The carelessness and irresponsibility grates. Here we go. As with all articles written to shock, awe, and destroy you(r thinking), this one has so much information that sounds SO VERY CONVINCING. Jim Karas is an educated, experienced professional, so surely he has only your best interests at heart, right? He couldn’t possibly want anything other than to help you improve your health, right?
Incorrect. Jim Karas wants to sell you a line. Like most (maybe not all?) fitness industry beacons, he wants to sell his product and/or philosophy. And that is okay. That is capitalism. I get it. But it is no more than an informercial.
Doing cardiovascular exercise will not make you unfit. It will not constantly reduce your lean muscle mass. It will not destroy your joints. Cardiovascular exercise has clear and genuine benefits and it is VASTLY BETTER TO DO SOME CARDIOVASCULAR EXERCISE than it is to do NONE. Karas is right to point out that often a regime of steady-state cardio will produce an increase in appetite which many new, and even many experienced exercisers, will not deal with rationally and probably consume too much. Karas is right to point out that a constant routine won’t change body composition much.
It’s what he leaves out that is telling and a little infuriating.
Any exercise routine that does not contain regular progressions will plateau in its effects. Whether a routine is resistance-based, body-weight, cardio of any level of impact, stability training…If a body is unchallenged, it will adapt to take the path of least resistance, learn to conserve energy and minimize effort. Karas is therefore at least very right to mention intervals, which by the way, can be incredibly effective across every single type of exercise. If you can vary the intensity, you can create a great workout.
Karas mentions air quality as if you only breathe outside while doing cardiovascular exercise. If you are exercising outside, you are breathing the outside air. I am fairly certain he is talking about runners (and maybe cyclists and rollerbladers) when he mentions Central Park and the shores of Lake Michigan, and I am also fairly certain that most folks out for all that steady-state cardio aren’t doing it because they think it will lead to magical weight loss. All of those outdoor pursuits have myriad benefits- they elevate your mood, regulate your sleep, often provide you with social interaction, and generally relieve stress.
As per the “wrinkled grey pallor” of “runners’ faces”- that sounds like a red herring. Have you seen the wrinkled grey pallor of the people you know who never do anything? If anything he may be remarking upon the effects of cumulative UV exposure and having very low body fat percentage, as elite and competitive runners tend to have.
Moving away from the negative, how about we accentuate the positive, as that is a more satisfying approach: WEIGHT TRAINING IS AMAZING FOR YOU. Even better, it can be excellent cardiovascular exercise. Rather than excoriating “classic cardio” (maybe is Karas talking about Prancercise?) let’s rejoice in how much more interesting and possibly more accessible all types of resistance training are. All you need is your body, for the most part. It’s true that cardiovascular exercise in its classic form is kind of one-note- you can get much more from a resistance workout, but it is not going to destroy you.
1) Better to break a sweat and get your heart rate up than not to.
2) Better to break a sweat, get your heart rate up, let it come down, take it up again, and rinse and repeat, than to stay at a controlled easy intensity, with only a few exceptions.
3) Even better to get your heart rate up with resistance training- then your weight training IS cardiovascular.
4) Best of all to do so in intervals.
5) Steady state cardio has its place and isn’t evil. It can be a way to measure progress.