I'll attempt to uncover a few of the myths perpetuated the fitness/health industries over the next few posts.
Myth Number 1, Cardiovascular Health is improved by Exercise
The 1984 book, The Exercise Myth, by Henry A. Solomon, M.D. a cardiologist, member of faculty at Cornell University Medical College and physician at New York Hospital. (he's now retired).
The truth about exercise and cardiovascular health is far from the picture painted by government guidelines which tells us to increase our activity to prevent disease. The Sugar Bureau, yep you heard me right, recommend "Getting, and keeping, physically active is the single most important thing for preventing CHD. In fact, being inactive doubles a person's chances of developing CHD. The current recommendation is that everyone should aim to accumulate 30 minutes or more of physical activity over the course of most days of the week. However, a recent study has reported that it doesn't matter whether the exercise is broken-up into three lots of 10 minutes a day or one continuous session of 30 minutes for it to improve cardiovascular health. In addition, research shows us, that the exercise does not need to be strenuous to confer a benefit to the cardiovascular system. Gentle ‘aerobic’ exercise such as walking, cycling, swimming and dancing, can be effective in reducing the risk of CHD."
We are taught that exercise prevents coronary heart disease (CHD), but the evidence just isn't there. CHD develops despite people engaging in exercise and sadly those who exercise still die of heart disease.
Highly recommended source - The Exercise Myth, Henry Solomon, M.D., Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Publishers, New York, NY, 1984 (out of print but you can get it via my healthchek.info store on the last page).
Do we ever see wild animals (ones that eat a proper carnivore diet, not our pets that get fed carbs) engaging is sustained periods of cardiovascular activity to maintain perfect weight and perfect health? They use specific energy bursts to hunt and ensure their survival, either grazing and only running when they need to escape the hunter. Or in the case of the hunter, running to catch dinner. Running (and cardio in general) causes a stress response in the body, its fight or flight at work and has little to do with improving health. Theirs been a local 10k race recently and all I've seen on facebook and twitter is ill health and injury since people competed in it.
Why would you get conned into believing you need to jump on a treadmill or take part in aerobics/body-pump or other generic classes? When I started working at my first gym I'd not actually been a real gym user before and was the picture of health. I felt vital, healthy and fully energized. This changed quite dramatically by the time I'd began teaching (I hadn't studied too much back then) 3 spin classes a week. I ended up fatigued and unhealthy despite following all the recommended guidelines for both diet and exercise.
We're also recommended to make carbohydrates the basis of our diet, despite physiology textbooks clearly stating carbohydrates create a massive insulin (fat-storing) response. Carbohydrates are needed in our diet but should always be consumed with adequate fat and protein for ones metabolic type (MT). The modern world is suffering an epidemic of disease, diabetes, CHD, and a whole host of other diseases because of excessive carbohydrate consumption are on the rise. The sugar bureau I mentioned earlier exists to protect their business interests and they invest a serious amount of cash in ensuring that they can prove they aren't to blame. No body is saying carbohydrates are bad, its just to proportions that people recommend that cause such ill health.
The Textbook of Medical Physiology (also available in my Healthchek Store) describes that "it takes 40 days of running an hour a day to lose just one pound of bodyfat." Its no wonder that running completely fails as a weight loss tool. Exercise has the effect of making the heart larger and more powerful as it pumps more blood per beat. As the heart beats slower the process of oxygen transfer isn't improved, so theirs no benefit there. The size of the artery is increased which can delay (longer fill time) clogging but still doesn't prevent it CHD, it just delays the inevitable. Mitochondria, (the powerhouses of the cell act like a digestive system that takes in nutrients, breaks them down, and create energy for the cell) are increased but but this doesn’t increase oxygen transfer so still no benefit. Marathon runners frequently die of heart attacks despite seemingly doing exactly what is suggested. Exercise does not prevent heart disease or increase life-span.
More people than every in history are engaged in exercise, gym memberships are at an all time high and we now eat lower fat than at anytime in our history, yet CHD, Obesity, diabetes and Cancer are more abundant than ever before. Why when your doing everything right, is disease on the increase? Our ever increasing consumption of processed carbohydrates is the driving force behind disease. Sadly the government continues to push high carbohydrate consumption down our throats, whilst telling us we're lazy and that we need to exercise more. The problem is, exercise can't answer the problems caused by incorrect human nutrition.
Dr. Kenneth Cooper, the founder of aerobic training has finally admitted that he was wrong. He started all the unsubstantiated theories of ‘aerobic’ training, however 25 years later further research has shown that there is "no correlation between ‘aerobic’ endurance performance and health, longevity, or protection against heart disease." He also admits that "aerobic" training does carry with it a great risk of injury, and that "gross overuse activities such as running may be so damaging to the body as to be considered carcinogenic."
