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Not exercising worse than smoking, diabetes and heart disease study finds (cnn.com)
318 points by nikolasavic 24 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 222 comments

If there is one universal truth of human biology, it is that exercise is good. It is good if you do a bit or a lot, if you are young, old, male, female, trans, pregnant, trying to get pregnant, single, married, divorced, depressed, a smoker, have cancer, have heart disease, have dementia, an astronaut, a pure mathematician, a plumber, tall, short, liberal, conservative etc etc. There isn't anyone that doesn't benefit basically. It's almost like breathing.

The message is important, but I think we can just stop doing studies about how exercise is good. Researchers must love these kinds of studies because they are ALWAYS POSITIVE. And the media loves promoting them, I guess because they get a lot of clicks.

Getting people to do more exercise - that is the hard part. More randomised studies of interventions to do that on a society level are needed. There is going to be an extraordinary number of people transitioning from (admittedly unpleasant and impoverished) more active lifestyles to sedentary work in the next 50 years. Reducing the burden of disease in this group is essential.

School made me hate any kind of sports. The teachers were awful, bullies loved it because it allowed some of their behavior to pass as "camaraderie", and I'm not even going to ask what are they thinking when deciding to put a bunch of 14/15 yo teens in a swimming pool for a whole trimester at the age when they're starting to grow hair and breasts and are mostly very uncomfortable with their bodies. Most people I talk to feel the same, school as a teen put them off sports for a looong time, if not for ever.

I tried going to fancy gyms, running around the block, at home body weight exercises... Nothing stuck and I quit in short order. The only thing I kept up was cycling everywhere because it's cheaper and faster than any other means available in my city.

It took me 20 years, a personal trainer, a private gym in my building, a lot of courage, and a lot of free time from getting laid off to finally start exercising regularly. It was absolutely worth it and I could feel the benefits after a couple of months only. I wasn't obese, didn't have heart problems, didn't smoke etc, and thought of myself as healthy as the average person my age.

It made a huge difference in my life, my body doesn't hurt as much anymore overall, I stand straighter and taller, I can lift more and more weight, I can do more reps, hold things for longer, and feel better about myself... It was a pain and a drag to go for the first few weeks and the. It becomes a habit if you stick to it.

So thank you to that dysfunctional employer and their shitty politics games, you made me a huge favor by laying me off!

I worry about my health and often I have a really good try and making a habit. But crap is it hard. It's not the money or the time. There's something else about willpower and boredom. I wish I could get on an exercise bike, stare at a brainwashing device, and "wake up" an hour later having remembered none of it.

Then forget exercise for now, just take a contemplative walk around the block. Perhaps do it right before breakfast and/or after dinner. It's easy and takes less than 10 minutes. Don't think of it as exercise and do it in any clothes and with any shoes. No excuses, anyone can walk around 1 block and everyone needs 10 private minutes to collect their thoughts.

Before you know it you'll find yourself walking around several blocks, then swinging your arms, then walking faster, then you may even start jogging. You'll feel motivated, you'll keep making progress, and most importantly, you'll actually look forward to your walks.

I followed the advice above and now run almost daily before sunrise. It has really boosted my self-esteem since I had always disliked running yet admired those people who run before sunrise. But if someone had told me to start by purchasing running clothes, finding the right running shoes, choosing a good running route, stretching for 10 minutes... forget it! However, I will make one recommendation. This mask is helpful on mornings when it is below 40F. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0796R1DPG . Please, start tomorrow morning and report back. :)

I got into running, thinking that I wanted to try for a half-marathon. I actually worked up to the distance surprisingly quickly. I was under 30 at the time and it took like 2 months, and before that I wasn't running at all or doing any other exercise regularly. I started having some knee pain (flat feet don't help) and stopped after it became painful to run even a mile or two. About a year later, I fell on a skateboard on the same knee and injured my bursae. I fear that my running days are over, but it was kind of fun in a weird way after you get past ~mile 4. I still go mountain biking occasionally and enjoy long walks (on vacation I'll walk 15+ miles in a day).

Something like 50% of runners get injured in a given year. It’s insane. Do something that’s easier on your body. If you want cardio, hike or bike. I like weight lifting, personally. If you want to try weight lifting, check out Starting Strength.

> Something like 50% of runners get injured in a given year.

That's because most people use bad technique and would probably benefit from strength training as well. Sitting all day and then expecting your body to run for 30-60 minutes and then sitting again will lead to high risk of injury. I see a lot of people run like they're walking with longer strides, or hunched over, or any number of bad habits. The feet should land under your center of mass, not in front of it, and the turnover should be pretty fast. Short and fast steps instead of long and slow. Don't run too fast, use your core for stability, and keep an upright posture, slightly leaned forward at the ankles.

Look up proper running form, do some drills, and add body weight strength training a couple of times each week if you're thinking of starting running.

that is because most runners use padded shoes, which enable you to run in a totally unnatural way.

>this kind of collision leads to a rapid, high impact transient about 1.5 to as much as 3 times your body weight (depending on your speed) within 50 milliseconds of striking the ground (see graph a below).

>This is equivalent to someone hitting you on the heel with a hammer using 1.5 to as much as 3 times your body weight. These impacts add up, since you strike the ground almost 1000 times per mile!

taken from:


It is impossible to run this way with undamped shoes or barefoot.

I recommend this book (not affiliated):


is really fun to read, it is about a indigenous tribe in mexico which run in sandals cut from old tires, for 24 or 48 hours straight. In there is a reference to another study where they found a correlation between cost of the shoe and the rate of injuries: more expensive shoes with better damping had higher rates of injuries, they weren't expecting this.

Our legs evolved to store the energy in our tendons and release it to propel us forward. A QUARTER of the bones in our body is in our feet! Humans evolved to be the best endurance runners on the planet, being "naked" (without fur) is actually an advantage for running, enabling us to cool down our bodies by sweating. There are still tribes hunting their prey by running after it for prolonged periods till it collapses from overheating. There are races for horses, humans started to compete in. Initially the runners where ridiculed but someday a human won the race.

And most importantly, don’t bereft your brain from useful feedback from your foot! Use thin (unpadded) rubber soles on your shoes. If your feet are getting painful, probably they are saying something useful about your knees as well.

No way. That's not true. I've been running for 10 years now. Never have I been injured. Also my friends did not suffer injuries neither. If you like lifting, that's fine. But that does not mean running is worse that lifting or that you could even compare them. It just means that you are used to lifting and you are rationalising your choice.


37-56%. Literally the top result when I googled for “running injury rates”.

The 50% may or may not be true, but your personal experience says very little about that overall statistic.

Right, so it does.

For anyone worried about knee injuries from running, or shin splints I can highly recommend weightlifting, in particular squats, as an auxiliary exercise. I kept on running, getting pains in my knees and resting for two weeks and then just doing it again. After six months (way longer than probably necessary) of progressively lifting higher weights I went back to running and I’m doing my first 50K next week, having done a 35K up and down mountains previously. My first run after the long period weightlifting I just decided to run a half marathon distance to see if I could. The muscle pain the next day was less than I often get from lifting.

I do tennis a few hours a week and my knees have started hurting after a period of summer inactivity. I'm thinking of taking up gym squats again, my knees never felt better than when I was squatting. I could effortlessly climb up stairs like it was nothing with just a few weeks of weightlifting, I need to get back on that (and recommend it to anyone).

Thanks. I love how practical your advice is. Going to do this tomorrow. Maybe it'll even help align my sleep schedule. My wife is up at 6 and I always sleep in to 8.

Additional advice: Bring some headphones and listen to great music or continue your favorite podcasts. Time will fly if you add a soundtrack to your walk.

In addition to what everyone is saying, you might be exercising too hard. The fitness industry, paradoxically, pushes the idea that exercise should be hard, perhaps because it’s an easy thing for people to believe. Hard work feels like it’s getting you in shape.

But most cardio should be easy, like 60-70% your training maximum heart rate. Many elite distance runners follow an “80/20” rule, where 80% of their training is easy in this way. But 100% is fine also. If you’re not used to it, this feels odd, like you’re going too slow and doing nothing. But measure your time and distance and the improvements will be obvious. It’s like training for free. The only ingredient is time. After a good long low-intensity run I feel less fatigued than I did when I started. Meanwhile hordes of people suffer through these awful spinning classes. It’s like they think exercise should make you feel worse instead of better!

