Physical: Long Distance Running is Unhealthy

Too many fitness tips are about what you should be doing.

However, my most recent deep-dives into clinical research make it more and more clear we should be doing a lot less.

One of the things you can drop? Long-distance running. 

Now, before you go crazy on me, let me state one of my fitness axioms: 

Something is better than nothing, but once you are doing something, consider choosing the most efficient activity. 

Since these tips are meant to be short, I won’t break down every single fitness activity, but I’ll share these findings with you about long-distance running specifically. According to over 10 clinical studies, long-distance runners are more likely to develop: 

  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Atrial fibrillation 
  • Cancer
  • Liver and gallbladder 
  • Muscle damage
  • Kidney dysfunction 
  • Acute microthrombosis in the vascular system
  • Brain damage
  • Spinal degeneration
  • Germ-cell cancers

Each one of these ailments is listed because it is the clinical outcome of a scientific study, and long-distance runners were compared to LESS ACTIVE counterparts. 

In a nutshell, long-distance running creates a metabolic adaptation that in turn creates an acute imbalance between anabolic and catabolic states. Stripped of fancy terminology, it means that long-distance runners are chronically underfed and overexerted for a long period of time.

This one passes the eye test. You ever see a marathon runner who looked particularly healthy? Give me a sprinter's body any day, as opposed to Jim Fixx, the famous jogging dude who dropped dead of a heart condition at an early age . . . 

If you’re interested in a list of the studies and citations, just hit me back and I’ll be happy to discuss this in more detail. 

But for now? You have scientific permission to stop jogging--if you want to replace it with the most efficient activity, pick up a copy of "Body by Science" and see if it doesn't change our outlook on fitness. 

Mental: Timing Tip for Caffeine

Caffeine is the most popular drug in the world, and most people drag themselves out of bed without the ability to function until they get that first cup of coffee, Monster energy drink, or 5-hour energy shot. 

However, you’re wasting the caffeine if you do it within the first hour of waking. 

When you wake up, your body starts creating cortisol, the stress hormone. While this hormone is normally bad, in this case, it kickstarts your body.

Caffeine interferes with cortisol, so when you take caffeine within the first hour of waking up, you barely get a noticeable boost in wakefulness.

Yet, you still increase your caffeine tolerance, further blunting its effectiveness in your daily routine. 

Don’t waste your caffeine high! Optimize your caffeine intake by waiting 60 to 90 minutes after you wake up to take it. Your cortisol production has peaked and you are prepped to reap the full cognitive benefits of caffeine. 

Enjoy your improved mental boost! 

Emotional: Reduce Wants, Increase Happiness

I've been reading a lot of philosophy lately, and the quotes and ideas of Epictetus and Seneca stand out. One idea they constantly teach is to appreciate what you have to increase your happiness. 

"Conduct yourself as if at a banquet. As something being passed around comes to you, reach out your hand and take a moderate helping. Does it pass you by? Don't stop it. It hasn't yet come? Don't burn in desire for it, but wait until it arrives in front of you. Act this way with children, a spouse, toward position, toward wealth--one day it will make you worthy of a banquet with the gods."--Epictetus, Enchiridion, 15 

I talked about the power of gratitude in my last email, and insatiable desire obliterates it. Exchange desire for gratitude whenever possible.

From Diogenes: "It is the privilege of the gods to want nothing, and of godlike people to want little."

But how do you tame your desire? 

Here is a question to try when framing your goals, wants, and desires: Am I in control of them, or are they in control of me? 

It may just change your outlook on life. 

About the Author

Fred Venturini is an author and freelance business consultant.

He grew up in Patoka, Illinois. In 2014, his story "Gasoline" was featured in Chuck Palahniuk's Burnt Tongues anthology. His short fiction has been published in the Booked Anthology, Noir at the Bar 2, and Surreal South. The Heart Does Not Grow Back, published by Picador in 2014, is his first novel. He lives in Southern Illinois with his wife and daughter.

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