A recently released study by The Public Library of Science debunks the notion that all exercise is good for all people.
According to The New York Times, in analyzing data from six separate exercise studies involving nearly 1,700 subjects, PLoS researchers found that “about 10 percent [of subjects] actually got worse on at least one of the measures related to heart disease: blood pressure and levels of insulin, HDL cholesterol or triglycerides. About seven percent got worse on at least two measures.”
Why? That part’s not quite clear.
“The problem with studies of exercise and health, researchers point out, is that while they often measure things like blood pressure or insulin levels, they do not follow people long enough to see if improvements translate into fewer heart attacks or longer lives,” writes reporter Gina Kolata. “Instead, researchers infer that such changes lead to better outcomes—something that may or may not be true.”
While the scientific community seems to be in general agreement regarding the validity of the study, some doctors have expressed fear that people looking for excuses to skip exercise just got more ammunition. To be clear: Most doctors still recommend regular exercise.
The point of the study is subtle, but important: While exercise may not actually be bad for people, per se, the research points out that it might not be as good for everyone as once thought, and that putting unfit people on an exercise program does not necessarily assure a better outcome.