The results keep pouring in.
The titles are often exaggerated, sometimes misleading, occasionally downright wrong. But that’s journalists for you. You gotta read beyond the headlines.
Even without reading beyond the headlines, however, the general trend is very clear: Exercise is good for you. Even in large doses, it is certainly better to be exercising than not exercising at all.
Thus the question I ask in the title: Do we really need more evidence?
As a scientist, I understand that there cannot be absolute certainty. It is a matter of “degree of confidence.” And it is difficult to tease apart the effects of various lifestyle decisions in something as complex as health. So I cannot begrudge researchers wanting to do more research, needing to clarify (or identify) causality among the sea of correlations that past research has brought to our attention.
But no matter how much clarification and specific causality determination still remains, no one is claiming that exercise is NOT a good thing for you. On the contrary. That’s pretty much the best, most agreed-upon, common denominator to all the research out there (on the subject of fitness and health). There is a lot of confidence.
So for you and me, normal folks, it truly is a no-brainer: Exercise. Move. Regularly. Everyday. The more, the better.
But because it is always fun to do (and it provides good fodder for a blog), here are a few recent conclusions from articles published on the subject.
First of, it really looks like exercising is not only good for increasing the odds of long-term health, but it is also a really good idea if you are sick or have suffered from a serious illness.
Then, if you are getting older (and who isn’t?), exercise can really help keep your head in better shape, not just your body.
Speaking of which, I’d be remiss not to mention this really interesting piece of research about the effect of diet, particularly greens, on cognitive health. I do love my greens, even though I promote exercise first and foremost.
There’s a passage in the summary of that particular article that is worth copying here:
They followed participants for 2 to 10 years, assessing cognition annually with a comprehensive battery of 19 tests and adjusted for age, sex, education, smoking, genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease and participation in physical activities when estimating the effects of diet on cognitive decline.
By the way, when a researcher talks about “adjusted for (…) participation in physical activities” to estimate the effect of diet, it means that exercise was already understood as an important contributor to health (high correlation between exercise and health) and what is being looked for is the remaining contribution of diet. Get it? Exercise comes first, diet comes later. Just sayin’.
In closing, let’s go back to one of the earlier things I hinted at: Even if you do “too much” (and the exact definition of “too much” is unclear), you are still better off than if you are not doing any. So exercise, regularly. Vigorously at times.
That’s a no-brainer for which your body (and your brain) will thank you later.
You think my section titles are backwards? Answers first, then questions? Nope. Answers always lead to other questions. At least if you are serious about asking questions.
Do we really need more evidence that exercise is good for us? Ok, we know the answer to that. It is a resounding “no!”
Do we really need more evidence in order to get us moving more? That’s a different question. The answer is also, probably, no.
So what do we need, if not evidence, to get us moving more? That’s a far more intriguing question.
Perhaps it has to come from our emotions? Perhaps it is simply a commitment? The big stick of Discipline, or the easy persuasion of our Purpose?
I don’t know for sure, and it probably depends. And it is a good question to finish with.
One thing is certain: It is what I’ll spend my next post talking about…
Picture from Pixabay.