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How Important is Exercise?

10/2/2008 5:24:54 PM

Tags: Exercise, weight loss, cholesterol, blood pressure

Exercise is often touted as a kind of golden ticket to health and longevity: lower blood pressure, weight loss, lower cholesterol levels, even improved energy, to name a few. And from doctors to weekend joggers, it's easy to find those who will attest to the health improvements they've gained from getting physical. But according to Does Exercise Really Keep Us Healthy?, exercise alone might not deliver the stellar results you might be hoping for. Now, before you gleefully shred that gym membership and head for the couch, note that the last sentence says "exercise alone." Here are a few points: 

  1. "While exercise has undeniable benefits, many, if not most, of its powers have been oversold."
  2. "Physical activity alone will not lead to sustained weight loss or reduce blood pressure or cholesterol."
  3. And, my personal favorite, "More intense exercise has been shown to provide only slightly greater benefits." (Italics mine.)

While I'm not giving up my daily walks, I love anything "official" that says I don't need to ramp it up and go running. Once again, the moral of the story seems to be that good health relies more on overall lifestyle — including diet, physical activity, not smoking, etc. — than on any one magic silver bullet.

Read more about exercise benefits vs. exercise hype in Does Exercise Really Keep us Healthy?, from The New York Times.



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