Regarding the endorphin hypothesis, there's another parallel hypothesis which is that the good feelings of exercise are just a symptom of oxygen deprivation in the brain:
Altitude-chamber tests have shown that as oxygen deprivation
increases, some victims experience a sense of increasing
well-being, even euphoria, while they’re losing the ability
to function in a thoughtful, coordinated manner.
I find the whole tracking and logging weights, reps and feelings while working out to be daunting and pointless. Maybe it's because I am not a "I'm going to start working out and dieting" type person, rather I just live a healthy lifestyle by design. I don't "diet", I just try to eat healthy in general. I don't have a "work out routine", I just try to be physical every day. It makes the whole exercise process more a part of my natural life, rather than something I have to schedule.
I enjoy going to the gym and getting a good workout, doing whatever I feel like at the moment. The important part to me is working up a sweat and getting my heart pumping, not how many reps with a certain weight I did. I can see if you have a goal of weight loss or increasing your strength to a certain level that can be measured by numbers, but if you are aiming for general health, why do you need to keep a detailed log? Just try to exercise everyday, regardless of what that includes.
If you do keep a detailed log of your workouts, what kind of actionable data does that information provide you? Do you refer back to it daily, weekly, monthly and try to optimize your workouts based on your previous history? If so, how?
It's no surprise that if progression is not your goal then logging is not for you.
Of course that's me. It might work for you though. In my coaching experience I find, that most people are not objective enough (or have a good enough memory) to work like that.
Tracking calories on paper vs in your head is a similar objective/subjective mess for most people. The mind is very good at deceiving itself.
If your goal is "general health" and you're doing okay, you're lucky (or you should set harder / more specific goals!) But as an example, I thought I was eating well, but when I started tracking my calories for a few months, I realized I had underestimated my daily calorie intake by about 400 calories, and I was still eating way too many carbs for what I considered to be a "low-carb" diet.
I'm also on Fitocracy (was using spreadsheets before) to track weightlifting - tracking is a necessity for lifting IMO.
As a side note, I do like tracking how much I walk, but not for debugging, but for motivation. I'd like to hit a 100 miles before the end of the year just by walking at lunch, but for no other reason that personal pride I guess.
While much of the discussion here is focused on tracking activity, I want to mention that we at Fitocracy consider tracking secondary to the social experience the app and site provide. We believe that the key to long term success isn't about numbers on a screen but rather, making fitness a part of your identity and every day life through spending time with people and communities just like you. I highly recommend you check out the social aspects of the experience if you download the app :)
Takes a few seconds to fill out in between reps.
I'm sure there are useful, simple apps, but you don't need an app to track.
As others mentioned, tracking lets you make sure you're increasing your lifts. I never progressed consistently until I started tracking, and slightly increasing each time.
If your argument is that the comment didn't add much to the discussion, I'd reply that yours added even less.
I find that by logging workouts and measuring progress, I am much more likely to improve and know by how much I improved. Logging workouts can also save time. By logging my workouts, I know exactly what my target goals are for my next workout, so I can get in and get it over with instead of wasting time doing what "feels right" at the time. This works great for me, but YMMV.
I used it to run experiments for my self quantification project. I even have an work-in-progress essay about it too: http://kibabase.com/articles/self-quantification
Granted, I can't do much with a sampling of only 1 person, and I only finished one experiment after collecting 30 days worth.
"I believe this endorphin in runners is a total fantasy
in the pop culture," said psychobiologist Huda Akil, Ph.D.,
from the University of Michigan.
The endorphin theory had several problems, the most serious
being that endorphins are too large to pass through the
blood-brain barrier that border-patrols your gray matter.
Boecker, H., Sprenger, T., Spilker, M.E., Henriksen, G., Koppenhoefer, M., Wagner, K.J., Valet, M., Berthele, A., Tolle, T.R. (2008). The Runner's High: Opioidergic Mechanisms in the Human Brain. Cerebral Cortex DOI: 10.1093/cercor/bhn013[http://cercor.oxfordjournals.org/content/18/11/2523.full]
a better way to express himself could have been "[X] study has demonstrated...".
That's exaggerated. It's simply a reaction to increased level of effort. It's not always a full-fledged fight-or-flight response, unless it's a quite strenuous type of exercise.
