Everyone knows exercise is good for you

So why do we need to study it?

That is the response I got when I expressed an interest in studying exercise & breast cancer. I was also told “There’s no funding for exercise.”

When I’m given these sorts of answers, my reaction is generally to collect overwhelming evidence in favor of my position. There’s a good reason for this. All my opinions are thoroughly researched. If I don’t know much about a topic I do not have a strong opinion about it. So by the time I express interest in something I already know a lot about it. But knowing a lot about something doesn’t mean I can articulate it in a convincing manner. I collect references and citations for what I know and assemble them in a logical and persuasive argument.

If everyone knows exercise is good for them, why doesn’t everyone exercise? My initial thought was to overwhelm you with all the different ways exercise benefits you, and you will discover that you didn’t really know that exercise is good for you. But I haven’t done so well with making a note of the reports I come across, so I’ll try to collect that for a future post. This post contains a few examples.

Everyone knows exercise is good for us. Why do we need to study it? Everyone knows medicine is good for you. Should we not study dose, half-life, route of administration, and side effects of each and every drug? There are right ways and wrong ways to go about getting exercise. The trainers and professionals we encounter may not give good advice, partly because there’s inconsistent certification involved and partly because the studies aren’t there! I’ve discovered over the past few months that I’m good at injuring myself every time I try something new. That the advice I get is conflicting. Then look at some of the cultures built around different types of exercise, and the drugs (legal, illegal, and inadvisable) used to enhance performance.

So here are a few articles I’ve collected over the past few weeks, and I’ll continue to collect more and post summaries now and then.

Indoor cycling reduced migraines. Why should we study it any further? Migraine patients often avoid exercise. It may be a trigger. So we need to know what types of exercise are triggers and what kind is helpful. How much is helpful, how much is too much, how much is not enough. Sounds a little like dose, half-life, and route of administration!

More time spent sitting linked to higher risk of death; Risk found to be independent of physical activity level. This one’s been going around the ‘nets, at least the activity-focused corners of it that I frequent. Everyone’s like “all this exercise and it’s not doing jack??” The title is a bit misleading. Without having read the original article, here are two sentences in the Science Daily writeup that are telling: “The association remained virtually unchanged after adjusting for physical activity level” and yet “When combined with a lack of physical activity, the association was even stronger.” I’d need to read the original article to determine what was meant by physical activity level. Guidelines tend to say things like “30 minutes 3 times a week” which is practically nothing. If that was the cut-off, then I wouldn’t be at all surprised at the outcome.

More breaks from sitting are good for waistlines and hearts This is the natural answer to the previous article! In addition to “all that exercise” that you are doing, build physical activity into your day. And I can’t help but preach active transportation at this point. If walking or biking is how you get around no matter what, then on a day when you can justify skipping yoga or spinning, you still get a few minutes of walking or biking. I recall one day that I wasn’t feeling well so I “only” biked 8 miles that day. That is a ridiculously short amount of time to bike and I wouldn’t make an effort to bike 8 miles for exercise (which is not to say that it wouldn’t be an amazing accomplishment for some people, unfortunately it is not for me). But it means that even on my off days I still get 30 or 40 minutes of exercise. Instead of 30 minutes of exercise, 3 times a week, for me 30 minutes is the minimum daily exercise, and I have to make the extra effort to get an additional hour or so of exercise 3 (or 5 or 6) times a week.

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