People who feel the need to put in effort and who aren’t distance athletes are likely much better served by adding HIIT and/or strength training than by pushing steady-state cardio too hard.

The 2 fastest runners I know both told me to run slow[1]. It's so counter-intuitive but works so well. So many benefits: 1) no injuries; 2) energizing exercise instead of draining; 3) can run 5-6 times a week which is habit forming; 4) run farther/longer which burns more calories; 5) I can multi-task (audiobook, podcast) instead of just trying to catch my breath. I repeat: no injuries!

[1] They don't know each other. One friend fast enough to be 1st in a 3,000 person half marathon.

I found rock climbing to be a very effective for exercise, because there’s quite a thrill looking down from the top. It’s exciting and you almost forget you’re getting sweaty and gross and tired. Plus there’s that immediate sense of accomplishment when you get to the top, which is much more immediate and concrete than the sense of accomplishment you get after jogging 5 miles or whatever.

Also if I have a free day I love just walking all day exploring and listening to a good fiction audiobook. Audiobooks are weird if you’re not used to them, but trust me, eventually you’ll swear by them if you get over that initial hump. And randomly walking around and exploring is good exercise, you’ll forget exactly how tired you are while listening to the audiobook and it won’t be in until you stop to take a break several hours later that you suddenly realize “Holy crap I just walked 12 miles and I’m tired!”

To each his own, but I used to have your exact same attitude about exercise and these two things worked for me. I’ve lost 50 pounds in the last five years. Obviously there’s other factors like diet and mood and body type and whatnot, but these have been my main forms of exercise. Hope that helps!

Some suggestions, YMMV.

Podcasts or films or boxsets on the phone/tablet to kill that boredom if you're doing steady state cardio. Maybe immersive games like that Zombie Run game, if jogging is your thing.

Switch it up, do HIIT instead of low impact steady state cardio once in a while. Lift weights.

Find a buddy to go with you. If you're obligated (or enjoy the company) then you'll be more likely to do it - as will they, you'll be helping them out too. Professional options include: join a sports club. Tennis, kickboxing, whatever works for you. Or get a personal trainer, if you can afford it. 99% of their value is that they simply make you turn up.

Cycle/walk/jog commute if possible. If you can fit exercise into your existing routine it's far easier to keep doing it.

Best of luck!

Go out and ride a real bicycle, either around town or commuting to/from work. I do a lot of cycling (thousands of miles/yr) but cannot stand to spend more than 5 minutes on a stationary bicycle/trainer.

Mountain biking is also great. You put in loads of work to get to the top and then you get the fun of going down vs a stationary bike which is all work and no fun. You can make them slightly more fun with games like zwift that make stationary bikes competitive and gamified.

I also enjoy mountain biking, but not as much in California. I grew up in the midwest, and while there were many more mosquitoes there and the weather sucked half of the year, the trails were a lot more fun IMO. It was much flatter, so you could build up a lot more speed and basically push up the small hills without losing much momentum. Mountain biking in NorCal is much more 30-90 minutes of climbing followed by 5-15 minutes of downhill where you're dodging hikers, other bikers, horses, and dog poop. The sun is also pretty brutal, with not much cover aside from a few trail networks, whereas in the midwest most MTB trails were 90% in a forest.

It can still be fun, but honestly it makes me want an e-bike to get past the boring grindey up-hill parts. The other aspect of this is that in the midwest, once you had attained a certain level of mountain biking proficiency / fitness, you could go fast on trails all of the time, because you'd be able to sprint up the hills, pump any bumps / logs, and pedal down hills as well. It was much more of a "roller coaster" experience. In NorCal, even if you're super fit, you might be able to get up hills more quickly, but no one is sprinting multi-mile climbs at ~15mph. Again, e-bike, but they're super expensive for a nice one and they're only allowed on a few trails out here AFAIK.

I, too, hate exercise. For a subsection of them, they are just uncomfortable. Horribly uncomfortable. But mostly, it is so boring. So very boring. Soul-sucking boredom is very hard to overcome. I dread most of it.


If my home life is stressful or bad, I enjoy walks. I don't suggest having a bad home life for this.

I enjoy walks if someone else wants me to go with them. A great way to do this is to see if a senior center or other such place has a program where you can walk with other folks that could use some company.

I don't mind walking as my primary mode of transportation. I'm quite comfortable with a half an hour walking commute both ways, though an hour seems to encourage bus use one way (at least). I walk to the grocery store a few times a week. If you can work some of this into your schedule, I highly suggest it. It is no longer exercise, but transportation.

I keep thinking that I could probably find time to ride a stationary bicycle as well. I have youtube and other such entertainment. The spouse reads while on the machine. Unfortunately, I do not have the physical space in my apartment for such a thing, since I have a small but cheap apartment with two people living in it. I also do not have access to the spouse's training facilities at work.

I had the same problem until I got into MMA. I'm not a stereotypical MMA "bro" but the social aspects and the varied but intense workouts are perfect for me to be engaged and not lose interest. Plus learning to fight is a skill even if I hope to never have to use it in a serious situation.

I wanted to get into MMA but I hate falling down. How do you handle that? Do you just do it?

Probably the first entire month was spent on how to properly fall, block, and take blows as to not hurt yourself. In my experience, it was part of the class and is as important to learn as anything else.

It depends on what martial art you learn, but there are whole traditions that spend lots of time training on how to fall and land. But also just get stronger. Everything hurts less when you’re stronger.

Unsure how relevant this is to your situation since I primarily lift weights but I find the best way to get myself to the gym is to have small rituals that you do on autopilot as part of a larger routine. For instance, I have headphones which I only wear at the gym - for me, the act of putting the headphones on seems to signify to my brain "hey, we're engaging the 'go to the gym' routine now" and everything else just sort of happens. It could be something else comparatively simple like putting on your workout shoes or filling up a water bottle that you take with you. Also, for me at least, one of the things that helps overcome the boredom is goals/metrics, which is pretty easy with weightlifting - it's "did I lift more than last time or not?". Personally, I find the stationary bike boring, so you might want to look for something else that you enjoy.

That's why you gotta like the exercise you do. For me biking is boring, but I love volleyball.

I can’t make myself workout on a treadmill or stationary bike, feels like purgatory. But I can work out in a bootcamp/CrossFit like group class for an hour. Something about the social aspect works for me, maybe you’re in the same boat.

I do nearly exactly that on my phone playing Predynastic Egypt, but on the elliptical instead of on a bike. Sometimes my legs start to hurt after 90 minutes, but I want to play just... one... more... turn.

Yeah finding something you enjoy is key.

I hate running. I hate cycling. I hate cardio-class-type motions.

But damn do I love me some Dance Dance Revolution. And let me tell you, once you get good at it and start doing the hardest songs on the hardest setting, it will kick the living shit out of you. The first time I passed Max 300 on heavy I thought I was dying. But it was so worth it.

I’ve honestly thought about getting a VR setup just to play Beat Saber.

Honestly GORN is a great workout as well, but you run into issues with the Oculus getting too hot on your sweaty face. I picked up a "VR Cover" and it helps a bit, but it still gets soaked through with sweat. It is at least easier to wash.

Beat Saber looks just so snappy and catchy.

This is the best comment I have seen on HN all year.

I find my gameplay performance is a lot worse when I'm moving on a cardio bike.

Try a turn-based strategy game where timing and precision are almost irrelevant.

Audible, Podcasts, Spotify, Youtube, Netflix etc. there's a lot of things to keep you entertained while you're on the bike.

Well there is always zumba.

I personally think the research done on HIIT/HIIE-style[0] exercise has been pretty revolutionary.

Sure the status quo remains: exercise=good, non-exercise=bad, but reality is more nuanced than that and something like HIIT helps people who feel they lack the time for "full" exercise to justify a minimal time commitment with proven and significant health benefits.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-intensity_interval_traini...

Yes! I agree the HIIT research is great and very interesting and impactful - they designed and implemented an intervention with a control group and measured other correlative variables including muscle biopsies. And as you say the results are actually useful for getting some people that don't have the time or inclination to run marathons.

I would certainly distinguish this kind of research from the many redundant retrospective observational studies (often with self-reported exercise activity levels) of the kind linked in the original post.

> I think we can just stop doing studies about how exercise is good

I heartily disagree. People have limited time. We need to figure out what form of excercise gives the most benefit for unit of time spent. There is serious disagreement about this (the two camps being cardio vs strength training, basically).

