This week yet another study has come out unnerving us about our health and lifestyle choices. We’ve been told that our exercise routines are all wrong and could, in fact, be putting us at higher risk of death.
The article, published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, reports that vigorous jogging is as bad for you as doing no exercise at all. Looking at 5,048 healthy participants in the Copenhagen City Heart Study, researchers questioned participants about their activity. They picked out 1,098 healthy joggers and 413 healthy non-joggers and monitored them for 12 years.
The study found that those who jogged from 1 to 2.4 hours per week at a moderate pace were least likely to die, while the fast-paced joggers had almost the same risk of death as those who did not jog at all. Even more interesting, was the finding that those who ran more than four hours a week or did no exercise at all were at the highest risk of death.
So what does this tell us? If you’re running hell for leather for more than four hours a week you’re on death’s door? Not necessarily. According to the NHS, ‘the results are not as clear-cut as the media has made out.’
In a reactive article published yesterday, the NHS pointed out that ‘a major limitation to this study was that once the joggers were split into groups by duration, frequency, and pace, some individual groups – particularly the most active groups – were much smaller.’ As a result, the analyses are less able to find differences between the small group, in comparison to the larger sedentary group.
Commenting on the study, GP Juliet McGrattan said:
“It’s important to look at the detail of the study to see why the claim made in the media yesterday is misleading. The number of joggers in the strenuous jogging group were very small compared to the other groups.
“The fact that 2 of the 36 of them died is not necessarily significant. We can’t be clear that it was the strenuous jogging was responsible for the 2 deaths.
“We also don’t know what the general fitness, health and well-being of the whole jogging group was like compared to the non-joggers. It wasn’t studied. Any runner or active person will tell you that they enjoy life more feeling fitter and healthier. None of them would return to a sedentary lifestyle.
In light of the new study, Juliet reminds us that physical inactivity is responsible for 1 in 6 deaths and that such a study should not be used as an excuse to not bother exercising.
“The nation needs to be encouraged to get active, not given an excuse to remain on the couch”, she says.“In fact, it’s estimated that the cost of physically inactivity to the country is £7.4 billion a year. Public Health England have recently published, “everybody active, every day”, to try to address sedentary behaviour, improve health and save lives and money.”
Juliet rightly points out that “too much of anything is bad for you. Everything in moderation, as they say.” Whilst Juliet agrees with claims that it is important for runners not to push themselves too far, she reminds us that physical exercise is beneficial to our health and should be encouraged.
“Inactivity is a big killer. Any form of jogging is classed as vigorous exercise and the current guidelines on physical exercise encourage it. Always build up your exercise frequency and intensity slowly. See your Dr if you have concerns about your health, but whatever you do, please get off the couch!”