Exercise Guidelines Revisited

Workout of the Day--October 9, 2015

3 Rounds for time of:
200m run
15 Power Snatch 135/95
200m run
15 Strict pull-ups
200m run
15 Front Squats 135/95

 
 

Exercise Guidelines Revisited

Thanks to Graeme for forwarding me the Washington Post article that inspired this post. The article and link to it are here: New study says 30 minutes of exercise a day is not enough. You should double or quadruple that.

A study was published this week in the journal Circulation (worth noting this is not Vanity Fair or Men's Health; actually a journal by and for cardiologists) which suggests that the American Heart Association (AHA) should revise its long-held recommendation of 30 minutes of exercise per day. On the surface, this is an interesting finding. Basically we can further reduce our cardiac risk factors by exercising more. But upon digging deeper, there is more to the story. As we all know, there are multiple variables in how effective an exercise session is. For example, 30 minutes of brisk walking is very different than 30 minutes of 400M runs, thrusters, and box jumps. My point here is that the intensity of your exercise regimen matters.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notes that one minute of vigorous activity is about the same as two minutes of moderate activity.

While this idea gets a cursory mention in the article, I would like to see this message more broadly disseminated as I believe it is key to making exercise actually matter. Our schedules and our lives are full. Doubling or tripling the time that we are exercising is not an option for many, if not most of us. There are also downsides to prolonged low intensity exercise such as boredom and overuse injuries that often lead to athletes just giving up. HIgh intensity exercise is hard and uncomfortable; but the health and fitness benefits cannot be matched by any amount of low to moderate intensity exercise. 

I believe that this is one of the reasons that CrossFit has exploded. First, the exercise program delivers results: improved health markers, improved body composition, increased levels of fitness. But few are able to stick with a program like this on their own. The support of a coach, a community and the concept of being part of a team make it possible to continue the discipline of high intensity exercise...even when it is uncomfortable. Finally, ceding control of designing your training routines to a coach forces variability in your workouts and challenges your body to adapt to different types of work on a daily basis.

While I don't expect to see the American Heart Association come out in support of CrossFit anytime soon, I do hope that studies like this one about get people thinking about how effective their exercise regimen actually is.