Do I even have time for this?
Two numbers that will soon become relevant: 232,149 and 27%. Also, 7 other things worth knowing today.
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OK fine, once a week
A wise woman once wrote: “Work, Sleep, Family, Fitness, or Friends: Pick 3."
This was my colleague Jessica Stillman over on Inc.com, paraphrasing entrepreneur and former Facebook executive Randi Zuckerberg (sister of Mark). I hate to say it, but it seems especially true since the start of the pandemic.
That's why I was heartened to recall a study that suggests that people who go for a fairly short run just once a week can reduce their risk of death from any cause by as much as 27%.
I love that phrase: “from any cause.” Moreover, this was another one of my favorites: the Big Study.™
Researchers studied 232,149 people over a period of between 5.5 and as long as 35 years, and found that those who made a habit of running once per week had a significantly lower death rate than those who didn't:
"Increased rates of participation in running, regardless of its dose, would probably lead to substantial improvements in population health and longevity. Any amount of running, even just once a week, is better than not running."
(I quickly looked for any indication that this study was funded by, say, Nike, or Under Armour, or the US Organization for Getting People to Buy Running Gear. But it’s not, and also interestingly, going for more than one run per week "may not necessarily be associated with greater mortality benefits," the study authors wrote.)
"This is good news for the many adults who find it hard to find time for exercise," Elaine Murtagh, an exercise physiologist at Mary Immaculate College in Ireland (not involved in the study), told Science News. "Any amount of running is better than none."
Obviously, this is not true for everyone; not everyone is physically able to go for a run.
In fact, while writing this I had one of those “wait, if I don’t know who the complete jerk is, does that mean I’m the complete jerk?” moments. So I called Tom, who has become a big help to me here on Understandably, and who many of you might recall has written here about living with cerebral palsy, using a wheelchair, and learning to walk again:
“Ha ha ha. I’m not offended, but I may not be the best person to ask because I’m not easily offended. I have an exercise routine. Obviously, it’s focused on upper body.
But my physical therapist encourages me: 30 minutes, 3 times a week, improves my percentage chance of living a longer, more healthy life.”
Phew. Anyway, for someone like myself, when I'm at the nadir of my "volume of workouts" effort, what holds me back is the idea that, “if you can't commit to doing more than the minimum, what's the point?”
A short run once a week isn't going to do much to keep you in shape or help you lose weight. It's not going to improve your speed.
But that's okay. In this case, it’s not the goal.
Instead, the idea is to engage in a modicum of fitness effort, no matter how busy you are otherwise. That seems like a reasonable and worthy objective.
Work out a little bit. Live a little longer. And get a bit more time to pursue whatever it is in life that makes it seem worth living in the first place.
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7 other things worth knowing today
The Justice Department is establishing a specialized unit focused on domestic terrorism, the department’s top national security official told lawmakers Tuesday as he described an “elevated” threat from violent extremists in the United States. (AP)
Extraordinarily on-point response from Ina Garten to Reese Witherspoon about healthy living (and not), almost as if she’d already read today’s newsletter before I wrote it. (HuffPost)
The Canadian province of Quebec says it plans to impose a tax on people who don’t get vaccinated against Covid-19. (BBC)
Tesla’s “Full Self-Driving” beta version has three modes–and the “Aggressive” profile may perform rolling stops or other questionable maneuvers. (The Verge)
Speaking of self-driving, John Deere plans to launch autonomous tractors later this year. (Vox)
It’s absurdly cold for many of our readers today. Here’s a listicle on how to make getting up on a cold winter morning a little bit easier. (Stylist)
A Canadian politician is facing heat after he shared a photo of his wife, a registered nurse, shoveling snow off their driveway this weekend. “Even after a 12-hour night shift at the hospital last night, my wife still has the energy to shovel the driveway,” he tweeted. "God bless her and all our frontliners. Time to make her some breakfast." (Today)