Did you know that long steady cardio exercise, like running, has now been scientifically proven to be detrimental to your health? According to research by Dr. Al Sears all those long jogs can result in cardiac distress, a shrinking of the heart, a reduction in bone density (causing osteoporosis) and a general gain in fat once exercise ceases.
First, let’s look at the distress that long steady distance running puts on your heart. Evolving from our hunter gatherer days we had no real necessity to run long distances, in fact the only running we ever did was in short bursts to avoid predators or to catch food. Our body simply isn’t designed to run long distances and the stress you put your heart under during this time can set you up for a heart attack. It’s a fact that many marathon runners do die of heart attacks.
Second, this type of cardio reduces the size of our heart rather than strengthening and increasing its size. Our body is a fantastic machine capable of adapting to anything with time; if we run long distances our body adapts to be more efficient at this activity. Fat is the preferred energy source from our body and so the more you train long distance the more efficient the heart becomes at using less fat. To be more efficient the heart will shrink in size, just like the engine in a scooter is more efficient than a 4×4.
Third, repetitive forces that are put through your joints like the ankles, knees, hips and back not only create repetitive injury but also reduce the bone density. Strength training is the key to improving bone density, keep the exercises short and with plenty of resistance. This type of training forces the bones to grow stronger, remember the body is a master adapter, so that next time you perform your strength exercises your bones are more capable of dealing with the strain. Long steady cardio puts your bones under undue distress and causes them to prematurely break down.
Finally, losing fat is about becoming less efficient with your fat energy supply so you use up more and produce less. Long steady cardio does use more fat than any other type of training during the exercise itself. However, as the body uses a lot of fat as energy it then turns all further calories into fat ready for the next long cardio session. This is fine when you are training regularly because you are burning the fat during exercise but as soon as you stop that extra fat is going to keep on being produced. Back to square one! So long cardio sessions are not good for fat loss in the long term.
So what is the answer? You must start training your heart like any other muscle in your body and in a way that it was designed to be used – short bouts of quick exercise with high exertion. This type of activity is exactly what we evolved to do, think back to our hunter gatherer days. As I said earlier, our body is a master adapter and hard short bouts of exercise will induce an increase in heart strength and size. Also, as our body no longer requires the excess body fat to fuel our runs it will be used as energy for long term body maintenance. Combine this type of quick activity with some strength training and you are well on your way to better health and fitness.
Copyright (c) 2007 Greg Brookes