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Tuesday, April 24. 2018
What good is walking or jogging? Or other aerobic activities?
Since it was a bit of a hiking weekend, I decided to consider the topic from a health and fitness standpoint rather than from a fun and adventure standpoint. What I will say generally applies to all aerobic activities (ie rowing, biking, swimming, etc).
- First off, most articles we search discuss these topics in terms of weight loss and calorie-burning. That is nonsense. Unless you devote several hours/day to these things with a carb-restricted diet, they will do nothing for your fat. Let's take that off the table and accept that body fat is about nutritional choices and nothing else.
- Second, we are talking about things which are often referred to as "cardio" fitness and cardio training. They really are not cardio training without the high heart rate which can not be attained for healthy people through walking or jogging. Similarly for skeletal muscle strength. For general endurance, good. True "cardio training" entails repeated anaerobic sprints of almost any activity (often termed HIIT. You can do HIIT with kettlebell swings, wall ball slams, road-sprints, sprint pool laps, or anything that stresses the heck out of you for 30-60 seconds). 15-20 minutes (including rests) of HIIT accomplishes far more for cardio fitness than an hour of aerobic activity.
Third, recreational hiking, jogging, swimming, biking, rowing are more the happy rewards of fitness than stimuli to increased fitness. I can hike 10 miles because I am somewhat fit, not to become fit. Nonetheless, they are the sorts of things that distinguish an "active" person from a "sedentary". "Sedentary" roughly refers to a person with less than 8-10 hours/week of intentional, vigorous physical activity (not strolling, or housework or easy stuff), or less than 6 hours of high-intensity physical activity/week. A good measure of "high-intensity" is that you are short of breath most of the time.
- Except for newbies, the elderly, or the infirm, the above relatively low-intensity aerobic activities (I hesitate to term them "exercise" because they lack the high exertion component) are just fine for maintaining mobility and endurance for casual activities. They do not increase fitness once you can do them. Any healthy person can walk 10 miles, jog 3-5 miles, or swim a mile of laps. Still, aerobic endurance is a handy thing for life enjoyment.
- Walking and jogging put the same lower-body muscles to use. Both are easy on the hamstrings, which can lead to a muscle imbalance if jogging is your only activity. Anyway, these are not strength-builders or meaningful cardio training (because there is not a high-enough cardio stress once you have adapted to them).
- Jogging on cement or asphalt on a daily basis will come back to your joints at some point. For "long, slow", once/week is enough for a fit person who works out daily in other ways along with recreational physical activities such as sports. Running is speedy jogging with a long stride and sprinting is sprinting.
More on the topic below the fold -
- Jogging (aka slow running with a shorter stride) is obviously more intense than walking, but it is only minimally "cardio" fitness training. If you can jog for an hour or bike for three hours, that is OK endurance. If I sometimes seem to disparage these activities it is because they do nothing to build lower body strength or cardio function. Sprints and HIIT are the only things that can do that, combined with weights and calisthenics. So if you do a 3-5 mile jog each morning, or a mile aerobic swim, great. It's not a complete waste of time but it won't help you improve your general fitness. You will feel mentally better, though.
- For general fitness buffs, use your "long slow" as recovery days from more intense exercises like weights and calisthenics. Once you have attained a good level of fitness, an hour of comfortable-speed jogging, swimming, or biking will, if anything, keep you moving and help with recovery. HIIT, on the other hand, is "real exercise, " real cardio fitness training.
- Calisthenics are designed to combine cardio stress with moderate muscle stress without heavy weights. 60 seconds of jumping jacks or jump rope is true cardio, especially if you go into 60 seconds of lunges immediately. I am a believer in the necessity for weight training (especially for women), but general conditioning/calisthenics are a good place for newbies to start their fitness journey.
- Usually good "cardio" or "conditioning" classes at gyms focus on creating anaerobic stresses more than aerobic. They want their customers panting for breath, feeling a touch of nausea, and sweating like pigs. Do pigs sweat? Anyway, those sorts of high-intensity classes are great for general fitness, endurance, and cardio conditioning (but not too much for strength-building). They are fun once you get to know the regulars and learn the routines.
My final suggestion on the topic is to start exercising at your level daily, and regularly increase the intensity, challenge, and variety of your routines. I will eagerly await our readers' arguments.
Posted by Dr. Joy Bliss in Medical, Physical Fitness at 16:21 | Comments (15) | Trackbacks (0)
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My dad is a serious fitness buff, (aged 90). He blew out a knee a few years ago because he was hiking steep hills too ambitiously, and had to have the knee replaced. Now he continues to walk briskly and swim laps.
I have so many friends who've had knee and hip replacements in their 50's, and it makes me question what is the best way to exercise so that you don't over-stress your joints and have to replace them, or if not able to replace them, have to restrict your mobility.
What a downer. How many people can achieve the level of fitness advocated? So, I am 82.75 years old. I can walk 4.5 miles a day in the hills; and do about 50 modified pushups, and other exercises. But, apparently that is wasted effort because I cannot jerk a few hundred pounds, or whatever.
On the other hand, I am still here, still functional, still administer to others, and dutifully pay my taxes. So, even though I do not reach the Maggie Farm fitness goals, perhaps I am not doing so badly after all.
Frankly, I do not know who these articles are aimed at; or for what purpose they are intended.
We aim them at people 18-80 years old.
Over age 80 is a different matter but exercise is still important then for a full life.
