Sunday, 6 June 2021

Workout myths

I've never been to a gym in my life, except for my school gym. As I get older, I think maybe I should be going to a gym regularly to keep myself fit and healthy, but I never do. Mainly because there's no reputable gym in my immediate neighbourhood, but also because using a gym sounds incredibly boring and unenjoyable.

So I was glad to see an exercise expert saying that actually intensive exercise and gym workouts aren't as essential as people make out, and ordinary everyday levels of physical activity are quite enough to keep us fit.

Daniel Lieberman, a Harvard professor, lists ten myths about workouts that need to be demolished. He says deliberate intensive exercise is a very modern activity our ancestors never bothered with. They only exercised when it was necessary or rewarding. "No one in the stone age ever went for a five-mile jog to stave off decrepitude, or lifted weights whose sole purpose was to be lifted."

He says it's not true that our remote ancestors were super-strong and super-fast and we need gym workouts to bring us to the same level of fitness. They were fit enough for a few hours hunting and gathering a day but that was it. They sat around just as much as we do. He says sitting is fine as long as you alternate it with other activities.

Well, that makes me feel a lot better about my fairly minimal activity level - doing the household chores, doing a bit of gardening, taking my daily walk, occasionally running for the bus. It seems that's quite sufficient without labouring away in a gym or running marathons.

So there's no need to demonise the sofa.

27 comments:

  1. Depends on your daily activity is my thought as the devil's advocate. I actually enjoy exercise but I agree the 5 mile runs and marathons are more hobbies than health improvements.

    Most of my exercise now is working in my yard. I'm putting up an above ground pool in that it is nice to lounge in. The only serious calisthenics I do is that I deliberately get on the floor and get up at least once a day. I know too many who have lost that ability. But in the back of my mind, I think when that ability is lost it will be lost to father time regardless of my intent.

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    1. Ann: I do some weekly leg exercises to strengthen my leg muscles and avoid falls, but that's it. I don't have any trouble getting on the floor and up again. But yes, father time will be the ultimate decider of my fitness levels.

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  2. I exercise at least an hour a day and do it while streaming interesting videos. It makes me and my doctor happy.

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    1. Jean: An hour's exercise daily, that's very impressive. And it does seem to help you stay fit.

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  3. if I did Anything regularly it would be Yoga.
    the yogis believe that we are only as young as our spines are flexible.
    so it may be true.
    now if I could just go back to doing it Regularly!
    instead of when I feel like it. :D
    here... physical fitness is almost a God of sorts.
    and like all strange fitness regimes ... now you must have a Mirror that talks back to you! LOL.
    it's Kardashian Country doncha'know.
    YUK.

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    1. Tammy: My spine isn't very flexible these days. I have to be very careful how I bend and unbend to avoid seizing something! Physical fitness has become a big thing in the UK too. Adverts are full of people in exercise clothing, as if they're just off to the gym or off to start a five-mile jog.

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  4. As a child I walked to and from school and played on weekends. As a teenager I took a job that required a fair amount of walking. When I stopped walking regularly I gained about 3 pounds a year. For 40 years! I went from skinny to obese without any effort at all.

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    1. Linda: Presumably it was a combination of not walking regularly and eating more than your body needed for a less active lifestyle.

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  5. I have mixed feelings about this. I do agree that strenuous workouts are not necessary, and sometimes detrimental. However, our ancestors walked a LOT and were much more active because there were zero modern conveniences. I mean, just walking to get water and carry it was a work out. I don’t believe that they were sitting around.

    I do think that poor diets are worse than being sedentary for most.

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    1. Bijoux: Yes, probably our ancestors walked more than we do now. And even more recent generations walked more. When I grew up there were hardly any cars and people walked all the time. I always walked to and from school, there was no such thing as parents dropping off their kids at school.

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    1. Fly: Oh yes, that well-known elbow exercise, conveying chocolates to mouth....

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  7. Welcome to the club of Couch Potatoes.

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    1. Ramana: I'm not exactly a couch potato. I can't sit for longer than half an hour, so I'm always moving around the house and garden.

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  8. I was a runner - well jogger, a slow runner anyway up to a few years back when ill health claimed me out of the blue so to speak.

    I miss it more than I can say. Apart from exercise I found it meditative and soothing.

    Gyms? never for me.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. www: It's sad that you had to give up jogging, when you enjoyed it so much.

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  9. I walk 3-4 miles every day, even when the weather is grim. Get a dog, you'll be fine.
    Sx

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    1. Ms Scarlet: I've never had a yen for a pet, so I'll rule out the dog walking. But I often go that far anyway on my daily walk.

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  10. I've only been to the high school gym too.

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    1. Mary: It wasn't even much fun at that age either. But I quite liked climbing the ropes.

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  11. That makes me feel better too Nick, I was starting to think I spend way too much time on the sofa! I've always been active and into sports, fitness classes, yoga, cycling, and, in later life visiting a gym. I did fairly low impact stuff (except when training for a trek). It was important to me and I'm sure it helped to keep me fit and healthy. The only exercise I do now is ten minutes Jo Wicks, gardening and walking the dog most days.

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    1. Polly: I think gardening and walking are good exercise. I used to cycle a lot in my teens, but I'd be nervous about cycling now when I'd have to compete with speeding motorists and huge lorries with blind spots.

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    2. I loved cycling, but like you I'm nervous about the traffic.

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  12. Don't forget that our ancestors, for the most part, had much shorter life spans and life expectancies.

    If I don't get regular exercise, I find my endurance suffers and it's harder to do the things we like to do when we travel. We belonged to a gym for nearly 30 years though our use of the facility varied over that time. After it closed a year ago due to COVID, we bought a treadmill. We planned to go back to the gym when it reopened, but the hospital system that owns it decided to make the closure permanent.

    I'm averaging about 4 miles a day. Yesterday I did 8. I watch movies and TV shows on my iPad when I'm walking. We're going soon on a vacation to Colorado where we plan to do a bit of hiking.

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    1. Mike: A good point that our ancestors didn't live very long, though I think that was more because of lethal diseases that weren't curable than because they weren't physically fit.

      I haven't noticed any reduced stamina when I'm travelling, though I haven't done any travelling since late 2019. Things might have changed since then, especially as I'm now prone to a bit of back pain.

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  13. And now, Daniel Lieberman, is my new favorite person, Nick. I do go to the in house gym several times a week but only use a few of the available "machines" like the elliptical and treadmill. That said, I do a lot of walking and thankfully we live near a downtown area and walks to the library, pharmacy, post office and the like are done rather than taking the car out.

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    1. Beatrice: Yes, it's good exercise if all your daily needs are catered for nearby and you can walk to whatever you need without having to take the car.

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