1. Torture de France
2. Breathing training
3. Incredible eating
4. Exercise: Healthy for you and me?
We may not be able to finish a marathon like
this guy, but longer life sounds good to us. We'll start first thing
Monday morning...really. Photo: The
City of New York
In 2000, a competitve wheelchair division
was formed for athletes participating in the New York City Marathon.
New York City Sports Commission
not training for the Ironman, the Olympic marathon, or the Tour de France. You're
are training for life. Does this biz about endurance training have
any relevance to you?
No, and yes.
No, you don't need to carbo-load to walk a couple of miles, or gorge
on fats to ride a dozen. Yes, because more exercise is healthier
than less exercise.
One of the primary beneficiaries of exercise
is the heart. Endurance training "Makes the heart stronger," says
Timothy Hacker, an assistant scientist in the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Medical School. "It's no different than lifting weights, if you
lift with the biceps, the biceps get stronger."
And you may want a strong heart even if you don't plan to ascend Mont Ventoux or the short, steep hills of Dane County, Wis. An exercise-toned heart gains protection from the inevitable slings and arrows of outrageous aging, says Hacker, a former middle-distance runner who studies exercise and cardiovascular physiology. If an artery gets narrow or gets clotted, "your heart will be more able to withstand it."
benefits originate elsewhere. "The biggest benefit of exercise,
probably, comes from what happens in the rest of the body," Hacker
says. Exercise reduce stress, which may trigger heart attacks through
spasms of heart arteries. It increases "good" HDL cholesterol and
reduces "bad" LDL cholesterol, both of which slow the hardening
and narrowing of the arteries. "Exercise can keep your arteries
looking younger, by altering lipid profiles," says Hacker.
We could natter on about the benefits of exercise,
but since we taxpayers have already paid the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention to natter thusly, let's reprint part of their
Reduces the risk of dying prematurely.
Reduces the risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure and
Reduces feelings of depression and anxiety.
Helps control weight.
Helps build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints.
older adults become stronger and better able to move without falling.
Promotes psychological well-being.
So you're convinced. Next year, you'll ride the
Tour de France or the Furnace
Creek 508 [mile] bike race, just to get in shape and cut your
chance of dying.
All of these people are in the know –
physical activity is the key to a healthy lifestyle! Photo:
New York City Sports Commission
Actually, you can get these benefits without
emulating Lance, Tyler Hamilton and others giants of the saddle.
But how much exercise, exactly, is enough? Here, Hacker says, the
accepted wisdom has oscillated like a pendulum that "swings from
side to side and eventually settles at the center," he says.
At one time, Hacker says, the adage was "no
pain, no gain."
But the reality is more comforting, he says.
"If you can do something every single day, that's the ideal, even
if it's only for 10 to 15 minutes. If it's only walking, that's
great, if you can do more, that's better."
If you divide Americans into five groups according
to the calories they burn each week, the most sedentary 20 percent
have the greatest chance of dying, Hacker says. But the biggest
increase in longevity occurs when you jump into the next-higher
activity category, which leads Hacker to conclude, "Anything is
better than nothing."
Much to the relief of those who would rather
not "enjoy" a 250-mile bike ride on a summer Saturday, Mazzeo, a
physiologist at the University of Colorado, agrees, "The average
person does not have to train like a madman, like a triathete, to
get the benefits in terms of aging."
You don't have to read like a madwoman
to get the benefits of our bibliography.