Reversing A Nation's Misconception - ''Aerobic exercise is the healthiest way. . . . .''

With 2012 London Marathon taking place a matter of hours ago, I felt an article on prolonged aerobic exercise was necessary – and unfortunately
my tone won’t be as upbeat as the media’s. Before, let me debunk any
suggestions that I think the people who completed the London Marathon are not
anything other than heroic because they are. The level of fitness to complete
that, even at snail speed is mind blowing and we should all acknowledge that. My
beef is  not with these ultimate
athletes, my concern lies within the widespread mind-set that prolonged aerobic
exercises means your ‘fit’ which means you’re a ‘healthy’ person.

Indulge me for 10 minutes and let me expand on that last statement - My beef is  not with these ultimate athletes, my concern lies within the widespread mind-set that prolonged aerobic exercises means your ‘fit’ which means you’re a ‘healthy’

Whenever you read an article from some clueless writer at
your typical glossy magazine publication they will more often than not harp on
about aerobic exercise, as will your typical ‘’institutionalised’’ gym

First of all to say someone is ‘fit’ is complete and utter
cobblers – instead you should say somebody is ‘fit for purpose’ which means
their body composition, muscle capacity and cardiac capacity is suited to their
chosen discipline. You will find these same numpties slate the likes of world
strong men as ‘’not being fit’’ yet these athletes haul mammoth like poundages continuously
– your telling me that isn’t ‘’fit’’? Of course it is, at its best!

The point is, I do not think aerobic endurance should be the
yardstick to measure somebody’s health and fitness because that is not only disrespectful
to other athletes, it is purely inaccurate.

Prolonged aerobic exercise can be harmful for the following
reasons –

Studies have shown it can induce cardiac disease
as you age

It can cause Cortisol levels to go through the
roof, potentially causing weight/health issues

Joint and connective tissue health can suffer

Many people do not have the correct biomechanical
balance to perform prolonged aerobic endurance in a safe manner

Fast twitch fibre mass decreases, leading to
lower levels of strength within the muscle

With those alarming points outlined, I just want to reassure
you I do believe some cardio is very beneficial. What I don’t believe in is the
constant prescription of aerobic exercise week on week, month after month
unless you are specifically training for a sport of this nature which is not relevant
to the point of this article.

The Solution?

To those of you who want to enhance your overall health and
body composition I would recommend resistance training several times a week. Studies
have shown that overall health and wellbeing can be enhanced via this method with
optimised hormone balance, stronger joints and the ability to burn more
calories. Just because you are not running on a treadmill for 45 minutes does
mean using weights is not aerobically taxing because it is – VERY in fact when
you apply the correct training principles!

About the Author

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  • Deb B

    Great article. I enjoy a challenge and so four years ago i took up distance running. I had always hated athletics at school, but suddenly about to turn 40, i got the running bug. I entered a few 10k races and thought hey, why not try a marathon? I trained hard, got a place in the race and ran it comfortably. However, as a result of all the running i developed severe anaemia, terrible skin problems and my body had taken on an emaciated look. Therein my marathon days were over. I now to resistance training, and i do one 3/4 mike run per week to keep my hand in. I still enjoy the free feeling of running outdoors, the fresh air, breaking a sweat, but i agree that the longer endurance runs can be seriously detrimental to health.

  • Deb B

    I just want to add to my last comment that since i have been lifting heavy weights, my body looks much better as the muscle mass gives curviture. Whereas with the running i just looked very thin, gaunt and ill. Both ways, i have/had low body fat and a lean look, but one (running) wasnt very aesthetically pleasing wheras the reistance training figure i have achieved it much better to look at. And i am much healthier (fitter?)

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