Ultimate Fitness

A New York Times science reporter turns her journalistic magnifying glass on the fitness industry, with its exercise mythology, false claims, and poorly structured scientific studies. Her first chapter focuses on the Less is More theory, where studies claim moderate exercise fewer times a week has more benefit to your health than more intense training. She goes on to eviscerate the myth of the Fat Burning Zone, which doesn’t exist. The optimal way to “burn fat” is to exercise at your highest intensity for the longest possible time frame, not to try and keep your heart rate at a specific range of 60% of maximum, or in the “Fat Burning Zone.”
Weight loss is a matter of simple physics. If you take in more calories than you use, you will gain weight. If you take in fewer calories than you use, you will lose weight.
If you want to improve your health, studies have shown that most of the health benefit occurs just from mild exercise, not necessarily the most arduous workouts. Walk briskly 20-30 minutes a day.
Benefits of strength training: more efficient muscles, has more mitochondria, better at using fat for fuel and allowing cells to use insulin to process blood sugar (reducing diabetes chance). How do you start? National Strength and Conditioning Association has tips.
Random odds & ends:
* There is a small percentage of the population that doesn’t see improvement after consistently doing cardio or strength training.
* 1553 was the year the first doctor-authored book about exercise came on the market: Book of Bodily Exercise by Christobal Mendez, who recommended exercises for both men and women. (Walking is best, he said). Walking was also praised in the best selling book in 1745, An Essay of Health and a Long Life by George Cheyne; walking was “most natural” and “most useful.”
* Good fitness research gets lost among the myriad of marketing claims, supplements, dubious diets and programs. But there is valid research involving studies with control groups that look for statistically significant results. The problem is the inability to do a blind random test, where half the group is assigned to exercise over a period of years and the other half must remain sedentary.

auth=Kolata, Gina
sub=The quest for truth about exercise and health