In defense of swimmers: if “Any healthy” person could swim a mile of laps I’d see more of them doing that in our local pool and fewer adults flailing their way through navy recruiting swim quals. Swimming in an efficient and structured way is something easily learned as a child - or learned with intention and purpose as an adult - but requires learned and practiced skill. Without technique, the person in the water is not swimming. They are flapping and struggling and not breathing. The Olympic record for the 1500m freestyle is just under a minute. Swimming flat out.
I’ve been an athlete my whole life - swimming for fun as a child, some for competition and now for the pleasure of swimming and working. Because swimming - not floating or paddling - is work. If one hasn’t learned how to breathe and balance the tension of power and faster turnover, the swimmer will never finish a mile of laps. They will be exhausted from gasping their way down the pool. I’m not training for anything except life and the pleasure I feel while I’m swimming my 2.5 mile swim. At about a 1 minute 40 pace. Half as fast as the Olympic pace but what the heck. I’m not 20 either. My legs look pretty good in shorts, my clothes fit well and my back is never sore after an afternoon picking up my grandchildren and playing with them. I’m just waiting til they are old enough to teach them to,boogie board. Unless you’re planning to live forever maybe any exercise is good exercise?
Well said. Also the spam filter requires a more detailed comment, notice I didn't mention content.
"The Olympic record for the 1500m freestyle is just under a minute".
You might want to check that. Maybe around 14-15 minutes? Even running 1500 meters would be on the order of 3:30 or so.
You’re right of course - I meant 47seconds/hundred meters. Thanks for correcting. Too fast writing too slow proofing. Thanks.
At our tennis class several summers ago, a new member said they wanted to play tennis to 'get in shape'.
Our teacher said "you don't play tennis to get in shape. You get in shape to play tennis."
I couldn't agree more. When I first started playing, I was 25 lbs overweight. After 2 years of sweating and working harder than I needed to, I lost the weight during the off season. I've enjoyed tennis that much more for doing so.
I beg to differ. What you have outlined is simply not true. It would appear that this is the "line" of those who prefer weights or spinning or some such activity. Kind of a my way or the highway attitude. I suspect it is reinforced by simple ignorance or lack of having actually hiked or jogged much at all. Where ever you live there are hiking trails. It is a awesome way to see the wilderness, get out and hike. I would suggest a simple overnight hike of 20-25 miles or more. Do this often and do it for a few years and then you would be in a better position to evaluate it's health and conditioning effects.
Running/jogging is a bigger commitment. If you are young it is actually easy to get into shape to jog 3-9 miles everyday. But if like most of us you start this when you are in your 30's or later it will take a few months or longer to build up to that level. Do that for a few years. jog 6 days a week for an hour each day and then try to convince yourself it has no conditioning and health value.
I think you have been "taken in" by those who think all physical conditioning takes place in a gym.
A gym is for efficient fitness. One hour daily. Fitness = Strength, cardio, and calisthenics.
Don't misunderstand. You are 100% correct about the value of gym training. The point is that running and, yes, even walking is fitness training. When I was younger (I'm 75) I ran 3-9 miles a day and worked out with weights and played most team sports. I love exercise and being fit, well I did before old age and health issues caught up with me. If you haven't run for a couple of years and/or if you haven't competed in marathons or at least 10K's you simply cannot informatively talk about running and conditioning.
If you doubt the effectiveness of walking I suggest you walk rim to rim in the Grand Canyon. Or try to accomplish what Andrew Skurka has. Check out his site https://andrewskurka.com/
It is not my intent to disparage weight training or any form of exercise. I have enjoyed it all my life and wish I was 18 again to do it for another 60 years. Simply put, do not sell serious walking and running/jogging short.
A good running program includes a day or two each week of speedwork and/or hills.
I'll be 60 later this year. I appreciate the tips here about fitness. Farmer's carries are now part of my routine, as are deadlifts. Pushups starting flat on the floor. Burpees. Mountain climbers. Planks and side planks. Have been doing jumping squats and lunges for years. All done right at home. Can't do a pullup, don't have a place to do that at home and I will never pay to belong to a gym. But I must find a way to work on a pullup...
There are quite sturdy and useful pull up bars designed to work installed inside door frames. Hefty hardware so not in your prettiest room but basement or mud room or something similar might work for,you. We had one for our son while he was prepping for USMC. He’s 6’3’’ so had to do them knees bent in the doorway but he set a goal,of,adding 1 every workout so he’d max out on pull-ups for his PFT when he got there. Tall and hockey strong and pull-ups hard for him but he got there. And every PFT since.
This is overly analytical, especially about walking, which is good for your body, mind, and soul, requires no special clothes or shoes, does not make you sweaty and disrupt your day, can be done any time you have a spare 20+ minutes, is a wonderful way to break up your day when you need a mental or emotional break, is a fine social activity with people or your dog, gives you essential doses of fresh air and sunshine and therefore vitamin D which is especially important in the winter when other forms of outside exercise are more difficult and burdensome, and helps sleep quality immensely (for me it is THE bestway to get good sleep almost every night, by far). It also doesn't increase my appetite at all, compared to all other forms of exercise.
And these are all effects that I noticed after years of wondering why people make a big deal about walking. When I actually tried it to see how it works for me, instead of pretending I knew the answers to whole body fitness, I discovered important things about myself and my overall health and what I need. I have found the sleep benefits alone are a game-changer.
Sorry if my above comment seems overly critical, that was not my intent.
Walking is easy to try for yourself to learn what it does for you, which for each of us as individuals is the only thing that matters.
So try it. See what you think. There's your answer.