Exercise should be enjoyable or people will not do it. The second you start talking about benefit for unit of time spent it becomes a tedious chore. I love rock climbing, I hate running, no statistic about running being more beneficial is going to make me run.

I have introduced tons of friends to the gym and my first piece of advice is always just show up and have fun, don’t worry about ideal routines or maximizing output. Just figure out how to make exercise part of your life.

> Exercise should be enjoyable or people will not do it.

This is what finally worked for me. I died of boredom jogging or lifting weights.

You have to find a sport that you enjoy. I have friends that were unfit and finally climbing did it for them. It was BJJ and MMA for me. I enjoyed tennis/squash, but it's sometimes hard to find an equal partner - same with other "group" sports.

I’ve been doing Ashtabga Yoga for years then recently I discovered how fun calisthenics can be if you “gamify” it with a friend, thinking of advanced progressions as videogame-like achievements. Really into it now.

I love rock climbing, I hate running, no statistic about running being more beneficial is going to make me run.

FWIW this was me two years ago. Then I came to grips with the fact that running is the best training for mountain climbing.

>the two camps being cardio vs strength training

The research being reported on here studied cardio: "cardiorespiratory fitness was inversely associated with all-cause mortality":


>People have limited time. We need to figure out what form of excercise gives the most benefit for unit of time spent.

optimizing for the wrong variable.

there's always time which could be spent exercising. people are often too stressed or tired to do it, or don't have enough motivation.

flossing your teeth takes four minutes. but how many people do it?

> We need to figure out what form of excercise gives the most benefit for unit of time spent.

Retrospective observational studies like the one in the original post aren't going to to that though.

Although I agree with you in principle, the differences between types of exercise are likely to be small compared to the benefit of doing anything at all. Most of the population aren't that concerned with what type of exercise gives the biggest delta in VO2 max.

> There is serious disagreement about this (the two camps being cardio vs strength training, basically).

Huh, strange to hear this. I do strength training (basically a lot of compound lifts like squats and deadlifts and so on) and I consider them to be a cardio. If I do a speedy 12 rep set, I am properly spent and breathing heavy and see my heart rate at 160 and above

> If I do a speedy 12 rep set, I am properly spent

That the simplest way to know it's not cardio - you can't sustain it for a long period.

Tabata intervals is most definitely cardio, and you can't do a sufficiently hard one more than around 4 minutes.

theres no disagreement . moderate strength training preserves muscle mass as you age, consistent preservation of skeletal muscle mass is required to stave off acute muscle degeneration beyond some point in you late 60 to 70s.

heart muscle doesnt waste as easily, but moderate cardio, including moderate sprinting can be very useful for keeping a strong heart.

endurance cardio has no longevity/healthspan benefits beyond those wrought by virtue of stressing the heart and muscles in the initial moderate dose.

freqiency and consistency of above average myscle useage are key to preserving muscle function. also range of motion helps all muscle get used and keeps loads balanced to prevent injury.

my grandma is 96. never did a day of cardio running in her life.

Thing about exercise is that it effectively, doesn't take any time at all because one of the results is that you need to sleep less. In my experience, it at least makes up for the time you spend exercising.

Source? Exercise certainly makes me sleep more.

Me too. One of the most challenging things about establishing an exercise schedule for me is that, without fail, it makes me feel exhausted for the rest of the day. Therefore, morning sessions just don't work. In the afternoon, there's far more variability in availability and motivation.

Maybe i am simply not overdoing it, about 30 mins per day 6 days a week, quite light. Did help me to lose 8 kilos in 9 months, still, which was about everything i needed to lose, so i am happy.

"More randomised studies of interventions to do that on a society level are needed." This gets at the heart of things. We used to have societies in which exercise needs were often met through activities of daily living. Many places in the world still require walking, biking, hauling water, carrying children, transporting food on your back, etc. Many places in the world people still dance at community events, for fun, no matter what their age. But the US -- we've been working as hard as we can for 90 years to eliminate exercise from daily life. And now we are doing another classic US-ian thing and shifting this formerly natural and communal thing to an individual responsibility, preferably an individual responsibility that can be monetized. What so many instances have shown in the US is that when you take an activity that used to be built into daily life and 'gentrify' it -- make it something that costs money and time because it's denied to some groups by the very structures of the buildings and streets they live around -- we end up with huge public health costs and unforeseen consequences. But taking a conscious approach in the design of our cities, public housing, public transport systems, private transport systems, zoning laws, energy policy, food policy, medical care delivery, public school requirements, and private school requirements is considered to be some sort of socialist brainwashing that kills the seed of freedom in one's heart, or something. Only if you are forced to commute on the highway rather than being able to bike safely to work are you truly living the American dream. Only if you must drive thirty minutes to get to the nearest place with chicken that tastes like something other than styrofoam, rather than being able to walk to the neighborhood store for it, are you satisfying the extractive demands of our apparently-preferred economy.

Yeah, one thing that world travel has really shown me is how dumb US cities and infrastructure are. In the UK, Japan, Hong Kong, etc, you can take trains wherever you want to go and walk on both ends to make up the last 1/4 mile. All of those 1/4 miles add up to a decent workout, and it's great to not have to buy + maintain + drive + park a vehicle.

I'm still mad at everyone who had a hand in preventing BART from running down the peninsula. https://io9.gizmodo.com/5866928/a-map-of-san-franciscos-subw... has the original map if you haven't seen it. It would have ran from Jennings (north of Santa Rosa in the far north bay) all the way down to Los Gatos (in the Santa Cruz foothills), crossed the South Bay at 3 points (Oakland, Foster City, and East Palo Alto), and featured MANY more routes inside of San Francisco proper to places like Presidio, North Beach, Masonic, Van Ness, Castro, Oyster Point, Taravel, and Potrero Hill. I know that a couple of those routes are now served by MUNI trains, but this was a plan in 1956, would have been a single system, and still had way better coverage than we have today or planned in the next 20 years.

I find that if the exercise is in nature, it is much more pleasurable which creates a positive feedback loop. Take a look at google maps, there are probably wilderness trails 20 minutes from most places people live.

My mistaken belief that exercise is good no matter what lead me to destroy my health over the past several years. It is in fact quite possible for exercise to be dangerous to your health, if you suffer from certain conditions (like CFS).

”If there is one universal truth of human biology, it is that exercise is good”

I don’t see the need to mention biology. I think every reasonable definition of “exercise” automatically implies that exercise is good. For example, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise says: ”Exercise is any bodily activity that enhances or maintains physical fitness and overall health and wellness”

Which part of that is not biology?

The self-fulfilling prophecy part. If you define exercise as enhancing fitness and health, overtraining isn’t exercise anymore, and exercise by definition becomes good for you.

> More randomised studies of interventions to do that on a society level are needed. There is going to be an extraordinary number of people transitioning from (admittedly unpleasant and impoverished) more active lifestyles to sedentary work in the next 50 years.

I think Pokemon GO may have successfully pushed the problems off a bit.

don't overlook genetics, there are family lines that just live longer regardless of many what people consider bad habits. exercise rightly cannot be dismissed but all the exercise in the world won't fix what is in your DNA.

still on the exercise front there needs to be more work in find easy routines that even the least inclined can participate in

Exercise improves your DNA.

My physical advice runs as follows, with commentary below.

> Eat (non-processed) food. Not too much. Mostly plants. (Pollan)[0]

> Invest in strength and cardio training. Couple hours per week[1].

> Listen to qualified medical professionals, critically[2].

[0] tl;dr - make your own meals, high frequency of salads, don't overeat, and don't fuss too much.

[1] I recommend serious kettlebell work to achieve this; takes very little equipment and very little space.

[2] They aren't always right, and you always have to self-advocate.

I recommend the work of John Berardy PhD. His research is focused primarily on exercise nutrition.


not affiliated

This quote sets off alarm bells for sensationalism:

"People who do not perform very well on a treadmill test," Jaber said, "have almost double the risk of people with kidney failure on dialysis."

The quote doesn't appear to be part of the paper either. The first Google hit for all-cause kidney disease mortality says:

"The absolute risk for death increased exponentially with decreasing renal function in these studies. The magnitude of the unadjusted increase in risk ranged from approximately 38% to >1100%"

Those numbers are for non-dialysis patients. You'd expect the dialysis patients to be much worse due to the first sentence. The exercise paper says:

"The increase in all-cause mortality associated with reduced CRF (low vs elite: adjusted HR, 5.04; 95% CI, 4.10-6.20; P < .001; below average vs above average: adjusted HR, 1.41; 95% CI, 1.34-1.49; P < .001) was comparable to or greater than traditional clinical risk factors."