> The first 20 minutes of moving around, if someone has been really sedentary, provide most of the health benefits. You get prolonged life, reduced disease risk — all of those things come in in the first 20 minutes of being active.
Makes sense. Exercise a little every day, even if it's some very mild form like walking. Laying down on the couch all day long is bad.
> Makes sense
Does it? I'd say the last twenty minutes of exercise is what counts - it's the difficult part.
If you're doing cardio for VO2 max or endurance training, end-of-set effort generally counts for more (though a proper warm-up sets you up for success).
For skill activities, cumulative experience matters, but form breakdown with fatigue limits single-session gains. Going flat-out all the time isn't beneficial.
For weight training, hypertrophy (size/mass increase) seems to be based on time-under-tension and total volume (so that last set matters), while strength and power training rely on motor-unit recruitment and/or speed, both of which are maximized when you're relatively fresh.
Even for hypertrophy and endurance, there are diminishing returns to additional sets. Somewhere between 3-5 sets for a given exercise and you're not going to see much additional advantage. A training session may include other movements to stimulate muscle from different angles, at different ranges of motion, or independently of other synergist/agonist muscles.
The article is discussing one aspect of one form of exercise. The conclusions it reaches (happiness / mood influences of cardio) aren't generalizeable to either all effects or all forms of exercise.
If it's for health and well-being, it's the fact that you're doing anything at all - hence "the first 20 minutes" rule.
I feel brighter (not in the intelligence sense but in the photonic sense). That is, I feel like I'm pushing positive energy out into the world instead of negative energy. It has been a fairly subtle shift over the last 3 months, but in my mind it is undeniable.
1. Start small. It's much easier to talk yourself into exercising for 10 minutes 3 days a week.
2. Exercise at home. I hated going to a gym so I never did it.
3. Do something fun.
All of these made it much easier to exercise consistently, which was my goal. I stopped running and weight lifting and started doing yoga, cycling, rock climbing and boxing instead. I'm not ripped or anything but I have plenty of functional strength and more energy and happiness than I've ever felt before. I'd say yoga and biking give me the most long-lasting pleasure, whereas rock climbing and boxing give me a quick intense flood when I'm done with them. It's really great feeling like this...most days I feel ready to do something crazy and fun like bike to wine country for wine tasting, or spend time in a wood shop, or go to another country on a whim. Last year I felt like I peaked at going out to dinner with friends a couple times a week (and I barely had energy for that). I also don't miss the mid-afternoon lazy slump or the weeks where I'd feel like my thinking was foggy and there was no way to clear it.
I also think it's a great way for entrepreneurs to exercise their minds. The full Ironman is extremely long and takes long term determination. It's not something you can simply hack together (as some people do by minimal training and walking 6-hour marathons). So in a way it allows me to go through a long term process of building up my body (i.e. a company) and make tweaks along the way to improve the performance. I can't tell you how many times I've failed along the way and get better as a result.
Although there is no real way to quantify this, I would say my ability to focus at work as drastically increased. I much more confident and happy as a result.
Curious - anyone else on HN do triathlons?
I have no issue with folks dedicating themselves to do a triathlon. Maybe you do one a year and everyone understands what you're up to and supports you for 12 weeks etc. That's not how it often works though. I do think it's odd that society glorifies what is really obsessive/compulsive behavior that takes over much of the waking day for the participant and materially impacts their relationships with those around them. And no one who has actually done a triathlon here can honestly tell me it isn't the first thing they think about when they wake up and doesn't impact how they schedule their work and social calendar every day vs the other way around. Well(they can but that would be the denial part that comes along with the behavior.
I still think the best way to learn to be an entrepreneur is to be an entrepreneur.
If you enjoy a specific sport or activity, enjoy it for it's own merits. Rarely do things like marathons or Ironman or sports make sense just as ways to keep in shape - unless that's the only thing that will motivate you.
So what I am saying is that sports are great on their own, no need to justify them by assuming they "build character" in other parts of your life.
My guess is that success-oriented people do triathlons, not that triathlons produce success-oriented people.
This necessarily means that a triathlete is not performing to his/her ability in any single sport. For example, a good time for the marathon portion of an Ironman is 2:40-2:50, but a competitive marathon time is 2:05 or faster. Just to add additional perspective, a good marathon time for an amateur runner is 2:30, faster than what a topnotch triathlete would be expected to pull off.
