Researchers uncover a puzzling “physical activity paradox”

As I always warn you, not all exercise is created equal. Some activities improve your health, whereas others can cause great harm.  

And now, a new study just found that engaging in THIS kind of exercise can actually increase your risk of suffering a major cardiac event by a staggering 35 percent. 

The researchers found the results so puzzling, they began calling it “the physical activity paradox.”  

But it all makes perfect sense to me. And it supports what real science already knows about the harsh realities—and limitations—of excessive exercise (or “excess-ercise,” as I call it)… 

Big differences between recreational and occupational exercise 

For this new study, researchers looked at the differences between recreational (during free time) and occupational (on the job) exercise among more than 100,000 men and women, ages 20 to 100 years, in Denmark. (In Denmark, since 1940, all people have been automatically registered in the national Danish patient and death database.) 

The researchers categorized the participants into four groups (low, moderate, high, or very high), according to their exercise rates during their free time and at work.  

Then, they tracked the participants for about 10 years.  

During that time, there were nearly 8,000 major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE), including fatal and non-fatal heart attacks and strokes. There were also nearly 10,000 deaths from causes not related to cardiovascular diseases. 

Well, it turns out, compared to those who engaged in low recreational exercise, those who engaged in moderate, high, or very high leisurely activity all reduced their MACE risk. But it’s important to note that a serious limit was also observed…because the benefits of very high (or excessive) exercise were actually 35 percent lower than the moderately high exercise group. 

Plus, get this… 

It appears the health benefits completely disappeared when the participants’ exercise occurred in the workplace! In fact, compared to those who engaged in low occupational exercise: 

  • Those who engaged in moderate occupational exercise increased their MACE risk by 4 percent.  
  • Those who engaged in high occupational exercise increased their MACE risk by 15 percent. 
  • Those who engaged in very high occupational exercise increased their MACE risk by a staggering 35 percent.  

Next, the researchers looked at the effect of exercise at work on all-cause mortality (death from any cause). 

Here again, compared to those who engaged in low exercise at work: 

  • Those who engaged in moderate exercise at work had increased all-cause mortality by 6 percent.  
  • Those who engaged in high exercise at work had increased all-cause mortality by 13 percent.  
  • And those who engaged in very high exercise at work had increased all-cause mortality by 27 percent 

Of course, we’ve known for a long time that certain kinds of physical labor at work can cause harm. Especially when it’s excessive. (I always warn against “excess-ercise” in ALL settings.) 

It also makes sense that even moderate workplace exercise can harm—not help—health…  

For one, workplace exercise doesn’t help you reduce stress, the No. 1 cause of high blood pressure. By comparison, recreational exercise—such as swimming in the ocean or taking a walk in the woods during your free time—does help you reduce stress. (Tune back in on Thursday for another natural way to reduce high blood pressure.)  

Second, workplace exercise tends to be repetitive and static. And it’s associated with fatigue, insufficient recovery, elevated blood pressure, and elevated heart rate. (Similar to pounding away, doing the same repetitive exercises day after day at the gym or on a treadmill.) 

Third, some scientists think that the monotonous, repetitive activities performed at many manual labor jobs typically don’t benefit your heart rate and cardiovascular fitness. (Again, by comparison, leisure-time exercises, like swimming and hiking, get your heart pumping harder for shorter durations.) 

In an interview, Richard Josephson, M.D., of Case Western Reserve University Hospitals in Cleveland, summed it up when he said, “You shouldn’t come home from the factory and say: I was just working all day [so] there’s no need for me to take a walk outside, there’s no need for me to play sports on the weekend.” 

Four steps to an active, healthy lifestyle 

In the end, regardless of how much (or how little) physical activity you perform at work, my advice remains the same…

Try to get 2.5 hours of light-to-moderate exercise each week during your leisure time. That breaks down to about just 20 minutes per day! Here are some other helpful tips to get the most out of your healthy activities: 

1.) Mix it up. Studies show that people who engage in a variety of exercises (during their free time) tend to stick with it more consistently. Plus, you want to avoid repeating the same physical motions monotonously—like running around in circles or pumping iron on a mechanical contraption. In my view, these repetitive approaches are detrimental. And mindless repetition certainly isn’t how one naturally moves in Nature, as pointed out by Erwan Le Corre, the “modern-day Tarzan,” and other movement experts.  

2.) Prioritize outdoor Nature hikes over indoor gym workouts. I always encourage you to forego the expensive gym memberships and just exercise out in Nature. For one, it’s gentler on your joints. Second, it exposes you to sunshine, which triggers your body’s own natural production of lifesaving vitamin D, and naturally lowers blood pressure. Third, it will save you money and reduce your potential exposure to germs, including the coronavirus. Fourth, and just as important, it’s great for your mental health as it helps reduce stress and increases your sense of well-being!  

3.) Housework and yardwork count toward your total. Many previous studies show that even engaging in light housework and yardwork count toward your weekly exercise totals. In fact, you can get plenty of weekly exercise working around the house and the yard. And thanks to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic panic, your garden (and the resulting view) should be looking better than ever!  

4.) Make it social. Studies show social isolation affects your risk of developing many chronic diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, Type II diabetes, and even premature death. So, why not engage in some healthy exercise with a buddy? They even have walking clubs that you can join to regularly connect with your community.  

For additional ways to help safeguard your heart, check out my Heart Attack Prevention and Repair Protocol. To learn more about this comprehensive, online learning tool—which provides a natural, heart-healing pathway to low blood pressure, never taking a dangerous heart medication, and more—or to enroll today, simply click here now! 


“The physical activity paradox in cardiovascular disease and all-cause mortality: the contemporary Copenhagen General Population Study with 104 046 adults.” European Heart Journal, 2021; 42(15): 1499–1511.