I don't think low vs elite is a fair interpretation of "not doing very well", so I'd take 41% as the increase in risk. That is very much not double 38-1100%. You'd assume it's certainly not double the exponentially worse-off dialysis patients. You wouldn't think 504% was either, even if you are charitable to the quote.

The findings seem interestingly strong. Overplaying them further should not be necessary.

The article's title is somewhat misleading. The study emphasises the level of fitness rather than the regularity of exercise. [0]

> Question: What is the association between cardiorespiratory fitness and long-term mortality?

> Findings: In this cohort study of 122 007 consecutive patients undergoing exercise treadmill testing, cardiorespiratory fitness was inversely associated with all-cause mortality without an observed upper limit of benefit. Extreme cardiorespiratory fitness (≥2 SDs above the mean for age and sex) was associated with the lowest risk-adjusted all-cause mortality compared with all other performance groups.

> Meaning: Cardiorespiratory fitness is a modifiable indicator of long-term mortality, and health care professionals should encourage patients to achieve and maintain high levels of fitness.

[0]: https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle...

I wonder how they know it is modifiable? Without splitting the population into “folks we told to exercise” and those who we did not, you can’t really know how successful such a program is.

People that feel good and aren’t sick will be likely to exercise more, so there are confounding factors.

That's a little pedantic, even for HN, don't you think? "Oh, it's not the exercise that's important, it's the stuff that happens BECAUSE you exercise."

It's not pedantic at all. I'm ~40 and don't exercise at all, yet I'm still perfectly fit. I presume it's due to doing groceries by foot several times per week, having a standup desk, and carrying the kid around. Perhaps genes help too. But the point I'd like to get across is: going to the gym isn't the sine qua non of making you fit. You can get enough "exercise" by simply living without a car, standing, and walking.

> I'm ~40 and don't exercise at all, yet I'm still perfectly fit.

You should really get a CPX test to verify this.

I'm with you, I've learned that "I'm perfectly fit" is one of those lies we convince ourselves is true to feel better about ourselves.

We might have even mostly convinced ourselves that "fit" means "not obese, and doesn't get winded on two flights of stairs"

Some kind of at-home standard benchmark would be handy.

Now we've just traded one form of pedantry for another.

Some would say your activity is exercise. Or you could say exercise is only stuff done for no other reason than fitness, but your activity substitutes for exercise.

In any case, the first paragraph of the CNN article makes it clear the distinction is "a sedentary lifestyle". Clearly if you are active, you aren't sedentary.

Anyway, what the researchers studied is not self-reported fitness but treadmill testing as a measure of cardiovascular fitness. If your grocery- and kid-carrying habits allow you to do well on a treadmill test, then you "exercise" according to the parameters of what was studied.

I think you need to define perfectly fit. Can you do 10 pullups?

If you check, you will find it is incredibly rare for health and fitness books and articles to define "health", "fitness" or "exercise". Body by Science[0][1] gets right to it on pages 2 and 3 to define all three:

Health: A physiological state in which there is an absence of disease or pathology and that maintains the necessary biologic balance between the catabolic and anabolic states.

Fitness: The bodily state of being physiologically capable of handling challenges that exist above a resting threshold of activity.

Exercise: A specific activity that stimulates a positive physiological adaptation that serves to enhance fitness and health and does not undermine the latter in the process of enhancing the former.

[0] https://www.amazon.com/Body-Science-Research-Strength-Traini...

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PdJFbjWHEU

Not the person you replied to, but I know well a person who

* does zero exercise, other than a few short walks every workday * has done very little exercise at any time in the last 20+ years * is as sedentary as life allows him to be * can do 10 pullups no problem * has a "normal" BMI

Is that fit? Who knows, I certainly don't. Also maybe he's not very healthy despite some favourable metrics, I dunno. Could be a lot worse, though.

My point here was only to substantiate that exercise and fitness are not perfectly correlated, and thus support vladharbuz's top-level comment.

Pullups are more of a gymnastic activity that just requires your nervous system is trained to recruit the right muscles very intensely at the right time. I can do maybe 12-15 and am borderline overweight, just because I do them habitually.

I can’t do 10 pull ups but I run 50 miles a week.

99% of the population can’t do 1 pull-up, let alone 10. Most of the people I go to the gym with would struggle with more than a few.

Hell, even marines and rangers have lower fitness standards (3 and 6 dead hang chin ups respectively).

That's a gtoss misrepresentation of the marines' standards. The tables are here: https://www.marines.mil/Portals/59/Publications/MCBUL%206100...

3 is for men over 51. And that's the bare minimum, not get kicked out of the marines threshold.

To reach top rank scoring is more like 15-17 for most ages. Mid rank is about 11 or up.

Maybe 99% of the population can't do a pullup, but I feel that's an overestimate. In any case, that says more about our overall societal weakness than anything else.

What are your gym friends doing if they couldn't do more than a few? Are they strength training or just doing cardio? Serious question, I'm curious. With a few months training ar age 26 I was able to do 5 reps of my bodyweight + about 40 pounds IIRC. And now, even when I periodically stop strength training, I am rarely below 8-10 when I start again.

Chin-ups are hard, but they're not that hard if you train them or do any activity that works those muscles.

It's not pedantic, it's a real point. It's not clear at all that the relationship between exercise and fitness is as simple as you claim.

Clearly, if a given person exercises more, they will be more fit. But there are also many other factors, including genetics, influencing fitness.

Unhealthy people in general will do poorly at those tests. Even if you don’t exercise, but are active, you will do better than a sick person.

The study’s benefit is that folks should get tested and if their fitness level is poor, figure out why.

The conclusion isn’t, “I exercise and therefor i will live longer”

Grip strength is also an excellent marker of longevity/imminent death - but this is probably not a result of exercise, and certainly not grip-strength exercise. Science is not assuming that what seems like a very reasonable guess is true, and questioning such assumptions must be "pedantic." Instead, we do the experiments and know one way or another.

PS - one of the things that happens when most people exercise is more UV exposure as they walk, run or cycle: and previous studies have shown UV exposure to be more important for longevity than exercise per se.

As someone who exercises, I didn't think the comment was pedantic at all. I thought yours was actually.

A lot of people define exercise as either some sort of rigorous structured activity, or something that makes you sweat, or something that makes you huff and puff.

A lot of resistance training my do none of those things, but still result in a high level of fitness, including cardiovascular. So, it was helpful to see what exactly the study was referring to.

Conversely, a lot of people "exercise" regularly, but aren't particularly fit when measured against objective metrics.

Here’s another reason it isn’t pedantic. Without being precise, you get headlines like not exercising is worse for you than smoking: https://www.marketwatch.com/amp/story/guid/12511EDC-D4E7-11E...

“Smoking is bad, but sitting around doing nothing is even more deadly, study shows”

That study didn’t show anything like that!

Also if you're body starts to fail due to diabetes or kidney disease your cardiorespiratory fitness drops as well.

How do you propose that someone attain a high degree of fitness without regular exercise?

Would it be insufficient for a study to tell people to drink more water even though we know it's not the action of drinking water that helps us, but the cellular interaction with it once it's inside us? And even though people could connect saline bags directly to their nervous system?

So, I'm wondering what you're clarifying.

> How do you propose that someone attain a high degree of fitness without regular exercise?

There are some personal factors involved, two people performing on equal level on the treadmill test does not imply they exercise with the same regularity.

For example, I use my mountain bike for exercise, but on the treadmill I'll probably be beaten by the person that exercises by jogging even if we exercise with the same regularity.

I think it's more that regular exercise isn't sufficient to actually have a high degree of fitness. If you exercise regularly but still over eat with a terrible diet then you're likely not going to actually get fit.

It’s true that the positive effects would be lessened, possibly. Anecdotally, however, I’ve seen several dozen professional athletes eat like trash while maintaining an elite level of fitness. Turns out the body is fairly good at efficient nutrient synthesis, having done it for millions of years in sub-optimal conditions.

My work provides a gym, and I go there for at least an hour every weekday. I'd rather do poorly at work then skip exercising to be honest. I see some of the older employees coming in trying to reverse the effects of a sedentary lifestyle and I do not envy that position. It's crazy how people will deprioritze their health. It should always be a person's #1 priority to live as long as possible.

