Like all generalisations, the exceptions disprove the rule. In this case does smoking, snorting cocaine or injecting heroin in moderation apply? Certainly not. It probably applies with eating and drinking but what about exercise? Is strenuous exercise good for one’s health?
This maxim is often bandied about as a justification for behaviour that is clearly suspect or injurious to one’s health. Yet those protagonists of its use would never use this saying in other contexts where they disbelieve its veracity.
Aside from those activities which are clearly inimical to one’s well-being, a beer or a glass of wine or two a night cannot cause any harm. Unsurprisingly perhaps this adage will be abused by addicts to justify their consumption of two bottles of wine per night! Their attitude will be predicated on their belief that anything under 5 bottles per night cannot be deemed excessive. The fact that red wine contains healthy properties will buttress this belief.
Certainly most foods will also fall into this category. By the same token, the antagonists will however aver that aspartame in artificial sweeteners is deadly even in miniscule quantities while genetically modified foods are demonised by alluding to them as Frankenfoods. Neither assertion in the fullness of time will prove to have any scientific basis in fact. Thirty years of the use of artificial sweeteners and thousands of years of genetically modifying plants and animals over the millennia has caused an epidemic of undiagnosed ailments.
Oddly enough exercise has never been subject to the belief that moderation is satisfactory. In most sporting codes sporting endurance challenges have created a cachet all of their own. In South Africa this role is filled by the Comrades. For a male living in South Africa, it is almost a rite of passage to mention that one has completed at least one. Only with a Green Number can one claim one’s right as a true male.
Personally having struggled my way through Comrades, I can avow that even though I did finish it in under 11 hours as was the high standards still maintained in those days, it extracted a toll on my body. It was plainly a “bridge too far.” Being a true-blue South African male, I yearned to be able to run it as effortlessly as a Fordyce. But my body forbade such risible notions.
Now the Times magazine has published some surprising results. Researchers studied 1089 healthy joggers and 413 healthy but sedentary non-joggers over a period of 12 years. Two aspects of the jogging was simultaneously measured viz the intensity – the speed – and the quantity. In both cases more over the prescribed limits was inimical or injurious to one’s health or at least did not improve one’s lifespan or quality of life.
According to Peter Schnohr, a researcher from the Copenhagen Health Study at Fredericksberg Hospital in Copenhagen there was a definite upper limit in exercising in order to obtain optimal health benefits. This level was believed to be only exercising twice or three times a week.
As regards intensity – that is speed – a sedate pace of around 8 kms per hour was considered optimal whilst over 11kms/hour was considered harmful.
Even though it is not stated, the range of values would also clearly depend upon other factors such as weight as well.
Needless to say, the majority of sedentary non-joggers reading these articles will indubitable smirk in their self-delusion that they need never put on their running shoes and go for a jog.
What those sedentary readers would feign amnesia about is that they are just as great a health risk as those joggers who are running too much at too great a speed.
So unless they have ceased to read this article at this point, the overwhelming evidence is that moderate jogging has immense health benefits for participants.
To prove their point, they will even be so deceitful as to tear off the bottom three paragraphs when forwarding this article.
It does however imply that the winners of the 1000km Challenge are doing their health a disservice as well. Again, like the sedentary coach potatoes, they will not be tone deaf but stone deaf to this argument.