Endurance Exercise Is Bad For You?


I’ve been saying for years that I think endurance exercise is bad for you. I think the risk of injury outweighs the benefits. Now it appears that research agrees with me but for a far more significant reason. A sore knee is one thing but increased risk of heart attack? Take a look at this quote from the this article on the Mercola website.

“Clearly, when it comes to exercise, more is not always better. As I’ve learned in more recent years, the opposite is oftentimes true. Granted, this warning does not apply to the vast majority of people reading this, as most people are not exercising nearly enough. But it’s still important to understand that not only is it possible to over-exercise, but focusing on the wrong type of exercise to the exclusion of other important areas can actually do you more harm than good. Even if you don’t end up dying from sudden cardiac death during a race, years of marathon running can take a toll on your ability to achieve optimal health.”

24 Responses to “Endurance Exercise Is Bad For You?”

  1. 5 minute warm up. 2 minutes interval. 2 minutes rest for the next 25 minutes.

  2. mboyle1959 Says:

    Always the same intervals or different lengths and rests?

  3. Aaron Stone Says:

    I’ve been doing interval training for several years, about 30 minutes a session. But, I do it nearly every day. Good or bad?

  4. mboyle1959 Says:

    I don’t think you are far from the truth. I wish more people would listen.

  5. I believe that endurance running is a psychological disorder (only partially kidding). The self-punishment that goes on is disturbing. I also believe that some bodies are more resilient than others, and can better cope. Overall, I agree with Mike. Endurance exercise does more to break down the body than to build it up. My research is based on a 30 year longitudinal study (started at age 16) of ME! I’ve been following Mike’s career since 1991. It took me about 10 years to realize that interval training is better for the body. The problem I see is that people think interval training is too hard and intense. They then sign up for a half-marathon, slog through it, and remain fat and confused.

  6. I think Matt said it pretty well there. On a separate note, I agree that the orthopedic implications of endurance exercise is creating a problem, and that possibly reducing this type of stressor is a solution. However I think it should be made clear that the amount of injuries is simply related to our current way of life and not because our bodies are unable for this type of activity (particularly running), a combination of sedentary living, static jobs, bad footwear and changes in postural mechanics over time are mostly to blame.

    If we look at our evolutionary history, this was the activity of necessity. Perhaps I am taking a defensive stance because I am an endurance athlete and your point has been taken on-board, but I think this issue is mostly caused by the CURRENT way of life, and not something that should be blown under the carpet. Instead we should educate, mobilise and change (footwear is one example) in order to “reintroduce” this activity into everyday living.

    Going back to the original debate, perhaps its better sometimes to outline both sides of the story, or at the very least use a meta-analysis or ground breaking research to support a point being made such as this.

  7. I see your point. I guess my point is that we have clients every year who train for the marathon. Some end up hurt for the entire next year, some are never the same. Not cardiac but orthopedic. My I’m grasping at any evidence to make this foolishness stop.

  8. I did focus to hard on the negatives in my previous post – I agree that this type of training is not a part of sound exercise prescription, that is, unless you are a marathon runner. I think that the article took the wrong angle against heavy endurance training. The orthopedic angle is so much stronger – though not as scary to the general public – that it is hardly worth mentioning some of the things mentioned in the article. I mean, when you look at the article it listed “a 2006 study” twice, insinuating that they are separate studies both supporting their conclusion when it was actually the same study being referenced twice. I guess I’m just not a fan of how they represented their evidence and let that affect my view of the big picture.

    I definitely agree that it is at times better to see the big picture than nitpick the fine details of studies, although I’m not convinced this is one of them. A study examining 57 year olds that have run 100+ marathons isn’t the best indicator for any population other than marathon runners, the only population that really has to run.

    Some studies that really stand out to me like this are the ones that look at the effect of squat depth on knee stress. Yes, with a sample size of 8 there was not a statistically significant difference between depths, but the case was that the deeper the squat the greater the stress – in each subject. If the same results were found with a larger sample size, the exact opposite conclusion would have been reached, and I think this is where we, as practitioners, have to think (as Coach Boyle has us doing) about when to reexamine what it is we are having our athletes do. The general idea, though, that the extreme in any direction can be a bad thing, is of course worth sharing.

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