In the news
Does lots of exercise harden your arteries?
There have been a couple of studies using imaging techniques among endurance athletes — for example, marathon runners — that reveal high rates of calcium accumulation in their coronary arteries. Is that a problem for persons who exercise a lot?
For decades we have known that persons who exercise frequently with moderate intensity* have lower risks of obesity, type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke and coronary artery disease. The recent report does not change that. Nor do the recent studies show that these endurance athletes have a greater risk of dying of heart attacks. The more so then that moderate exercise confers all the benefits and none of the risks. * Frequently means about 4 times a week for at least sixty minutes; moderate means breaking a sweat during most of that hour.
It’s possible that when the body calcifies arterial plaques it makes them less likely to rupture, which is what causes a heart attack or stroke.
The old saw, “Moderation in everything” becomes the Goldilocks Principle: too little exercise is bad; too much exercise (when extreme) might be bad; moderate (see above) exercise is just right.
Lowering the risk of stroke or heart attack is only part of the exercise picture. A “Goldilocks” routine will provide more energy, a feeling of well-being, a stronger immune system, less likelihood of diabetes, cancer or gallbladder disease, and looking really good on the beach this summer!
This might be a good time to confirm why you’re dieting, if you are. Or if you’ve given up, why you ought to reconsider that decision.
Dieting improves the quality of life. Here are some examples, not necessarily in order of importance, and this list is far from an exhaustive one:
You will have more self-confidence. After all, if you have hung on and especially if you reached your targets, either short- or long-term, you know that you have accomplished something that most people have not.
You look better. If you haven’t had to change your wardrobe yet you probably fit better in the current one. Buttonholes don’t stretch, zippers zip and other people only see what you want them to see.
You feel better. If you’ve ever been hiking and finally got to take off your backpack at the end of the day – that’s what it feels like to lose a few pounds. All the time.
Pain is going away. Back pain, hip pain and knee pain are often due simply to the extra weight that is pressed down on them.
Hunger pangs are fewer. That’s because you have been eating smaller meals and your stomach has gotten a little smaller. It takes less to fill it up. And you’re getting used to fewer calories.
You don’t feel tired as often. Besides having less weight to carry, you have been building up muscle strength with resistance exercise. (Well, you have been doing those exercises, haven’t you?)