Of course, diet is also a huge factor as well. I stick to an intermittent fasting routine unless I can devote more time in the gym to bulking. I think fasting and caloric deficiency have some promising research behind it, and I think intuitively it makes sense that our ancestors would be eating only intermittently and probably never enough to put on a lot of weight. My nutritionist cautioned me, however, that there's still no scientific consensus and it still has a fad smell to it. It also takes quite a bit of mental discipline.

Also, if you're struggling with getting fit, GET A PERSONAL TRAINER AND NUTRITIONIST. You could not do more with your money than get professional help in steering your body in a direction that works for you. At the end of the day, you have to do what's right for your physiology and these trained professionals no how to make that easy for you.

"It should always be a person's #1 priority to live as long as possible."

Living as well and as beneficently as possible might be higher priorities. The older folks with the desk jobs are often quite literally sacrificing their own well-being for their family's, "deprioritizing their health" for another priority.

"You could not do more with your money than get professional help in steering your body"

You could donate to help poor people survive, to help sick people get well, to heal the natural environment, to educate children, to encourage peace and justice, to strengthen your community, or to advance knowledge.

This is very misguided. If you get old with no exercise and deteriorating health, it's gonna fall upon your family to take care and worry a lot about you. It's immediatist if not selfish (by not wanting to face the different kind of discomfort) to do as you say.

Being strong helps everyone around you passively and actively, with stronger effects as the decades pass by, and remember from other research that a strong body keeps a mind keen, with better blood flow for all functions. Sacrificing that is not being smart about helping people.

Last and less scientifically, if you want to heal your environment and community, first heal thyself. It's the only subject from whom you can guarantee cooperation.

>If you get old with no exercise and deteriorating health, it's gonna fall upon your family to take care and worry a lot about you.

No it isn't, just off yourself when you feel like the time is right. I don't get why everyone wants to stretch these years out until the bitter end and would rather end up in a home than just taking a nice walk one day and not coming back.

I suspect this plan might be rather upsetting to friends and family.

Further, I suspect you wouldn't actually do this. And then you're a terrible burden to others.

The Lotus Eater by Maugham is a good read on this theme: http://facultyweb.wcjc.edu/users/jonl/documents/LotusEater.p...

I agree with you 100%. I think I’ll just get more reckless as I get older and start to deteriorate. Pick up activities with a higher probability of death. I’d rather die skydiving or in a sailing accident than from chemo.

Your first priority should be taking care of yourself. Remember the plane safety demonstration? You always put your own mask on first, even if it seems selfish.

You're in the best position to help others and make good decisions when you feel stability in your own life. Making sure you'll be around a long time also makes you last longer as a resource to society, and to your family.

You can't do any of those things you mentioned if you're dead, sick, or miserable.

Ya right. I work with politicians day to day. You have no idea how much society would benefit if they all died in their 60s.

How about before they get elected?

I don't buy that 100%. At some point you will get old and sick enough that you risk becoming a huge resource drain. It may sound heartless but I am saying it imagining myself in that position and saying no to millions of dollars in medical treatment for a few more months/years of misery and pulling the plug instead. The benefit for my kids/family would be huge.

Then look at it like this: the better you take care of yourself, the less likely you are to have a severely degraded quality of life before your luck (or health) runs out.

Lives are long and pass through many phases. We will all be dead, sick, or miserable someday, and one hopes we will be cared for as we cared for others and taught them to care.

This also applies to eg. rescue workers. Rescuing the rescuers is not just embarrassing, it also uses up so many resources!

I love the kind of discussion you can see on HN, but this is splitting hairs. He clearly means in the context of making yourself healthier and fitter.

Virtue signaling? Your main priority should always be yourself. No one, except yourself, will look out for you.

You don't have anyone else looking out for you? Imo it's give and take. You look out for others, others look out for you.

(That said, it's wise to ensure you have yourself taken care of before helping others; else you may end up making things worse. )


Apparently, family planning is rocket science.

What is your rational definition of "appropriate resources"? Public school? Public school in a better but more expensive district? Extracurriculars? Tutoring? Private school? Fully supported university education? Love is not rational... it's giving your all and more for someone that matters.

Workaholics are not inherently good parents, but good parents do go the "extra" mile to improve their child's life.

It's not. Saying it is doesn't make it so. Neither does thousands of people choosing misery for themselves and their children. Just like physical health, people very much want family planning to be complicated, because it allows them more room to rationalize short-sighted, self-gratifying decisions.

Appropriate resources are resources that give you the space to be healthily present for yourself and your child. It means time and money, or more specifically, the money to buy time.

Love is not having a baby. You can't love someone who doesn't exist, and making someone to love if you don't have the money to take care of you both is equal parts selfish and self-defeating.

This is the quote you responded to:

>The older folks with the desk jobs are often quite literally sacrificing their own well-being for their family's, "deprioritizing their health" for another priority.

We are not talking about impoverished one-night-stands having babies out of ignorance of contraceptives. These are tech workers who are well-off but still intentionally sacrifice their long-term quality of life in order to improve their children's.

I will probably fall in that group, I had to work through college and want to ensure my child does not. It's a probabilistic utilitarian argument, my cumulative change in quality of life gained from switching to a less demanding career is less than what my child gains from the freedom to explore more opportunities in college (plus my joy at seeing their happiness). Of course, love is an essential part of that calculation. I would not make those sacrifices for some arbitrary child.

Remember that while family planning may not be rocket science, it does require coverage or money for contraceptives, a doc who'll prescribe them, a guy who'll use the condom or get a vasectomy, and the ability to get an abortion if the above fail. In many parts of the US that's not so easy. https://harpers.org/archive/2016/12/with-child/

I was with you up until "donating to the poor". Does that include feeding those who dont want to work but could and should? Unless we're talking about donating time to guide and counsel, to awaken them, and if they're on the right track, supporting them.

How does donating encourage justice? What is the definition of justice? It's the light which reveals 'what is' in a society. That is not accomplished by donation alone, and in fact, generally it's easier for the opposite to occur. One can draw the conclusion that to donate without confirming how it's used is equivalent to a misdeed.

You could, for example, donate to an organization fighting for justice like the ACLU or SPLC.

It'd be just great if you gave some of your self-care time to guide and counsel.

People try in their own ways. So there are some organizations who do good. But they cannot revive justice after it has gone to sleep, in these circumstances. Would you play a game someone has rigged against you? Are those organizations capable of undoing what has been set in motion and of redesigning the game at this stage?

Secondly, what self-care time? lol

> It's crazy how people will deprioritze their health.

> Also, if you're struggling with getting fit, GET A PERSONAL TRAINER AND NUTRITIONIST.

There are tonnes of people out there who are just scraping by, who have to work two exhausting jobs, who have to spend all of their free time looking after kids, etc., who can't afford the gym, let alone a personal trainer and nutritionist.

If you have the time and money to do those things, then they are very good ideas. But they are out of reach for an awful lot of people, so perhaps try not to view the people who don't do this stuff as people who are making insane choices.

I'll warn that that advice is like "get a therapist". They're weakly regulated/certified titles, and there are many people calling themselves as such offering terrible advice and plans.

I don't think they're worthless by any means, good ones are great. However, you need to carefully vet them rather than trusting their advice by default to the degree you might (or should be able) to trust a doctor or the like.

The primary function of a personal trainer / nutritionist is not the advice they give, but that they force you to show up at the gym and keep track of what you're eating. It's 90% outsourcing of willpower and 10% knowledge.

If you're treating that as their primary function, you're just throwing away money, tons of money.

If you decide you want to work out and eat right, take responsibility for it and truly make the personal choice. Or buy a couple of self-help books to learn some techniques. E.g. The Power of Habit. It'll be orders of magnitude cheaper.

This argument is a bit self defeating. You can easily replace the information a personal trainer gives with a standard training program and YouTube videos that show proper exercise form. You cannot easily replace its willpower function with a book.

That doesn't work for most people, so they put money on the line.

A regular personal trainer at a top gym is $12k/year. That’s not that much. It’s approx $23k pre-tax which isn’t a game changer tbh.

You do realize that for an average American that’s half of their annual income?

But we aren’t average are we, Bruce?

I worked as a GMAT/GRE tutor for a while. The same was true in that field.

This doesn't describe the fast majority of out of shape people. Poverty has always been an issue, but obesity and poor health from a sedentary lifestyle is a very new issue.

