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Disclaimer: We're not doctors or health care practitioners.   The statements made here are only our views and opinions and should not be taken as a substitute for qualified medical advice.  Consult with your doctor or health care provider before starting any regimen mentioned here.

   

        Why is long-term cardio bad for you?

We all have been told that we need to exercise to be healthy.  Unfortunately, just like with the diet, conventional wisdom about exercise has been wrong.  The AHA recommends that those who are attempting to lose weight or to keep lost weight from coming back may need to exercise for                 60 to 90 minutes a day.  No wonder we are getting fatter and fatter.  It's practically impossible for most people to exercise that much. 

Not only it is unnecessary for health and weight loss, chronic cardio is unhealthy in the long term.  A carbohydrate-fueled high-intensity aerobic lifestyle promotes a dangerous level of continuous inflammation, increases oxidative damage and raises your stress hormone, cortisol, while severely suppressing other parts of your immune system.

We did not evolve to run long distances.  There’s also some evidence that running marathons may promote – rather than prevent – heart disease.   According to this study performed on 108 active marathon runners and 108 age-matched controls without history of heart disease,  "frequent marathon running seems to correlate with subclinical myocardial damage".  You might be surprised to learn that the marathon runners were three times more likely to have heart damage than the non-runners. 


So why do more if you can achieve the same benefit with less time and less wear and tear on the body?

It's not the quantity, it's the quality that matters.  Why do more if you can do less to achieve the same results?  There's a growing body of research to support the health benefits of HIIT - High Intensity Interval Training Workouts.  For example, according to the Science News, a new study, published in The Journal of Physiology, shows that short bursts of very intense exercise — equivalent to only a few minutes per day — can produce the same results as traditional endurance training.  They found that six 30 seconds bursts of "all out" cycling separated by 4 minutes of recovery during each training session, produces the same results as 90-120 minutes of continuous moderate-intensity cycling each day. 

According to another study, women doing HIIT had lost three times more body fat than the women in the continuous exercise group.  Also, another study says "High-intensity interval training induces skeletal muscle metabolic and performance adaptations that resemble traditional endurance training despite a low total exercise volume".  

In his highly-recomended book on high-intensity strength training, Body By Science, Dr. Doug McGuff explains in great details why high-intensity training is superior to chronic cardio.

Exersise myths


Another important point we need to make is there is practically no way to lose belly fat doing crunches or other stomach exercises.  The only non-surgical way to get six-packs is to reduce your overall % of body fat.  This is a great site that explains how you can measure your body fat %.  The best way to lose fat, in addition to the diet, is to increase your metabolism by adding more muscles to your body, since muscle burns three times more calories than fat.  Excessive cardio does exactly the opposite, by increasing your cortisol production it contributes to muscle catabolism.  How many big, muscular marathon runners have you seen? 

Here is a great link relating to body composition.
 
Another myth that needs to be addressed is that women avoid lifting heavy weights because they are afraid of getting big and bulky.  You will get toned, but you will not look like female bodybuilders unless you are abusing hormones and steroids or have a rare genetic abnormality (and even then, you are not going to blow up overnight, so you will have time to stop).   In addition, women tend to lose more muscle as they age, so lifting weights is important to maintain muscles mass. 
     
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The Easy Workout
                           
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The Easy Workout
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