Yes, it’s true—strenuous exercise is superior to moderate or light exercise in many ways and for many reasons.
Everybody should exercise strenuously, not just because this is how ancient hunter-gatherers survived, but because science proves the superiority of intense workouts over lower-key workouts.
Here are the top five reasons why you should include strenuous exercise in your fitness regimen.
1. Prevent heart attacks and death-by-shock. A strenuous workout traumatizes the body. Every time one exercises, the body is forced to repair the damage. Over time, the body gets very efficient at this, happily repairing the damage (one result of this repair is accelerated resting metabolic rate).
Out of shape people suffer heart attacks while shoveling snow because their hearts can’t make sense of the rapid rise and fall of heart rate that occurs. The heart freaks out and goes into arrest.
When a highly trained body shovels snow, the heart thinks it’s just another gym workout, and makes nothing of it. “Oh, I’m at the gym again,” the heart thinks, and thus, is not startled into a heart attack.
2. Counteract the effect of stress on the body. One way that chronic stress damages the body is to keep the blood in a persistently thickened state, increasing the risk of blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes. Blood thickens in response to stress, something that worked great for cavemen because this made bleeding to death during a fight with an animal less likely.
Today, we don’t fight animals for survival; we fight traffic, deadlines and collection agencies. There is no physicality to oppose stress hormones—unless we exercise strenuously. Strenuous workouts will keep blood thinner, dramatically lowering the risk of blood clots that cause heart attacks and strokes.
3. Raise heart rate recovery. How quickly (or slowly) one’s heart recovers from physical exertion is the greatest predictor of all-cause mortality. The best way to improve heart rate recovery is with strenuous exercise, particularly in the form of high intensity interval training.
4. Put scooter stores out of business. Make strenuous exercise part of your life, and chances are pretty good you won’t ever be on the phone with Medicare trying to get a scooter, save for if you fall out of a tree. Strenuous workouts keep the spinal column, hip and knee joints functioning smoothly, plus significantly reduce bone and muscle loss with age.
5. Speed up metabolism. One of life’s greatest pleasures is eating. Strenuous workouts keep resting metabolism piping fast, so that you can eat generously (not pig out or gorge) and not develop unhealthy excess fat.
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