“Would it not be better if they spent more money on wholesome things like oranges and wholemeal bread or if they even, like the writer of the letter to the New Statesman, saved on fuel and ate their carrots raw? Yes, it would, but the point is that no ordinary human being is ever going to do such a thing. The ordinary human being would sooner starve than live on brown bread and raw carrots. And the peculiar evil is this, that the less money you have, the less inclined you feel to spend it on wholesome food. A millionaire may enjoy breakfasting off orange juice and Ryvita biscuits; an unemployed man doesn't. Here the tendency of which I spoke at the end of the last chapter comes into play. When you are unemployed, which is to say when you are underfed, harassed, bored, and miserable, you don't want to eat dull wholesome food. You want something a little bit 'tasty'. There is always some cheaply pleasant thing to tempt you.”

― George Orwell, The Road to Wigan Pier

I see you are down voted, but there must be some truth to this. In my group at work there are a couple of other guys the same age as me - mid 40s. I cycle to work and am in decent shape for my age (resting pulse around 60). The other two are overweight and look a lot older than me. They must be paid well enough and they clock off at 6pm. As for poverty - most of my exercise is cycling to work. The bike saves me money - I have had it for 7 years and it originally cost less than a years worth of public transport.

You’re not wrong, but I know a lot of people who just don’t prioritize it in even though they could. Sure, people scraping by to make ends meet don’t have this luxury. But the people that go to happy hour all the time and then complain about not having time to excercise just don’t have their priorities correct in my opinion

There are a lot of people who use not enough time, money, etc as an excuse. If your doctor told you the only way for you to see another year was to get in shape and eat right, how would you prioritize then? Would you still go to the movies? Go out for drinks and food?

For the people who absolutely can't afford it, there's a lot of good information for free online. My point is that for many of us, we treat professional help as a luxury or explain it away rather than embrace it as a necessity.

The real wealth in life is your health.

> For the people who absolutely can't afford it, there's a lot of good information for free online.

There's also tons of it that's downright horrible or outright dangerous. The simple truth is that most professional help in the US is out of reach of most people unless they're willing to take on a significant debt the their salary doesn't support. It's not as clear cut always as "health is most important" -- it's not even clear how much any given procedure will cost two different people with the same insurance for the exact same process.

>If your doctor told you the only way for you to see another year was to get in shape and eat right, how would you prioritize then? Would you still go to the movies? Go out for drinks and food?

Maybe not a good example, as if my doctor told me the only way to see another year was to basically cut out a few pleasures in life, I'd just bite the bullet on this one, and I imagine quite a few others would also. This isn't suicide ideation or anything, it's more just a value judgement; how great will my life be during that year? Right now, without the mental stress of imminent death in my mind, an enfeebled life or one that just racks up a huge bill for those legally closest to me seems pointless.

Ultimately I agree with you that we can make time for ourselves -- an hour walking is better than no time walking, and if you can convert that into 15 minutes of jogging, even better. It's the same time we spend watching our shows on Sunday, and I think we can at least do that for ourselves.

But as someone who loves to cook, hates takeout, etc, there are days when even I just don't have the usual energy to go through and prepare a proper meal or to put the hour into my regularly scheduled run: 12+ hour days do that to you.

"For the people who absolutely can't afford it, there's a lot of good information for free online. My point is that for many of us, we treat professional help as a luxury or explain it away rather than embrace it as a necessity."

Only that the good information is often vague and mixed in with horrific information. Or is grand information for someone in decent shape but horrible advice for you in your health condition.

I'll add that there is more to it than simply getting the right advice. There is basic equipment. I'm not talking about anything fancy: For example, I wear an odd bra size. I'm thin and have large breasts. I have not had surgery to enlarge them. I have to buy at specialty stores here (Norway), and could not find my size in stores in the states (indiana). A regular bra is expensive.

I've never had a sports bra that fits. I often can't find them large enough and the ones that come close and actually offer some support are expensive - plus I have to order them. These are, in general, $60-$100 each. I have a similar issue with bathing suits, so even if I had free access to a pool, I couldn't actually use it.

Shoes have been an issue in the past as well. Buying the cheapest shoes possible, I was wearing through shoes withing 2-3 months and trying to keep them for 4-6 months. This is without exercise putting additional stress on the shoes.

The other issue I found with such things while being poor was hunger. Even if I walked, had an active job, and/or wasn't too strenuous with motion, increased hunger was an issue. $25/week for food doesn't go far. Especially not in a house with bad heat (60 degrees if it wasn't too cold out). More activity meant that I was miserable more simply due to hunger.

OP: article linking a study suggesting a strong correlation between exercise and mortality

Top reply: I really really like to go to the gym, and I fast because I think it's really, really good. Get a personal trainer

You forgot "and therefore everyone else should too."

Yes, you should! Take care of your body!

Call your mom!

You got downvoted even though you were funny

> “It should always be a person's #1 priority to live as long as possible.”

Why? I personally don’t want to live as long as possible, definitely not if I develop some kind of neurodegerative disorder. I’d honestly be happy with 65. I don’t see too many people over the age 65 who I envy.

Diet and exercise are big contributors to preventing heart disease, but when it comes to things like the vast array of cancers it’s mostly luck or the draw. You can do everything right and still die at 40.

I wonder if there are any large scale, long term regressions that attempt to get at exactly how much diet and exercise contribute to extending life. I get the feeling that outside of heart disease it doesn’t contribute as much as one might hope it would.

You sound 'young.' When you start looking 50 years of age in the eyes, your attitude will assuredly change. Like with everything in life, there's a balance. You actually need to work-out more as you age than when you were young.

Mid-30s. My attitude definitely has changed. When I was younger I thought different. I thought I would want to live forever, and figured I could if I did all the right things. The older I get the more I realize that it’s luck that determines the majority of outcomes. I’ve been surprisingly lucky, literally zero health issues in my life. But I see what happens to the people around me and it just seems like mostly luck. When my luck inevitably ends I don’t think I’m going to want to stick around.

The fittest people around me seem to actually be the most miserable. Arthritis, bad headaches from whatever fad diet they are doing, agitation from fasting, various food sensitivities, back problems, etc.. Antecdotal of course, but that’s my experience. There’s probably some confirmation bias here too, as people seek out fitness as a way to compensate for various conditions.

I just don’t know what to make of it. I’m not saying you have no control, I just think it’s vastly overstated.

> The fittest people around me seem to actually be the most miserable. [..] back problems

This caught my eye. Back in highschool I rollerbladed for fun, a couple times a week. During that period, and for years before that, I had pretty regular soreness in my lower back, for no apparent reason, which would persist for most of the day.

Then in college I stopped rollerblading and gained about 30 pounds, ticking over into the "overweight" BMI category, and the soreness completely vanished. Since then, ~10 years ago, it's only reoccurred a couple times.

Since it was still gone during breaks and back home after college, all I can figure is the extra fat added some support or padding that's stopped whatever was causing it.

That's a very shortsighted statement, but I can see where you're coming from.

I thought the same way when I was in my late teens/early twenties. Was a way for me to justify unhealthy food, smoking and alcohol.

Now I'm 30 and slowly realized it's not true. Living healthy when you're young doesn't have short-term reward. But I'm pretty sure when you're 50+ you'll be happy that you ate healthy, exercised and had a way to deal with stress (e.g. meditation).

If you're mentally and physically fit, you can do as much with 65 as you do with 20 today.

Also, I believe that our understanding of how sicknesses work and tech advances, we'll be able to live much longer. So, in 40 years from now, 65 might just be "middle-aged". Heck, it's even possible that you'll never have to die if you don't want to.

I’m older than you. When I was younger I thought you had more control over your health. Now I realize the amount of control you really have is minimal. It seems like a crapshoot. I see older people who did nothing to take care of themselves doing just fine, and plenty of fit people whose health is surprisingly bad.

I see some people over 65 who can do what they once did, but they are the exceptions.

I see how diet and excise impact heart disease. That’s obvious, particularly in the extremes. Other than that… it seems like the genetic lottery determines the majority of outcomes.

Of course you could be perfectly healthy and then get a bad disease, or get run over by a bus. But life is about probability.

And living healthy increases your probability of living a longer, healthier life. And as this study shows, it increases it by a significant factor.

Of course, the wonderful thing about life is that you can make your own choices. And if you don't want to eat healthy and work out, and are fine with the consequences, that's totally ok.


That crosses into personal attack. I assume you didn't mean it that way, but we ban accounts that do this on HN. Please make your points without resorting to it.


