Tuesday, July 29, 2014

If You Want to Get Fit, Push Yourself!

Here's what people from nytimes are saying about getting fitter and getting healthier. 

My rule of thumb every time I complete a workout of any type--shirt needs to be covered in sweat, I need to stink and require shower immediately--if not, it wasn't a hard enough workout. This is what I call exercise. Most people I know, are just active. 

They go to the gym, fumble around a bit, swing their legs on the elliptical and call it good. Which is fine, but so much of it seems to be smart phone use, from what I presume is finding the right song or texting. Leave the WiFi devices home.

However any activity is better than none so can't be too judgmental.

I just recently read the "Sports Gene" by David Epstine, which explores how gene mapping has allowed scientists to focus on specific sections of human DNA related to certain athletic attributes. Mainly the book is a nature vs. nurture type of dialogue with evidence suggesting a constant interplay between the two, of course. 

However, for geneticists, this type of work is exciting. As for the general public, I wouldn't allow it to influence how we approach exercise too much; we all know that a semi rigorous workout for 20 minutes a day 3x a week is beneficial. If you can push yourself more, great! 

You're probably the one with the six pack, if not, well still, you may even be the 60 year capable of running 3 miles a day 7 days a week.

I keep looking for a an excuse to not work out harder

Some magic new study or six minute workout regimen that will allow me to not really workout yet gain all the benefits. Deep down I know that I really have to push myself very hard everyday to make fitness gains. That's just the way it is.

I used to run hard six days a week when I was younger, meaning ages 25-45. Was in terrific shape. Then slowly, insidiously, my knees started to hurt. I finally went to a sports medicine doctor who smiled knowingly and said he sees people like me all day--middle age fitness freaks with patellofemoral stress syndrome. 

 Also known as an overuse injury. End of running career. I have been swimming for exercise ever since. Keeps me in shape, but what a bore, lap after lap. 

Not the same as running over hill and dale, feeling the wind in your face and the sun on your back. I always wonder what might have been if I had run a little less, and a little slower. Maybe I would still be doing it.

Mark, I switched to bicycling 20 years ago and haven't looked back. Can still feel the wind in your face, new vistas around every bend--and lots less knee/back impact. Plus I use the bike instead of a car for all my around town outings, so there are added eco-benefits. 

Getting a decent road bike is a key--makes it much more enjoyable. I have a Specialized Allez--low-end, but good enough for my purposes.

I believe it is good to try to push yourself, but best way for me is exercise in service of some distracting task, like heavy-duty yard work.

Carrying bags of topsoil, pulling weeds, raking, but esp. chopping down invasive, non-native shrubs that destroy forest biodiversity......I tend to push myself past exhaustion and actually enjoy it. At a gym I'd be counting reps, waiting for an hour to be over and hating every minute of it. Outdoors I lose track of time, a whole afternoon might fly by and I have to force myself to quit.

Maybe the difference is the sense of accomplishment, or even higher calling, that makes service to a task not only endurable, but highly rewarding.
A lot of very useful and intelligent comments for this article - just a few of the ranters which is such a relief. My take away is that you have to vary your routine what ever it is and add some extra minutes or reps or position or laps or blocks or whatever it is that you do to stay fit from time to time if you want to experience the best fitness. 

You also have to take into account your age and health. An intense workout for a 60 year old is not the same as for an 18 year old. 

Those who try to draw some conclusion that this or that exercise type is better ("aerobics are the best, weight training for dumb bells") completely miss the point.  

There are many ways to exercise and they are all good for some people at some age some of the time and not good for others. I wrestle at 60 and do weight training. Do I say that is right for everyone? 

No, what's right has to be figured out by each person trying out different types of exercise. The important thing is to do something, to push yourself sometimes and vary your routine. Pretty basic really but worth repeating with some new scientific evidence.

We already knew that intense exercise is good for you, in humans. The goal of the study was to understand how it does so. Good comment about beta blockers. 

I don't think it has been well studied if they interfere with performance gains, but beta agonists, like clenbuterol, certainly are performance enhancing, thoug we didn't know why.

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