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Taking exercises 'easy and slow' is best for physical longevity

Running & Fitness
Saturday, October 24, 2020

My wife sent me one of her finds from the web about the five exercises a person should not do. It was interesting reading and had me wondering why I am still able to walk and get around since I did all the exercise exactly opposite of what was recommended.

The first no-no was everybody’s favorite from high school physical education classes, the “Burpee. Evidently this exercise is bad for the knees. I look back at doing ‘duck walks’ around a football field as a favorite torture from my coach. Then the Army Fitness test had me doing ‘Squat Jumps’ to get the legs in shape. And in Little League Baseball I thought the teammates that were at the position of catcher must have knee replacement by now. And the same is true for women who played catcher on their softball team. 

The second worst exercise on the list was “No Excessive Cardio”. Instead of all that aerobic exercise a person needs to add a weight training program two or three times a week. That leaves a maximum of only four days for cardio exercises. I look back at my running days with all the friends that ran almost every day and wonder how they are doing health wise. I imagine some of them are using walkers and wheel chairs now from all that aerobic exercise.

The third exercise on the list I am not familiar with. The fad in recent times is “Hot Yoga” and the risk of heat exhaustion and high blood pressure was a reason for avoiding this practice. The recommendation is to do the standard form of yoga without the hot room. This sounds logical, but then I remembered I live in South Central Texas where the temperatures during summer months as being close to, and in some days, above 100 degrees. That seems about as close to ‘Hot Yoga’ as it can get.

The fourth exercise really struck home for me. Avoid ‘running’, especially fast running. This hard running is just too hard on the body and can lead to injuries. I imagine if you fit the category of ‘running for fun’ and not entering a 5K, or 10K, race to win an award this might be okay. I started out thinking a pace of a 9 minute mile was good. Then my time dropped down over the years to a 6 minute pace in 5K and 10K races. Marathons dropped close to a 7 minute mile pace. The recommendation was to not run fast, or hard, and add bicycle riding and weight training days in your fitness routine. I look back at all those days of running intervals on the track to get faster and wonder where this advice was when I did all that running. A couple of years the miles reached over 2000 miles completed. I have to admit my fast running days are behind me and walking is more my speed, but I think that is because I did too much of the fifth bad exercise.

The fifth exercise that is not recommend is “Do Not Lift Heavy Weights”. I wonder how I ever made it this far in life from all the lifting I did. From high school (when the coaches told me lifting weights will make you muscle bound and ruin your athletic career) all through college and beyond. I did the Olympic Lifting most of the time and got to the point that I could lift 300 pounds over my head weighing all of 165 pounds. Then in my senior years I tried Power Lifting and was squatting over 400 pounds at a young age of 64 years. It was at that point the recommendations started to become true. Between marathons, heavy lifting, and add a few falls in gymnastics and wrestling, my one knee started to give me trouble. It turns out I wore out the cartilage and was advised that a knee joint replacement was on the future if I kept doing heavy deep squats. So, I quit. About 14 years later my hip started to hurt. I had to have a hip replacement. When I was asked what the cause was I just replied, “It just plain wore out”

So, if you want to avoid problems as you get older the advice for exercise is, “just take it easy and slow”. I wish somebody would have told me that 70 some years ago when I started all those wrong exercises. And the same goes for all of the coaches I had for the different sports. I guess I will just have to live with the knowledge that I did it all wrong, but had a great time when I did it. And in the November issue of Reader’ Digest in the World of Medicine section, it states that high intensity exercise boosts the memory most. Maybe I have something good going for me after all.

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