> "If you're mentally and physically fit, you can do as much with 65 as you do with 20 today."

Can you, though? You're definitely long past your peak physically and in terms of testosterone. I don't know if intellectual decline is a factor at that age.

You can definitely still do a lot, but I don't think you can come close to your abilities at age 20.

Yeah, I mean it'll be harder to become a professional athlete or something, but you can surely do 99% of what people normally do in their lives.

There are definitely 65-year-olds who are fitter than some of the 20-year-olds you see :-)

I will be 65 in a few months. I did my first ever dead hang strict pullup about a year ago. Lately I can do six. This time next year, probably twelve. It is fun slowing or reversing sarcopenia, which is mainly a societal result, not a genetic curse.

Roger Daltrey famously said "I hope I die before I get old" in 1965.

He's 74 now...

That's essentially Trump's response to climate change haha. We're already screwed so let's just keep on the same track. Personally, I find that nothing in life is certain, but I certainly thing that we can increase our statistical chances of success by making good decisions.

Also, you'll certainly feel different about dying once you are 65.

reminder that getting a professional trainer and a nutritionist is a luxury, you can easily learn how to diet and exercise off the internet the way that people learn programming

How many articles on programming techniques have you seen that were written by non-programmers, by people who are just writing about coding in order to try to sell you hardware, or by kept spouses, programming to justifying their existence, and to have a 'job' to tell people about at cocktail parties?

Fitness and nutrition information is drowning online in a sea of woo.

It's so funny but it's so true. I do feel it takes a similar degree of ad hoc research though, if you have the ability to learn how to program an app with certain degree of complexity then I believe you have the capacity to search, find and judge information pertinent to fitness and diet. Of course, it's not as easy as googling "how to be fit" and clicking on the first 5 articles.

Your priorities may not be the same as everyone else’s. I think there is a certain moral incumbency on people to remain healthy for the benefit of others, but that only goes so far. Cost of maintaining life is an issue: just because there is some intervention that could prolong an individual’s life, doesn’t mean it’s not prohibitive for that I dividual to take it for a variety of reasons. Financial burden is obviously one, but let’s take up the primary case you seem to be arguing, the sacrifice of other pleasurable activities. Some people find exercise excruciating, either due to physical limitations or just because. If we lived in a world where taking forty lashes a day prolonged life, but only with great suffering, would it be so universally recommended?

I think you're taking the argument to a moral extreme which really does not help much. You could say that reading, or thinking critically, are excruciatingly hard for some ... would you say that they should just give up on it, despite the benefits that it provides to a person?

The argument for exercising seems to be similar.

To be completely fair, I have a more visceral reason to agree with the OP in that I too have been quite alarmed by how obese some of my older coworkers are, and that has contributed pretty strongly to my desire to not be that way.

> It should always be a person's #1 priority to live as long as possible.

Not for me. Living healthy yes - and then dying quick and painless. I don't care if that happens with 50, 60 or 70. Another 10 years to go would nice, still.

> unless I can devote more time in the gym to bulking.

I have experience with IFing as well as with bulking. And if you ask me - especially with respect to the specific reasons why IF is good for you - bulking is one of the worst and unhealthiest things you can do to your body.

> that there's still no scientific consensus and it still has a fad smell to it.

Do you not feel the difference? When bulking I feel heavy and bloated - it's tiring. Especially when dirty bulking - eating crap just to get those additional calories? Pushing and squeezing more and more food through this delicate and soft tube (your gut) in your stomach. It's more like plumbing than eating.

Having said that - I might do some bulking again at some point - but for aesthetic reasons - not because I believe it's good for me.

>It should always be a person's #1 priority to live as long as possible.

I think your number one priority should be to avoid suffering.

Then one could just die and be done with everything.

it’s always on the table.

often we stay alive because dying would cause others suffering.

That's not much of a reason. Why don't we convince them to kill themselves too.


> It should always be a person's #1 priority to live as long as possible.

Then a career change may be one of the most effective ways towards that goal. An environment where your employer provides a gym may be a bit too stressful...

When you get into your 50's, unless you've won the genetic lottery, you need regular exercise or things will go badly wrong if you also have a tech industry workload. I nearly died ignoring that. Now I exercise every day, usually on my bike or a rowing ergometer. Less need for caffeine, better alertness. The time spent is returned in better productivity.

The only problem I see with this kind of pitch is these days hospitals, docs and the pharma industry keep physically inactive people alive decades past their expiry date.

Put bluntly, exercising creates new mitochondria in your cells. Since disease is often due to low cell energy (making cells underperform or malfunction), it makes sense that adding mitochondria (=adding ability to convert cellular energy) is very beneficial.

Here is a quite technical paper on exercise and mitochondrial biogenesis: http://m.jbc.org/content/282/1/194.full

I wonder if we can have a pill to maintain high level of mitochondria in all our cells in background.

It seems that modern humans have a lot of power-saving traits which are active deterrent as of now when food is abundant, since they lead to obesity, muscle loss and mitochondria problems here. Other mammals don't seem to have such problems en masse.

Co-Q10 definitely helps keep mitochondria healthy, fasting should also help. Also, avoid certain antibiotics that are known to damage them (mitochondria evolved from bacteria, so that‘s not too surprising). Avoid overtraining and stress in general, as they are very susceptible to oxidative stress.

Our bodies evolved to be a lot more active than the average person today. I would be surprised if it's the only thing that exercise helps and as such I would be skeptical about how beneficial a pill would be.

Well, too bad, we need to find ways to change those settings.

Exercise can be pretty enjoyable if you find a way that suits you. Personally I can't stand the monotony of the gym, but I love mountain biking or white water kayaking. The later has benefited me in my life so much - it has taken me to amazing countries that I doubt I would have visited otherwise and I have made some amazing people through the sport. There is no way that a pill could compete with that.

> It's crazy how people will deprioritze their health. It should always be a person's #1 priority to live as long as possible.

My #1 priority is to achieve my goals and have fun. If that means I die earlier so be it. I do exercise in ways I find fun, but I will not go to a gym and lift weights just because it increases my chances of living long enough to enjoy my pension.

The real challenge in life is not to live the longest, but to have lived a life worth living.

Do you also not brush your teeth?

Strength training can be as simple as doing one of squats, pushups, or pullups every day. Work towards 2-3 sets of 10-20 reps. Add weight (or reduce assistance) as necessary.

You've just made a huge difference in how your body feels, and it takes as much time each day as brushing and flossing your teeth.

I floss once every two days and convincing myself that spending just that extra amount of time on oral hygiene is worth it took years.

I exercise by riding my mountainbike up and down hills. Which I find to actually be fun instead of feeling like I'm wasting my time.

I've also done team sports during my student years, which was also a case of getting exercise while having fun doing it.

Some people have fun doing gym exercises and that's great for them. However I don't think you'll ever convince the majority of the population to hit the gym or do home exercises just to stay healthy. We should find more ways to make all kinds of sports more accessible, so everyone can find the method of exercise that they enjoy.

I agree with you, but someone couldn't do the squats portion at home without a squat rack, right? Or substituting something like pistols.

I definitely think all homes should have a pullup bar. They can be had cheaply, and easily attached to doorframes. A good way to add quickly pulling motions for $30.

Do body-weight squats to start, but do more of them. Then grab a couple 30lb dumbbells and hold them while you squat. If you can do 100 squats holding 30lb dumbbells, you are way ahead of the curve.

Fair enough. Structurally, are dumbbell squats safe like barbell squats? Or are they only good at lower weights?

I may try higher rep dumbbell squats, I've been looking for a way to workout purely at home. Is there a deadlift targeting version too?

Dumbbell squats are safe, but I don't like doing as much weight as I do with bar squats, because I find 60+lb dumbbells very hard to manage.

I also prefer using one dumbbell held with both hands (e.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x3siyLMUr_Q) to holding a dumbbell in each hand. I think its easier to maintain good form engaging the posterior chain, but ymmv.

I've never liked deadlifts personally, so I'm a bad person to ask. I tend to target lower back with back extension machines, or supermans if no machines around.

Why, and what does that mean? Rampant hedonism? Human intellect fails miserably at justifying existence at any level. If we look at what people have valued historically, health does seem important.

You can switch fun to whatever you find meaningful or whatever you want to optimize for. Optimizing for longevity is one option, but you would never go full in on it (would you kill an innocent child to live one second longer?). So why would it be surprising that weight assigned to it varies among different people?

