Exercise harder and live longer

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    News from UK, on research showing moderate exercise is not so useful as had been suggested (inc still by UK govt): at least some vigorous exercise needed for optimum health benefits.

    Run, don’t walk, if you want to maximise your chances of living a long and healthy life – and don’t be misled by what the Government tells you, researchers say today. In a direct challenge to the official advice that moderate exercise such as brisk walking is best for health, sports experts say guidelines are sending out the wrong message and must be changed. A survey by researchers from the universities of Exeter and Brunel found more than half of men (56 per cent) and over two thirds of women (71 per cent) believe moderate activities, such as walking, are most beneficial for health, counter to the evidence. Gary O’Donovan, exercise physiologist at the University of Exeter and lead author of the research, published in Preventive Medicine, said: "Time and time again, the largest and most robust studies have shown that vigorously active individuals live longer and enjoy a better quality of life than moderately active individuals and couch potatoes.

    Here, I’d figure "walking" means along level ground; maybe hiking can count as vigorous exercise, if do some tough uphill stretches.


    Ah, but if you exercise in smog, also get increased damage to lungs (and, perhaps, bloodstream).

    From NY Times:

    … “Athletes typically take in 10 to 20 times as much air,” and thus pollutants, with every breath as sedentary people do.

    a 2004 review of pollution studies worldwide conducted by the University of Brisbane, Australia, found that during exercise, low concentrations of pollutants caused lung damage similar to that caused by high concentrations in people not working out.

    there are long-term consequences. A study that used the mass of data included in the Women’s Health Initiative found that women who lived in communities with relatively high levels of air pollution in the forms of tiny particles — a k a soot — were far more likely to die because of heart attacks than women who lived in cleaner air. …

    “Fine particulates are definitely something to worry about,” said Dr. Rundell, especially for athletes, who, in the process of exerting themselves, “can take in very elevated doses.”

    Dr. Newby has seen, in action, the effects of those particles on active people. In 2005, he and his colleagues had 30 healthy volunteers ride exercise bikes inside a laboratory for 30 minutes, while breathing piped-in diesel exhaust at levels approximately those along a city highway at rush hour.

    Afterward, the researchers … found that the vessels were abnormally dilated, meaning blood and oxygen could not flow easily to the muscles. … “Those are ideal conditions for a heart attack,” Dr. Newby said.

    Still, it is not wise to give up outdoor exercise, even if, as Dr. Bell put it, there is a “trade-off between physical health from exercise and damage from air pollution.”

    “Be sensible and try to cut back” on your exposure to particles, Dr. Rundell advised, but don’t use pollution as an excuse to cut back on exercise.

    In the calculus of health concerns, “Breathing air pollution is not nearly as bad as smoking,” Dr. Lippmann said.

    “The bottom line is that running and cycling are healthy and, over all, good for the heart,” Dr. Newby said. With proper care, he said, outdoor exercise does not have to be harmful — and, done en masse, could even ease pollution.

    “I ride my bike back and forth to work every day,” he said. “If everyone else did that, too, we wouldn’t be having this problem at all, would we?”

    For Athletes, an Invisible Traffic Hazard

    From American Lung Association:

    You can minimize your exposure to air pollution by being aware of pollution and by following some simple guidelines: If you live in an area susceptible to air pollution, here’s what you should do:

    * Do train early in the day or in the evening.

    * Do avoid midday or afternoon exercise, and avoid strenuous outdoor work,if possible, when ozone smog or other pollution levels are high.

    * Do avoid congested streets and rush hour traffic; pollution levels can be high up to 50 feet from the roadway.

    * Do make sure teachers, coaches and recreation officials know about air pollution and act accordingly.

    * Most important, do be aware of the quality of the air you breathe!

    Don’t do the following:

    * Don’t take air pollution lightly, it can hurt all of us!

    * Don’t engage in strenuous outdoor activity when local officials issue health warnings.

    Air Pollution and Exercise

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