I read an article in the Wall Street Journal this week about some new findings regarding the impact of exercise on heart attacks and health. Contrary to what you might think, it now appears that “extreme amounts of exercise may be detrimental to health”.
While sitting around all day definitely has a negative impact on your health, it equally appears that there really is a limit to how much exercise is good for you, particularly if you have been diagnosed with heart disease. The study concluded that ”those who vigorously exercised daily were more than twice as likely to die of a heart attack or stroke than those who exercised only two to four days a week.”
This makes a strange sort of sense when you stop to think about it – if you drive a car at top speed every single day, it is going to wear out sooner than one driven only a few times a week, regardless of how much gas and oil you put into it.
Think about the images of professional cyclists and marathoners that you have seen – they are rail thin and sinewy no doubt, but do they really look robust and healthy? For the most part I would submit not; they largely look stressed and hollow from constantly pushing their bodies to achieve unrealistic milestones.
“But they are setting goals for themselves, keeping vital and experiencing the thrill of competition!” you protest.
Perhaps, but they are also experiencing the destructive bitterness of failure and defeat when they injure themselves, fail to make their time, or win the race.
It seems that the further we progress in our lives, the more we are juggling the conflicting factors of our existence:
- Our bodies are older but we are still young at heart
- We want to relax but still feel an urge to compete
- We want to be respected but are less tolerant of fools
- We want grandchildren around us but treasure our solitude
- We can’t sleep at night, but yearn for afternoon naps
- We want to eat cake, or French fries or alcohol but despise ourselves when we do
- We don’t want to die, but we are afraid to live life to the fullest
The longer we live, the harder it is just to maintain a balance between all these opposing mental, physical, emotional and spiritual forces, and yet it is increasingly apparent that doing so, is literally the key to a long and prosperous and youthful life.