We all know that we should exercise more, right? It turns out that the answer is both yes and no. The evidence is very clear. The right types of exercise are very good for us. By exercising in smart ways we can add years to our lives. And importantly, we can increase the quality of each of those years. Unfortunately, the dangers of doing the wrong types of exercise are often worse than doing no exercise. Are you doing the right types of exercise or the wrong types of exercise?
In today’s article we’re going to take a look at some of the common types of exercise that are the wrong types to be doing. I’ll explain the dangers, and I’ll give you some tips for exercising smarter.
Endurance Training Is Bad For Your Health
Many of us equate exercise with endurance training. We think of long-distance running, cycling, or swimming – sometimes hours at a time. Many of the popular exercise machines are designed for endurance training as well. For example, treadmills, elliptical trainers, and stationary cycles are permanent fixtures in many gyms as well as in homes. But sports science and medical studies are clear that endurance training has long-term negative consequences.
Although elevating the heart rate is clearly beneficial for health, the length of time during which the heart rate remains elevated makes all the difference. When the heart rate remains elevated for short intervals of a few minutes at a time, health increases. But when the heart rate remains elevated for longer periods of time, especially for 30 or more minutes at a time, studies show that is damaging to health.
One of the most concerning long term effects of endurance training is that it can actually damage the heart. According to a study published by the Mayo Clinic, chronic endurance training can overload the heart and lead to cardiovascular disease.
Another way in which endurance training is bad for health is of particular concern to us men. That’s because it has been shown to produce significant declines in testosterone levels. Hopefully I don’t have to tell you that as a man you want plenty of testosterone. Short intervals of exercise actually increase testosterone levels. However, after long enough, levels begin to decline sharply.
And yet another way in which endurance training can be harmful is that it can lower the metabolic rate. That means a reduction in energy levels and an increase in estrogen levels. Again, as a man, that’s bad news.
So what can you do differently? Do you have to give up running or swimming all together? Don’t worry. With some simple changes you can increase your fitness and reduce your risk of harm. Here’s what you need to do. If you currently do endurance exercise, cut the time back to 20 minutes. During that 20 minutes, increase the intensity, and take breaks every few minutes.
This form of exercise is what is called high intensity interval training (HIIT). It is shown to avoid all the pitfalls of endurance training. But you have do it right. Keep your training sessions to no longer than 20 minutes. Push yourself as hard as you can for a minute or two at a time. Then lower the intensity to a resting pace for a minute before resuming at high intensity. For example, if you run for exercise then you can do the following pattern. Sprint at full speed for 1 or 2 minutes. Then walk for another minute before sprinting again. At the end of 20 minutes you will be exhausted. And importantly, you’ll be improving your health.
HIIT can improve heart health long term. It can increase testosterone levels. And it can increase metabolic health so you have greater energy.
Cycling Is Bad For The Fellas
If your idea of exercise is pumping pedals, you might want to reconsider. Bicycling has been shown to be bad news for down there. Studies have found that men who cycle often have a significantly greater chance of developing prostate cancer. And as if that wasn’t bad enough, several studies have shown regular cyclers have a 30 percent increase in erectile dysfunction.
Researchers believe that the main reason that cycling is so problematic for men is the saddle on the cycle. Most bicycle saddles have long “noses” – the part of the seat the goes between the legs. That nose applies pressure to the groin, reducing blood flow and potentially causing other damage.
If you like to ride a bicycle recreationally merely as a means to get around, there are ways you can make it safer. For one thing, consider replacing the saddle with a no nose design. You can find them in most bike shops and online. For another thing, raise the handlebars and sit upright to avoid excess pressure from the seat.
Unfortunately, for high intensity cycling no nose seats are impractical for most men. If you can find another form of exercise that you can enjoy equally or more, I recommend that you do so. However, if you want to cycle for exercise, there are still some things you can do to make it safer. For one thing, using a HIIT style of exercise instead of and endurance model will reduce the amount of time you are on the saddle. Also, by doing hill sprints and standing to pedal you can greatly reduce the amount of time you are sitting. Short periods of time on the saddle aren’t problematic. So the suggestions I’ve just offered you can keep you safe.
There is no doubt about it. Regular exercise can improve health. Of course, to gain the benefits you also need to rest enough and eat well. But now we know that the type of exercise also matters. Follow the guidelines in this article and you can begin to enjoy the benefits right away. You’ll notice improved heart health, better energy, improved hormonal balance, and more.
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