Btw I agree with him, I think that's what you really want, but you want your fun. Not fun as perceived by other people. It does not necessarily mean pleasure.

I think the point being stated is that exercising shouldn't be seen as a means to an end for living-the-longest-life.

I think these headlines promoting exercise for long term benefits might do more harm than good, people have a hard time doing things for super delayed gratification.

I exercise because the immediate effects are evident on my mood and wakefulness. It just feels good to exercise. The first couple of weeks/months consistently going to the gym maybe took some more discipline, because everything feels weird at first. The elliptical. These machine contraptions. It's unfamiliar. But once you're used to it, it's smooth sailing. You don't have to be so strict about it...just do it until you're comfortable and then go when you feel like it.

Another note, keep in mind it is MUCH easier to maintain fitness than to build it. When it comes to weight training, I was serious about it for a couple of years following a plan I found online. Since then, I lift weights a few times a month and have mostly maintained the strength/appearance from the time of consistency.

So the study measures relative fitness on the treadmill and associates that with cardio respiratory health - but isn't this pretty much just the two sides of the same coin? If you measure 1000 people's performance in some fitness exercise - isn't it obvious that the result will correlate with the observable health?

There's a gentleman who spends an hour or so every night walking around the neighborhood. He's usually watching something on his phone as he walks, and he always smokes a cigar at some point.

I've always wondered if he'd be better off not exercising and not smoking that cigar. I guess now I know.

Well, cigars surely cannot be in the same category as something you inhale.

Of course they inhale. If not trough cigar then trough second hand smoking which is proven to be even more harmful.

How can second-hand smoke be "even more harmful" than smoking? That just doesn't make any sense...

Because you inhale the smoke without a filter.


This is a misunderstanding of GP's confusion, probably due to the effect being terribly named.

What caused GP to raise the question, and why I mention the effect's name, is that secondhand smoke also affects the smoker themselves. So the total effect is always going to be worse for the smoker than the people around them - they get both the filtered and unfiltered smoke.

However, your link is going for the consent angle - that the people around the smoker are being terribly affected by something they didn't choose. Note it also specifically states "nonsmokers who are exposed to secondhand smoke", not generally that secondhand smoke is worse. What's frustrating is that their reference is a dead link that redirects to an unrelated article, that doesn't include what's supposedly sourced from it, so it's hard to tell what their baseline for "25 to 30 percent greater risk" is, but I'm guessing it's nonsmokers with no exposure at all.

That said, I also remember seeing some claims that the filters actually make it worse than commonly believed, that particles or fibers break off of the filters and damage the lungs directly.

Probably not. If that combination means that although he's doing one thing unhealthy, yet getting two healthy things in return (exercise and stress relief), he's just getting more risk for a few other things.

They're not really comparable.

What good is being fit when you die in your 50s from lung cancer?

Comparing them is what this article is about. By the measure of all-cause mortality, exercise is more important than not smoking, according to these researchers.

Cigar smokers typically don't inhale. It's more of a oral cancer risk.

Cigar smokers don't inhale through the cigar, but they inhale, just like second-hand smokers inhale.

It is less worse though. Cigar smokers do have quite a bit lower rates of lung cancer.


I wonder what if those who were not performing exercises were already not well in some ways which compelled them to not exercise in the first place.

People that are fit tend to take care of themselves in more ways, like for example, eating healthier food consistently. So I doubt it can all be simplified to exercise like the article claims.

Does it seem possible that the distinguished, experienced scientists and doctors who conducted the research thought to control for other factors, including well-known ones such as the effect of diet?

I'm not talking about the study itself, but about the CNN article.

This approach is interesting because, if you ask people "do you go to the gym", you are faced with the fact that 90% of gym attenders actually do not train, but pretend to train. So instead the treadmill test is a much better predictor I guess since it meters the results of your training as athletic performance.

I took a new job in January that is mostly desk-bound and promptly gained 10+ pounds (5kg). I'm at my heaviest ever: 170# (77kg). So last weekend I went hiking with some friends on a trip I instigated a couple months earlier, with no preparation. Its my favorite hobby, but my pack was too heavy, body too flabby. In the swamps of South Florida (Myakka for the locals), it was flooded and brutal and I about died. If I want to enjoy life, planning out body care is just one of the requirements. I've also noticed I'm tired more, sicker since this job started. I know why, same old story: Diet & Exercise.

It’s also possible that you’re more tired and sick because of the workload’s burden on the body.

A book on barbell work for older (> 50y/o) adults defines a particular symptom set as "Sick Aging Phenotype". Diabetic, overweight, and physical inability are hallmarks of that symptom set.

One of my aims as someone who spends his work hours sitting is to avoid that fate. This is largely within my capability. I can choose to invest regularly in my enjoyment of life down the road. I can't control all sorts of things in life; but I can control if I can find time to swing a kettlebell.

Interesting survey but it doesn't really separate cause and effect - you could be rubbish on a treadmill because you are ill rather than via versa.

What I am missing here is what they call "performing badly on treadmill"

I run a mile or two each day, but I am still obese and frankly old and unfit. What is the criteria they are using here? Five minute mile pace? Ten minutes? Can't actually walk a mile?

Probably a CPX test.

Not sure how can they claim this. As an anecdote If I see around me and including my family, relatively healthy people, mainly women, live longer even if they don't do any exercise. Beyond the anecdote this is an observation that can be checked with basic stats information. These are averages! https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_life_ex...

I'm confused as to why you think the article you cite supports your claim.

I am saying that the article claims are ridiculous based on averages.


Walking a lot = exercise

Not exercising could be caused by some other underlying health condition.

I have not yet seen a study which can say with good confidence "Exercise makes people healthier".

Sure you can say "People who exercise are healthier", but establishing cause and effect requires an intervention experiment.

I suspect the commonly held belief that exercise is good for health is true, but it still seems to be bad to publish it as advice so widely without the cause/effect established.

...and then we see that exercising an hour per day (7.5 hours or more per week), which people trying to lose weight often do, can cause damaging calcium buildups in your heart, especially if you are a man [1]. So we're damned if we do and damned if we don't. I really hate these conflicting studies.

[1] http://time.com/4987426/too-much-exercise/

That is, unfortunately, how science works in almost any nontrivial case - you get a number of studies that are contradictory or weak with simpler hypotheses, people modify them to account for the dissonance, run more experiments, rinse, repeat.

It doesn't help that our observability of biological systems, while better than it's ever been before, is still p. bad in situ.

7.5 hours or more per week of gym is an extreme amount that elite athletes might think twice about, not to mention that it's not recommended by anyone. Where is the conflict?

That article itself says: “This [study] doesn’t apply to 99% of people”

> 7.5 hours or more per week of gym is an extreme amount that elite athletes might think twice about

I personally have plenty of friends that run, swim or gym session for an hour 7 days a week.

Elite athletes are doing more like 2-5 hours per day. My brother in law runs ultra marathons (just for fun), and runs somewhere between 1-3 hours every single day of his life. For fun.

I personally do more than 7.5 hours of "exercise" but all the people I know doing 7.5 hours of "gym" are highly injury-prone.

I guess the article doesn't make it clear what counts.

I'm trying to lose weight. I am doing approximately 7 hours per week...an hour per day of exercise isn't particularly hard to reach. I apparently fall in the 1%, and I'm not remotely close to being an "elite athlete," nor do I feel like I'm do anything extreme.

That is not supported by the article. "Even if hardcore exercisers do have more calcium buildup, it’s still not clear if that’s damaging the heart..." The article states calcium build up in the heart is a bad sign for sedentary people and that it is not clear what it means for healthy people.

There are similar syndromes/symptoms that mean different things for people with different activity levels - folks who do aerobic exercise a lot have larger hearts than sedentary people, the enlarged heart can be a symptom of very serious problems - but mostly for sedentary people.

"Even if hardcore exercisers do have more calcium buildup, it’s still not clear if that’s damaging the heart..."

First, I'd argue that an hour a day is not "hardcore". Anyone trying to lose weight can easily fall in this category, including me currently. Second, the actual underlying study upon which this article is based seems to indicate that calcium buildup is bad for everyone. Time Magazine went out and found someone who gave a quote contradicting the study, but that was the whole point of my comment.

Different studies and individual researchers have different views on all of this stuff. Some say that lots of exercise is bad, and others say it is great. The point is that nobody knows, but everyone seems to be be publishing studies advocating for a given position.

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