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Why To Exercise A Bit Harder Today, With Help From MC Hammer

“Either work hard or you might as well quit,” MC Hammer sings in “U can’t touch this.” (It comes right before “That’s word because you know U can’t touch this (oh-oh oh oh-oh-oh) Break it down.”)

Yes, he’s a brilliant rapper, but he was wrong when it comes to exercise. The research shows that for your health, it’s far better to do something light and easy — anything — than to be sedentary. Still, I’ve been struck by a phenomenon I’ve now observed twice in hotel gyms: A guest comes in, gets on the treadmill or the bike, and hangs out there for a half hour or more without ever going fast enough or hard enough to break a sweat or breathe heavily.

The findings indicate that it is the intensity, rather than the duration, of exercise that counts.

I have to confess, I’m somehow disturbed by this. Have their doctors warned them not to exert themselves? Or do they just not know how much more they could be getting out of their exercise time? I’ll never be intrusive enough to ask, but next time I see one of those guests, I’ll be thinking of a study just out in the medical journal BMJ Open that smacks of MC Hammer’s maximalism. From the press release:

Fast walking and jogging halve development of heart disease and stroke risk factors

But an hour’s walk every day makes no difference: intensity rather than duration is what counts

Daily activities, such as fast walking and jogging, can curb the development of risk factors for heart disease and stroke by as much as 50 per cent, whereas an hour’s daily walk makes little difference, indicates research published in the online journal BMJ Open.

The findings indicate that it is the intensity, rather than the duration, of exercise that counts in combating the impact of metabolic syndrome – a combination of factors, including midriff bulge, high blood pressure, insulin resistance, higher than normal levels of blood glucose and abnormal blood fat levels – say the authors.

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