FEATURE — It’s probably wise to be moderate in all things. We should be like Goldilocks and avoid the extremes, one way or the other, and find that sweet spot where things are just right.
But what about things that are seemingly so good for us?
Really, can you have too much love in your life? Can you have too much money? Too much money may be debatable. What about exercise? If it’s so good for us, can we ever do too much? If 30 minutes of running is good, wouldn’t 60 minutes be better and 90 minutes even better than that? Heck, shouldn’t we all be running marathons? Not so, according to some recent research.
In a report published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology researchers from Denmark say that people who push their bodies too hard may essentially undo the benefits of exercise. Those who ran at a fast pace more than four hours a week for more than three days a week had about the same risk of dying during the study’s 12-year follow-up as those who were sedentary and hardly exercised at all. The link held even after the researchers accounted for potentially confounding factors such as age, sex, whether the participants had a history of heart disease or diabetes or whether they smoked and drank alcohol.
What the researchers found was that both too little running and too much running are linked to higher rates of death. The most intense runners ended up with a risk of dying that was similar to that of those who opted to stay on the couch. They concluded that somewhere in between is the Goldilocks amount that’s just right to maintain heart health, burn off excess calories and keep blood sugar levels under control. And, according to the results, that sweet spot is closer to the “less” side of the curve than the “more” side.
Bringing up this research is not meant to discourage those on the higher intensity end of the exercise spectrum. Rather, the message is to encourage the rest of us, the majority of us, who don’t exercise as much as we should, that we don’t have to run until we drop, bicycle across the country or spend hours in the gym to get just as much if not more benefit from exercise as those that do.
So get moving, find that Goldilocks amount of exercise that is not too much, not too little but just right.
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Written by Darren Marchant.
Darren Marchant is a licensed physical therapist and CEO and founder of Fit Physical Therapy with clinics in St. George and in Mesquite and Overton, Nevada. He is board certified as an orthopedic clinical specialist. For other helpful articles or clinic information visit fit-pt.com.