Taking a guilt-free break

Comments (11)
By Peter Hadzipetros

Heat got you down? Maybe you've abandoned your exercise program as temperatures across the country tickled record highs?

If you have, and you're feeling a little guilty, don't worry. Your body may still be benefiting from what you were doing — even if you were barely breaking a sweat while you were moving.

A study published in the latest issue of The Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that a "modest amount of moderately intense exercise is the best way to lower the level of a key blood marker linked to higher risk of heart disease and diabetes."

That marker is triglycerides, the particles that carry fat around the body. Reducing your triglyceride level cuts your risk of heart disease and diabetes.

The researchers studied 240 middle-aged, sedentary people who were put into one of four groups:

  • Lots of intense exercise.
  • Less exercise but at a high intensity.
  • Less exercise at a moderate intensity.
  • No exercise at all.

The researchers found that triglyceride levels stayed low even two weeks after people in the study group were told to stop exercising.

But what really surprised them was what happened to the study participants who were put on an intense exercise program. Their triglyceride levels did not stay as low two weeks after they stopped exercising as the levels reached for people doing moderate exercise — like 30 minutes of walking every day.

What didn't surprise them was what happened to the group that did no exercise: over six months, they put on about one kilogram and added a centimetre or so to their waistlines. Doesn't sound like much — but keep that up for 10 years and you may be knocking on obesity's door.

The bottom line is that you may not need as much exercise as you thought in order to make big changes in your life. You don't have to slog through a 10 kilometre run when the humidex is touching 40 degrees and that new-fangled air quality health index is moving closer to 10.

The American Heart Association and the American College of Sports Medicine recently revised their exercise guidelines:

Do moderately intense cardio 30 minutes a day, five days a week.
Do vigorously intense cardio 20 minutes a day, 3 days a week.
Do eight to 10 strength-training exercises, eight to 12 repetitions of each exercise twice a week.

The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends 60 minutes every day — but not necessarily all at once. By breaking it up into easily manageable chunks, getting enough shouldn't be much of a challenge.

Then maybe you wouldn't need to take to take a break from exercising and worry that you might be slipping back into that sedentary lifestyle.

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Comments (11)



Boy, nothing brings out the fetishists like exercise.

There is nothing dumber than breathing bad air.

No, wait, there's rigid schedules which have nothing to do with the physical/real world.

Thanks for the article.

Posted September 6, 2009 09:43 AM



I am a Group Ex Instructor and Personal Trainer for a prestigious club in my area. In the past two months I have discovered what over-training and over-excessive intensive excercise means. I had been juggling my full time job along with teaching classes, clients and my personal life for over 2 years without giving my mind & body a break. Working out is my stress-relief and also helps me cope with life; however, we need to remember that our bodies need to rest & repair and taking the odd break is healthy and we need to smell the roses while we workout too! That means a less intense workout is just as good for us! Take it from me, it's a balancing act between burn-out and working out to stay healthy.

Posted September 5, 2007 10:00 AM



I dont believe in becomming a hermit because of the weather. If you dont train your body in stress you will never be able to cope with that stress. I plan my weekly runs early in the week, and it is only my schedule that determines availability, not weather. It doesn't matter if that time of that day is hot, humid, or raining cats and dogs - I do it anyways. In the winter that might mean running in minus 20-30, but I get my mileage in no matter what. I am conscious of running style, and I make sure to avoid injury or dehydration depending on the conditions, and as far as I'm concerned that is more important than missing a day because its too hot or too cold. I'm turning 50 in 2008, and manage 30-50 km a week. On my non-running days, I might play a round of golf, go for a bike ride with my significant other, or go for a swim. The last thing you will find me doing is to get cooped up in a gym, or worse; in my living room. Catch me if you can.

Posted August 23, 2007 08:09 AM



I am 61 and retired. I have been a runner for the past 31 years and love doing it. I log about 40K a week. I also cycle and weight train. I worked a high stress management position for many years, but never have had problems with weight or BP. I have always had plenty of energy to work or play.
Now that I have more personal time, it is easier to keep my commitments to fitness. Like Lee, I hope to keep this up for a very long time!

Posted August 20, 2007 06:31 PM


I am actually really happy to hear this, i play soccer and run track but outside of practise, if its too hot, I won't go out for a run. I don't feel its benificial if i burn out right away. I may take the dog for a short walk but the hot weather doesn't help the dog any either!

Posted August 20, 2007 09:38 AM

Lee McNaughton

I have exercised all my life (I'm 60). Included in this regime is a moderate amount of weight training. As I grow older, I notice that many older people have little strength in some important areas like arms -they can't pull themselves up from a chair. Weights are so easy and you can notice the benefits quickly. I find as I get older machines are the best - dial in the weight and do the exercise. I try to do 30 minutes a day - 3 times a week. I do 10 - 12 exercises, with reps like 15 - then 12 - then 10. I try to move quickly from exercise to exercise to also get a little cardio in as well. For me, this works. I intend to follow my routine until .... well you know... the pine box arrives!!

Posted August 8, 2007 02:00 PM



To the person in Vancouver:

It is my opinion, as a health and fitness professional that, yes, you should be doing some kind of strength training. The prime marker of aging is loss of skeletal muscle tissue. (~half a lb/ year) If there was only one reason to start strength training, this would be it. Maintaining existing muscle tissue, and possibly adding a bit more, will allow you to feel as great as you do now for as long as possible by retaining your functional capacity.

It is definitely worth looking into one on one instruction to learn how to do it safely and effectively. I would suggest being picky with who you choose. Look for an instructor with some kind of education beyond a personal training certification. (Kinesiology for example)

Posted August 8, 2007 12:11 PM


I exercise just 4 times a week on my treadmill. I have done this EVERY week for the past 5 years. I try to work out Sun - Wed so that I finish my 4 treadmill workouts early in the week. If I miss one of those days, then I know I have the rest of the week to get my 4 workouts done. I am overweight because of bad eating habits, but my blood pressure is 110/75 and my pulse rate is good.

Posted August 8, 2007 10:03 AM

Need you help in Van


For the last 10 years or so, I have been walking every morning for 1hour and 15 minutes, 6 days a week before I go to work. Prior to that I was a daily swimmer. I am in a job in which I am constantly up and down from my desk all day sitting the longest stretch of no more than 10 minutes straight on any given day. I am in my 50's and feel great.
I have never done any strength training and anaerobic exercises.
Does anyone have any thoughts if I really should be doing some and any suggestions as to where I should start?

Posted August 5, 2007 11:07 PM


I consider myself a poster child for the moderate exercise movement.

I am now 46 and have been a regular exerciser for about 25 years.

I used to run. Now I don't like it because it's too much like work.

Most of the time I walk or cycle, about 5 days a week. I don't walk or bike particularly quickly, but I do it consistently, winter and summer.

I have no weight problems, normal bp and a pulse rate of an athlete. I have always attributed my good health to consistency rather than intensity. Oh, and because I don't overdo exercise, I love it!

Posted August 5, 2007 08:37 AM

Deb Johnson

Well, this is welcome news! Great for those like myself who hate the heat. I'd much prefer to break it up, with walks with the dog. Early morning, later afternoon, evening walks, killing two birds with one stone. Suits me just fine. :)

Posted August 4, 2007 09:31 AM

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About the Author

Peter HadzipetrosPeter Hadzipetros is a producer for the Consumer and Health sites of CBC News Online. Until he got off the couch and got into long distance running a few years ago, he was a net importer of calories.

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Boy, nothing brings out the fetishists like exercise....
Taking a guilt-free break
I am a Group Ex Instructor and Personal Trainer for a pre...
Taking a guilt-free break
I dont believe in becomming a hermit because of the weath...
Taking a guilt-free break
I am 61 and retired. I have been a runner for the past 31...
Taking a guilt-free break
I am actually really happy to hear this, i play soccer an...
Taking a guilt-free break


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