That's not a good time for an amateur, it's an insanely good time for an amateur. The world record is currently 2:03:38. A 2:30 would have put you in 22nd place (out of 26,000!) in this year's Boston Marathon.
I am not thinking of dabblers; many people will do marathons after having barely trained. The goal for these people is just to finish.
I think 2:30 is achievable for a healthy, moderately talented man who is not merely dabbling: someone who is training correctly and has put in a few years of sustained, injury-free effort.
2:30 is still very much an amateur time. For example, I think that even though 2:15 or faster is professional-caliber it is still nowhere near being competitive.
I do want to point out somewhat pedantically that it takes being in better-than-2:30 shape to run 2:30 on the Boston course, a notoriously slow course. There are runners who ran more slowly than 2:30 in Boston when they could have run 2:30 elsewhere.
The downside of triathlons is the expense, bike, gear, shoes, wetsuit (in most areas), etc.
I agree with your point about it getting you ready to be an entrepreneur. The plus side is that staying in shape makes me better at everything.
I whole heartedly agree. My point is that it gives you a framework much like building a business is; to create a mind and attitude built for winning in a long-term competitive atmosphere. Too often I find myself trying to find the easiest way out of a problem. It's nearly impossible to do in the longer distance triathlons.
I do want to remark briefly on what is admittedly a minor point that you made, namely that triathlons are highly recommended "... even if just doing sprint/olympic/half distance." It is a common misconception that the longer the distance, the more difficult or meritorious it is to complete. However, this is not true: It is not the case that one races an Ironman at the same intensity that s/he would for, say, a sprint-distance triathlon; rather, in order to last the entire duration of the longer distance, s/he is racing less intensely. (A person who performs a sprint-distance triathlon at the intensity s/he can hold for an entire Ironman is not racing the distance.)
Let's go to running for a concrete example. A topnotch overall pace in the marathon is 4:50/mile. But a miler will run a single mile in 3:50, a whole minute faster than marathon pace. (Note that these are typical competitive times rather than world-record times.)
With all this said, I would be remiss not to say that I agree with the overall sentiment that one should take baby steps rather than brashly pursuing unreasonable goals.
In response to your final question, I haven't done triathlons since college. At the moment, I am working on getting into shape to finally break 5:00 for the mile run. Next up is breaking 1:00 in the 100-meter swim. I'm still figuring out what a reasonable goal is for cycling... maybe 5 miles in 10 min.?
After I have all the pieces, I'll put them together and start doing triathlons again :-).
John Ratey is a famous Harvard psychiatrist who wrote Driven to Distraction. In Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain (http://www.amazon.com/Spark-Revolutionary-Science-Exercise-B...), he explains how intense aerobic exercise, like sprints or interval training, will generate the fuel that grows your brain and makes you smarter, and puts your brain chemicals in balance to improve learning esp if you have a history of partying, stress, anxiety, etc.
I have been running several miles a day for a few months, and then last week I started running sprints and noticed an immediate effect.
This is the routine I've been doing: I've been running in a field about the size of a soccer field. To start off I jog half the soccer field and then on the second lap I sprint the length of the field (about 50 yards) and then jog the remaining part. Then walk a lap to catch my breath. So one interval is three laps -- one jog, one jog/sprint, one walk -- at first I did that 4 times, and then increased it to 5, 6, 7, as you get better. When you sprint, just pump your arms and run as fast as you can. Do that 3 times a week -- every other day to let your brain and body recover. On off days, jog a few miles. He gives more details in the book.
I used to struggle to jog a mile at a slow pace, now I'm training for a marathon.
However, the mental benefits are key. So the reframing matters to me. If the purpose of cardiovascular exercise was just to run a marathon, it'd be a waste.
"Exercise Does Not Make You Less Depressed (bmj.com)" http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=4446400
Exercises produces self-confidence, alters self-image and lifts self-esteem. This results in more realistic self-image (less self-delusion and reality distortion) which, in turn, decreases the pain (emotional weariness) caused by cognitive dissonance (when facing reality). This makes you happy.
Go ahead, and tell us where the one ends and the other begins..)
Edit: Oops wrong link: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2012/05/120510-runne...
In my experience, it takes a week or three of keeping to the schedule, and then I start noticing that I'm just really upbeat & feel great, even though I'm sore.
Yeah, exercise is free but only if your time has no value.