In all dietary and fitness pursuits, moderation is key. Socrates put the concept of practicing moderation into our consciousness 2,500 years ago when he proclaimed, “Everything in moderation, nothing in excess.”
One hundred years ago, Oscar Wilde blew the lid off the whole thing when he said, “Everything in moderation, including moderation.”
But Socrates and Wilde didn’t live in a polarizing world of both obesity and extreme exercise. We live in a dangerously unhealthy society, and with the recent release of studies condemning grueling exercise, it’s important to strike a healthy balance.
Endurance athletes—the people who compete in triathlons, Ironman events, and marathons—are an intense bunch. They continually push their bodies to the brink of exhaustion, and then keep running. The small community of endurance athletes around the world are an understandably prideful group, and they feed off the narcotic high of extreme athletic accomplishment. So anyone who introduces a study claiming to have found damning evidence against radical fitness better have a hell of a case.
— Lacy Jaye Hansen (@lacyjhansen) May 28, 2013
— Kenton Hansen (@kentonh) May 28, 2013
Various new research shows that there is such a thing as “over exercise,” and it can lead to many external and internal damages. In regards to heart health and fitness, cardiac electrophysiologist John Mandrola told the Wall Street Journal, “Heart disease comes from inflammation and if you’re constantly, chronically inflaming yourself, never letting your body heal, why wouldn’t there be a relationship between over exercise and heart disease?” Contradictions to this school of thought abound, as running and exercise science experts continue to champion the health benefits of incessant exercise.
Last summer, Geralyn Coopersmith—national director of the Equinox Fitness Training Institute—claimed that “exercise addiction” is becoming an epidemic, and those afflicted are forced to seek professional help from psychologists and counselors. The body is more prone to injury after periods of excessive exercise and can negatively impact a person’s mood.
In 2009, a Time magazine cover story implied that humans might not even need exercise to lose weight, claiming that some moderate movement throughout the day is the best way to keep weight off. Our Neolithic ancestors were a fit looking bunch, mainly due to the fact that their livelihood required constant motion to survive, a practice we modern humans should imitate.
Not all endurance athletes are maladjusted junkies, and our obese society doesn’t need to hear that exercise is bad. Exercise still has a plethora of benefits—from improving mood to aiding in sleep—and they should not be discounted. The underlying message of it all harkens back to the moderation proverb—too much of anything is bad.
Don’t drive your mind and body insane with obsessive exercise, but stay active and maintain a balanced lifestyle on all fronts. There are so many ways to burn calories while giving your body the fitness tune up it desperately needs. So get active in a healthy way, and make sure to love the way you move.