Sadly his story is continuing to be told around the world and most people, including the exercise teachers and instructors you PAY for advice, are blissfully unaware of the reversal, and still insist that you continue to “keep burning the calories” and get into your “target heart rate zone.”
As discussed in a previous post, an ideal heart rate would be 85 beats/per minute (bpm). Peat states that unhealthy individuals tended to have rates under 70 bpm. 85 bpm x 60 minutes) = 5,100 beats per hour = 122,400 beats per day and they want us to get the heart beating more?? It just doesn't make sense but then what does in the medical/fitness world.
Numerous studies debunk the very notions sold to us but in April 2004, a Harvard University study showed that during a 12 week study those on a low carbohydrate diet that ate 25,000 more total calories than those on a high-carbohydrate diet and didn't gain any weight, whereas the carbohydrates eaters gained weight despite eating fewer calories. During my very first nutrition/exercise courses (thank you YMCA for making it look so daft that I questioned it straight away and went elsewhere for my education) I was taught that calories consumed minus calories burned = the key to maintaining weight. The fitness/health world had no thought to different foods, so 2000 calories of sweets (candy) in their eyes was the same as 2000 calories of chicken.
For those who aren't aware, we don't eat calories. They are just a term to describe a measurement. We eat food (or some of us do). Calories are a unit of heat equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree at one atmosphere pressure (complicated isn't it?, sadly it has little to do with human function).
This is thermodynamics which sadly has little to do with the human body. The food we consume is converted in to substances and structures that we need to utilize and sadly we don't function via heat production like they teach us via the calorie method. Adolph Fick proved in 1893 that our living cells are not heat engines and in the words of Nobel Prize-winner, Hans Krebs, “Fick made it clear in 1893 that living cells cannot be heat engines…” Herman Taller, M.D, author of Calories Don’t Count also states that, “One could assert with absolute certainty that the calorie theory has no scientific basis whatsoever”
This brings us back to my most quoted quote, its a favorite that I often use when people bring out daft research to argue a point. “It does not matter how smart you are, who made the guess, or what his name is – if it disagrees with real-life results, it is wrong. That is all there is to It.” – Richard Feynman, Nobel Prize-winning physicist.
I've consulted with over weight vegan's consuming as little as 600 calories a day, women who have followed low fat to the letter yet remain overweight, a man who spent 25 years following the British Heart Foundation guidlines and avoided red meat and butter, yet still had multiple heart bypass operations, aerobics instructors and PT's who are shattered and struggling to control their weight despite putting in the hours at the gym, and athletes who have put on weight and suffered poor performance despite completing huge amounts of cardiovascular exercise.
The theory that our hearts gets stronger and more efficient is weird. Does a car get better by punishing it at high speed day after day? Or does it respond well to the correct fuel, oil and correct usage? We don't come with a manual (we should and I can write you one if you want) so we rely on what we're told. Sadly industry clouds the facts and we don't get an accurate picture of what is honestly needed to be healthy.
A 1981 study “Distance Runners as Models of Optimal Health”, was performed on 50 competitive runners and found that blood pressure increased, rather than decreased. Dr. Elrick, from the Foundation for Optimal Health
and Longevity commented “... that daily vigorous exercise does not protect people from hypertension (high blood pressure).”
Elrick, H., “Distance Runners as Models of Optimal Health,” Physician and Sportsmedicine 9,no. 1 (Jan.1981): 64-68.
Exercise is also targeted as being good at reducing cholesterol despite research such as that by Dr. Elrick concluding that exercise “does not guarantee low total cholesterol or high HDL (the so called “good” cholesterol) cholesterol values....”
In 2004, a major pharmaceutical company spent hundreds of millions of dollars in an attempt to show that their drug, increased HDL and therefore decreased risk of CHD. It didn't.
Londeree, B.R. et al., “Effects of Increases in Training upon Blood Lipids
and Glucose Related Variables,” Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise
Keys, A., “Alpha-lipoprotein (HDL) Cholesterol in the Serum and the
Risk of Cornoary Heart Disease and Death,” Lancet 2 (1980): 603-606.
Money makes the world go round, and if industry wants results to favor products then they can buy the research that they need. I've consulted with many clients on cholesterol medication, that are engaged in cardiovascular fitness programs, that are avoiding meat, butter (real foods) in favor of manmade oils and low fat products (I saw a new advert last night with Vernon Kay advertising Flora Cusine which disgusted me) and they are still suffering ill health? Are they just the unlucky ones?
As I've said time and time again, nutrition is the key to health. What we shovel into our mouths dictates the health we receive. We all have the power to control our health and to hit the pharmaceutical companies where it hurts? If we learn to listen to our own bodies and return to the foods that got us this far (we managed to evolve this far without flora cuisine and whole-meal bread) then we have a chance to regain the ability to maintain our health rather than rely on being medicated.