually reap big rewards.
Minimal weekly exercise significantly lowers mortality rate
For this study, researchers followed 63,000 adults in the U.K. for about 20 years. The participants’ average age at the study’s outset was 58 years.
Those who only worked out once or twice a week (totaling to approximately two and a half hours of exercise) had a 30 percent lower mortality rate compared to those who didn’t exercise at all.
It got even more interesting when researchers looked at the results of a group they labeled “insufficient” exercisers (totaling to one hour of exercise per week). They had a 31 percent lower mortality rate compared to those who didn’t exercise at all. That rate’s even better than the group who worked out two and a half hours per week!
So — what about those who exercised three or more times per week (totaling to about seven and a half hours)? They had a 35 percent lower mortality risk compared to non-exercisers. That’s nearly an entire work day of exercise!
That’s only a four percent improvement over the one hour per week group. Or about one-half of one percent for each extra hour.
Just 11 percent of participants followed the experts’ “guidelines” for regular exercise of three or more days per week, which we now know might be deemed excessive in terms of the cost-gain ratio.
So — what good are guidelines when they’re incorrect? Or when the vast majority of people don’t (or won’t) follow them?
It reminds me of the ridiculous low-salt guidelines promulgated by the U.S. government. Government health experts complained that less than 0.1 percent of the U.S. population (fewer than one in one thousand people) would follow the low-salt guidelines.
But, it turns out, that low achievement was actually a good thing. For one, the science shows restricting salt to government-recommended levels doesn’t benefit your health. Second, “too much” salt will not hurt you but not getting enough certainly will.
Speaking of salt, I give you all the details about exactly how much you should strive to consume in this month’s Insiders’ Cures newsletter (subscribers can access the August 2017 issue online at www.drmicozzi.com with your username and password).
So — what should you do when it comes to working out?
For one, get outdoors and exercise in nature with the sun shining on your skin. Soak up some vitamin D — it’s crucial for good health.
Second, don’t worry about the daily grind. Just make sure to get a total of two and a half hours per week of moderate exercise (like walking) or one hour with more strenuous exercise.
More than that amount won’t help your health or longevity, according to this study. But it will increase your risk of injury. It will also put a strain on your joints, heart, kidneys, and GI tract, according to the latest research.
“Association of ‘Weekend Warrior’ and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause, Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality,” JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(3):335-342