The last exercise column you’ll ever need to read

This is the batchGood fita column about exercise.

It can be difficult to find out how a certain substance or activity precisely affects health. For example, Finnish researchers have been following thousands and thousands of twin pairs for decades, sending them questionnaires and collecting biological samples, such as DNA and fat biopsies from some of that group. The idea is that by looking at genetically identical people who grew up in the same environment, they can isolate how different lifestyles, such as smoking and diet, affect the body over the long term. The effort has produced a deep list of studies on everything from the role of genes in drinking habits, the risk of dieting due to future weight gain and, more recently, the effects of exercise on the lifespan.

That last study found that exercise doesn’t matter that much when controlling for other factors in how long a person lives. In fact, excessive exercise can have a negative effect on biological aging. Overall, the researchers concluded that being active may be a sign that you are healthy for other reasons, rather than being the elixir of health itself. This apparent change is due to and due to the wisdom of so many years other the studies, of course, made nice articles in the New York Post and the Daily Mail.

Personally? I was excited to see this study. Not that it would have done me any good health-wise. (As a marathoner and newly minted ultrarunner, if anything, I fall into the overtraining category.) Nor was it because I believed it heralded a paradigm shift in how we understand exercise. (There are nuances to its conclusions, namely that exercise still has some effect, as does the bone-picking method; it’s also not peer-reviewed.) No, the reason I was excited was much more mundane: I knew I had a column to write, and look , here was an interesting news hook that helped me make my point!

Readers, welcome take part of the Good Fit, Slates series of workouts. It lasted all of 2023. And now, as we had planned from the beginning, we were counting it down. Why? It has been popular. Other national publications are expanding their efforts to publish current, fresh works about training. It is reasonable! Talking about fitness is fun, and that’s why we wanted to do it.

However, our approach was large No Follow the exercise news, precisely for the reason illustrated by the Finnish twin study: Although it gives you a way to continue to package the editorial exercise instructions in new ways, it usually brings you somewhere more confusing, not less. For example, readers of the latest exercise studies of recent years may have been caught up in the short exercise craze, the benefits of which, as recently noted in the popularization of the trend, may have been oversold. Such is the nature of science that it does not march forward linearly towards some kind of absolute truth. And scientists disagree about things all the time, especially when it comes to how we should apply its results to our lives. We’ve messed this up from the beginning, Panteleimon Ekkekakis, a professor of exercise psychology at Iowa State University, told Slate last year about Americans’ tendency to view exercise as a medical task, versus an aspect of life that’s safe. , among other things simply enjoyable.

In the end, I say to the Finnish double study: So what? However the results show, I don’t think it detracts from the core thing us regular people need to know about exercise that we already know. What is that? That exercise is basically good for you. However, the double magazine made me doubly convinced of something that editing Good Fit magazine for the past year has taught me: The best thing you can do is not read more and more about what exercises you should be doing from all sources. who are clamoring for your attention and searching for meaning. It has to accept the well-supported assumption that regular exercise is good, and then figure out what works you from there. And while we felt we had something to add to the fitness conversation, and we certainly will, we will be here in the future when we talk about fitness on a regular basis. So, here’s what we’ve learned this year at Good Fit and are now spending our time implementing:

1. Go slow.

Everything from your fitness watch to your competitive instincts encourages you to speed up and pass the person running/cycling/paddling in front of you. But pushing yourself to the limit in every workout is a recipe for burning out your body, as well as your general enthusiasm for any activity. Instead, days where you go very slowly, maybe even embarrassingly slowly, can give you a chance to recover and just take in the scenery.

You also don’t have to be good at something right away. Maybe even better if you haven’t. Failing at a new kind of exercise and persevering through that frustration is very valuable. Getting things right isn’t even appropriate in some cases. What you’re describing is called yoga-rexia, Paul Grilley, one of the founders of yin yoga, told Heather Schwedel in her quest to make a happy baby right. Do you think doing poses is important? What matters is how it affects your body.

2. You don’t have to buy anything!

OK, sure: whether you’re running or lifting weights, you need the right shoes, the right bra, and basic workout clothes. But Hamilton Nolan writes, there are thousands of different types of heavy, expensive and completely unnecessary exercise equipment cluttering our nations basements, gyms and strip mall LA Fitness franchises. It just feeds into the idea that working out is some special, esoteric skill that you need thousands of dollars to do, versus just getting outside and moving. If you think Nolan is a bit extreme, he is, but also check out one of the latest trends in fitness equipment, the walking pad that lets you walk.

3. Experts often bring their own baggage to what they tell you.

Eleanor Cummins’ post about how yoga classes got so expensive helped me treat myself to (very, very expensive) five-pack private sessions with my favorite teacher last spring. Instructors are good, at least experts, and they are typically paid miserably for the time and energy they bring to class. I’ve also learned in general as a health and science reporter, nothing more than having an expert look at what’s going on in your body versus trying to piece together what’s wrong with your form etc. over the internet.

But it is important to remember that the person standing in front of the class is also human. Former personal trainer Sarah Kurchak, who is also the author of the book Figure it out, explained that the way she sees mistakes made by her colleagues in the gym is influenced by her own relationship with the mistake: During my own fitness journey and just in my general existence as a woman in the world, I’ve internalized criticism of my body and how it worked. I cared too much about criticism of clients, he writes in his article What happened to me as a fitness instructor from my time. I wish Id would be quieter and more helpful about the occasional hyperextended elbow I see in classes, for example. My focus on proper training sometimes veered too close to perfectionism.

4. Your schedule and your body will change. Be open to rethinking things.

There are times in life (pre-children, for example?) when you can regularly attend an exercise class five times a week. And there are other times when the perfect sweep happens, writes Hillary Frey, whose exercise of choice has long been yoga. I stay off the mat for three to six months, even a year, all the while ashamed of my laziness and then ashamed that I couldn’t practice one of the basic principles of yoga: being kind to yourself. He was looking for something sustainable and came up with this: just move. Every day. A little or a lot.

It was his first book in the Good Fit series. Then she got advice from a doctor: as a 50-year-old woman, she needed to add strength training to the mix. In her second Good Fit post, she shared her journey of experimenting with weights and dramatically increasing her protein intake. I have a group chat with three other women around my age that I now call the Menopause Lunch Chat, she writes. His fitness now involves talking to his friends about all the chickpeas they eat. Things change!

5. Sometimes just stop.

OK, fine, I think the Finnish exercise study shows a couple of important things. Exercise is only one part of health (many other parts are factors beyond our control). Increasing exercise may not be healthier in the long term, as Jen Miller discussed in her Good Fit essay, Too Much of a Good Thing, even in the short term. Despite all the marketing slogans encouraging us to push our limits, Miller writes, we are limited and can injure ourselves, whether by attempting a multi-day hike without training, joining the Peloton day after day without rest, or working out. outside during a code red air quality warning.

Last April, she dropped out of a 24-hour endurance race after she couldn’t stop crying. Miller, also a writer Running: A Love Story, realized that she had been out there on the trail looking for something special: I went into the race looking for the after-the-fact relief, praise and reward for letting myself eat what I wanted, sleep, take long, slow hikes with my dog ​​instead of pounding out miles if I couldn’t already ones without the permission that running an ultramarathon supposedly gave me. He pushed himself too far in seeking approval and permission. So he took a break.

Literature and the rest of the world have all kinds of things to say about what you do. But the best reason to exercise is really simple: do it because you want to Thu.

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