jogging is dangerousDr. DeVany’s title quote has haunted me for years; I typically ponder the significance of this deadpan assertion during my morning jog. “Come on, this can’t be dangerous, can it?” I assert that my morning jog helps me enjoy nature, clear my mind for the impending busy day in front of a screen or microphone, and seemingly contributes to both my fitness base and my health.

But only if I go slow!  

That is the revelation I have come to appreciate over decades of devoted endurance training. Walking is perhaps most health and longevity promoting activity of them all, the ultimate human experience of life and planet that our genes require daily for healthy functioning. This is especially true as you age. A UCLA study of the elderly revealed that walking more than 4,000 steps a day makes for a thicker hippocampus, faster information processing, and improved executive function.,the%20Journal%20of%20Alzheimer’s%20Disease“>1 Sedentary folks were found to have thinner brains, lower overall cognitive function and increased disease risk. From a base of frequent daily walking (and other forms of low level movement like yoga), if you are fit enough to jog at a heart rate below “180 minus age” in beats per minute, there is pretty strong evidence that you are boosting health. If your “jogging” routinely drifts above that important MAF cutoff (surely the context for DeVany’s warning), you are likely actualizing the quote and endangering your health.

This article details how I destroyed my health during a six-month binge of high volume aerobic exercise (playing Speedgolf, where you run around five miles while playing 18 holes as fast as possible) after a long layoff from real training. I overestimated my aerobic maximum heart rate by 12 beats (and exceeded that beeper limit on the golf course frequently as well!) and experienced that familiar steady spiral into declining energy and burnout. First, I delivered a free testosterone reading that was clinically low—as in, a candidate for hormone replacement. Next, on the heels of a two strenuous workouts in 100-degree temperatures over four days, I found myself in the hospital with extreme dehydration, a ruptured appendix and emergency surgery. Months of complications and follow up surgeries ensued. Doctors might assert that an appendix will blow out randomly, but I’m certain that my problems were driven by the six-month chronic cardio binge.

With five months of enforced rest and trading my slightly too difficult cardio for easy jogging and walking (after surgeries), I doubled my testosterone levels—going from clinically low to exceeding the 95th percentile for my age. In the aftermath of the ordeal, which coincided with me hitting the big Hawaii 5-0, I turned my attention to fitness goals better suited for longevity: building power, speed, explosiveness, flexibility, balance, and mobility. I increased my devotion to sprinting and strength training, and integrated the wonderful drills and skills highlighted in the basic running drills and advanced running drills videos and morning flexibility/mobility exercises video. I’ve gone from an aging ex-triathlete still capable of jogging or pedaling (increasingly slowly with each passing year) to high jumping at a world class level for my 55-59 age group. Granted, attrition in this event is a driving factor in my positioning in the rankings, but in many respects I am a fitter, stronger, faster human than the narrowly adapted endurance athlete I was decades ago.

Here are some ideas to trade steady state cardio sessions for sessions that deliver broader fitness benefits and are more fun, more challenging, and more rewarding.

What to Do Instead of Steady State Cardio

Morning Flexibility, Mobility, Dynamic Stretching, and Core Strengthening

The sequence of exercises that I present in the video take about 12 minutes, and I’m on a good streak of daily execution for nearly four years now. What’s happened with my recent transition away from my consistent morning jog is that I continue to add more and more fun stuff to the daily template. At first, it’s extremely important for habit forming to design an initial routine that’s easy and doable, meaning short in duration. Once you build some momentum, you can add to the complexity and degree of difficulty of your routine. Today, I burn up at least 45 minutes with an exact sequence of exercises that I repeat every day. I regularly add, subtract, and modify the sequence, but it’s important to have a repeatable routine that doesn’t require creative energy. This way, you can relax and get into the zone of simply counting out the desired reps of each drill and move on to the next. You’ll see this same dynamic in a flowing yoga class.

I’m not suggesting that you squeeze a 45-minute routine into your already busy mornings, but starting small with a 12-minute session can be a great way to broaden your fitness experience. For me, the lengthy and quite strenuous morning routine has pushed my morning jog into the “optional” category. As mentioned in the previous post about the paltry requirement for optimizing aerobic fitness (Dr. O’Keefe’s Goldilocks Zone), shifting from daily jogging to a few per week causes no loss in aerobic conditioning. Furthermore, an ambitious routine of flexibility/mobility drills without break from start to finish is aerobic in nature. I obtain all the cardiovascular benefits of jogging in addition to all the additional flexibility, mobility, core strengthening, and balancing benefits.

Walk – Jog – Jump

We’ll discuss the broad-based benefits of jumping in a future post. Mark says, “Nothing cuts you up like sprinting,” due to the profound genetic signaling that occurs from brief, all-out high impact sprinting on flat ground. Any act of jumping falls into the same esteemed category. You are building bone density, improving the resiliency of your muscles and connective tissue, and sending a strong genetic signal to reduce excess body fat.,the%20Journal%20of%20Alzheimer’s%20Disease

  • The post Don’t Jog, It’s Too Dangerous: Part 2 appeared first on Mark’s Daily Apple.

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