My friend Amelia sent me this link the other day, and asked an interesting question. The article examines the results of two studies that show evidence of a link between long-term endurance exercise and scarring (fibrosis) in the heart muscle. Amelia wondered what kind of effect the article might have on the obesity epidemic.
At first glance, it’s alarming stuff–exercise can damage your heart. Uh-oh. We’d better all back off.
Articles like that make me want to smack my head against a brick wall. I really hope other media outlets don’t pick up on it.
Go read it, then come back and I’ll tell you why you can ignore it.
Okay–are you back? Are you worried, now, that your morning run is going to kill you? Don’t be.
I’ve run four marathons (er–three and a half, actually), plus I’ve done one Ironman triathlon, some ultra-distance cycling, and a bunch of shorter-distance stuff. In the course of training for and participating in all those events, I’ve met a lot of distance athletes. And for everyone who pins on a race number, there are three or four or eight folks in my neighborhood who work out every day, rain or shine, just to stay fit. Out of all those people, I’ve met exactly three fifty-states marathoners (those are people whose goal is to run one marathon in each of the fifty states). It took them years to get all fifty.
I’ve never met an Olympic marathoner, or a 100-club marathoner. There just aren’t that many people at that level of ANY sport. The people in that study were the elite-of-the-elites. They’ve run many, many miles, every day, for decades. Of course that kind of lifestyle has had an impact on their bodies–humans weren’t built to run like that.
But we were definitely built to move–a lot more than the vast majority of Americans do, at this point–and I worry that this article will be just the kind of excuse some people use to justify doing nothing. As far as I can tell, there’s much stronger evidence that a sedentary lifestyle will kill you.
So when this article is being touted by the well-meaning-but-sometimes-alarmist folks on the local news, or in your local paper, or in that weird newsletter your life insurance guy sends out every quarter–just ignore it.
Whatever you do, DON’T STOP EXERCISING.