Exercise – More Is Not Better
but Something Is Better Than Nothing

Elizabeth Moxley, PhD, RN, BS​​​, and Assistant Professor at the College of Dupage School of Nursing, shared the following great insight about exercise.

The Pandemic of Inactivity – Physical inactivity is a pandemic. It is the fourth leading risk factor for global mortality and an estimated 40-80% of all people are currently sedentary. The benefits of physical activity have been known since the early 1950s, but the promotion of activity lags with respect to the evidence. Inactivity has become a chronic disease resulting in chronic complications.

The Benefits of Exercise – Exercise has been dubbed ‘the closest thing there is to a magic bullet’. The Nurse’s Health Study revealed the benefits from exercise are lasting; exercise performed during midlife yielded benefits at age 70. Few medications work that well!

The most important question not to ask-therefore, in this day and age is; what do I need to do to for good health, rather; why doesn’t our society exercise enough? Several obvious reasons exist, such as; a lack of time, sedentary lifestyles, diminished resources for which to engage in exercise, not realizing the extent of health benefits, and simply, not knowing where to begin. A ‘too much exercise hypothesis’ has even emerged regarding safe doses of vigorous-intensity and/or high quantities of exercise. The determination of the perfect dose of exercise is not only not clear – it has nearly become a perfect muddle! However, the evidence clearly demonstrates, any exercise is more beneficial than none at all, and some believe more is better.

How Important is Intense Exercise?  –  When considering ‘where to begin’ planning an exercise session involves; how often-frequency, how strenuous-intensity, and, for how long-duration. Vigorous- or high-intensity (HIT) short-duration activity is a recent time-saving solution with impressive health benefits, and the importance of intensity may be underestimated. Since 1975, the ACSM (American College of Sportsmedicine) has gradually decreased the amount of exercise intensity recommended recent decades; a trend paralleling an increased sedentary behavior in our society.

What do the Experts Say?  – According to the Aerobics Center Longitudinal Study, merely 5-10 minutes of running every day is enough to improve health and longevity. For those who currently do not exercise, and for whom vigorous exercise is not an option, exercising at a moderate-intensity such as walking, even of short duration, may be equally beneficial for health as vigorous exercise. Taiwanese individuals who walked 15 minutes a day observed an increased life expectancy compared with those who were sedentary. Researchers in Australia compared vigorous to moderate-intensity activity to see which routine demonstrated the greater heart disease prevention and found walking, depending on duration, may be sufficient to decrease risk. In another interesting study, the effects from extreme exercise quantities of up to 10 times the amount recommended were analyzed, only to discover that these individuals fared no better than their peers who exercised at 3-5 times recommendations.

The Perfect Dose – When all things are considered, a perfect dose of exercise does not exist. But, ample evidence clearly demonstrates that any exercise is better than none at all and those who are currently sedentary and begin regular exercise benefit the most. Moreover, low exercise doses yield substantial benefits; 15 minutes of daily walking or 8 minutes of vigorous exercise like running improve health; and most importantly, this dose is achievable by almost anyone.

The Sweet Spot  – So, when concern mounts regarding where to begin, remember; something is better than nothing and if you currently exercise, any physical inactivity is likely more risky than a low dose of vigorous activity. A ‘sweet spot’ exists for everyone; it is worth finding the prescription.

References

  1. World Health Organization. (2010). Global Recommendations on Physical Activity for Health. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization. WHO.www.who.int/dietphysicalactvivity/factsheet_reommendations/en/.
  2. Kohl HW 3rd, Craig, CL, Lambert, EV, et al. Lancet series working group. (2012). The pandemic of physical inactivity: global action for public health. Lancet, 380, 294-305.
  3. Wen CP, Wai JP, Tsai MK et al. (2011). Minimum amount of physical activity for reduced mortality and extended life expectancy. Lancet, 378(9798),1244-53.
  4. Eijsvogels, T. M. H., Molossi, S. Lee, D-C., Emery, M.S., Thompson, P.D. (2016). Exercise at the Extremes JAMA, 67(3):316-29.
  5. Lee, DC, Pate RR, Lavie CJ, Sui X, Church TS, Blair SN. (2014). Leisure-time running reduces all-cuase and cardiovascular mortality risk. Journal of the American College of Cardiology, 64(5): 472-81.
  6. Lewis, S. F.(2016). “Regular Physical Activity: A ‘Magic Bullet’ for the

Pandemics of Obesity and Cardiovascular Disease.” Cardiology, 134(3):360.

  1. Gebel K, Ding D, Chey T, Stamatakis E, Brown WJ, Bauman AE. (2015). Effect of

Moderate to Vigorous Physical Activity on All-Cause Mortality in Middle-aged and Older Australians. JAMA Intern Med, 175(6); 970-977.

  1. American College of Sports Medicine. (2014). Guidelines for exercise testing and

prescription (8th ed.). Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

 

  1. American College of Sports Medicine (1975). Guidelines for graded exercise testing

     and prescription. Philadelphia: Lea & Febiger.

  1. American College of Sports Medicine (1978). Position statement-the recommended

quantity and quality of exercise for developing and maintaining fitness in healthy adults. Medicine & Science in Sports and Exercise.

  1. American College of Sports Medicine (1990). ACSM’s Guidelines for Exercise Testing

     and Prescription. 4th ed. Philadelphia: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

  1. Physical Activity Guidelines Advisory Committee. Physical Activity Guidelines

Advisory Committee Report. (2008). US Department of Health and Human Services. Available at: http://health.gov/paguidelines.

  1. Arem H, Moore SC, Patel A et al. (2015). Leisure time physical activity and mortality: a

detailed pooled analysis of the dose-response relationship. JAMA Intern Med, 175(6):957-67.

Exercise has been dubbed ‘the closest thing there is to a magic bullet’. The Nurse’s Health Study revealed the benefits from exercise are lasting; exercise performed during midlife yielded benefits at age 70. Few medications work that well!

The most important question not to ask-therefore, in this day and age is; what do I need to do to for good health, rather; why doesn’t our society exercise enough? Several obvious reasons exist, such as; a lack of time, sedentary lifestyles, diminished resources for which to engage in exercise, not realizing the extent of health benefits, and simply, not knowing where to begin. A ‘too much exercise hypothesis’ has even emerged regarding safe doses of vigorous-intensity and/or high quantities of exercise. The determination of the perfect dose of exercise is not only not clear – it has nearly become a perfect muddle! However, the evidence clearly demonstrates, any exercise is more beneficial than none at all, and some believe more is better.

How Important is Intense Exercise?

When considering ‘where to begin’ planning an exercise session involves; how often-frequency, how strenuous-intensity, and, for how long-duration. Vigorous- or high-intensity (HIT) short-duration activity is a recent time-saving solution with impressive health benefits, and the importance of intensity may be underestimated. Since 1975, the ACSM (American College of Sportsmedicine) has gradually decreased the amount of exercise intensity recommended recent decades; a trend paralleling an increased sedentary behavior in our society.

0 replies

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *