Excellent essay at Runner’s World by exercise scientist Alex Hutchinson. Cardio-respiratory fitness (CRF) continues to prove itself the most important driver of longevity. While this essay is in a publication aimed at runner’s, it matters not how you improve your CRF. You can run, bike, swim, power walk, hike (especially with a heavy backpack), do weighted carries, swing kettlebells (do 12 minutes of snatches or double cleans and tell me your heart rate didn’t rise), or work with a steel mace. The tool matters far less than the perseverance.
Focus on the journey, not the destination—that’s pretty good advice for a lot of things in life, including health and fitness. After all, you’re unlikely to stick with an exercise routine if it’s not, at least on some level, enjoyable.
What this tells us is that exercise is good for you because it increases your cardiovascular fitness. High fitness, meanwhile, is good for you no matter how you acquire it—which is a lucky break for those who happen to have high levels of baseline fitness thanks to their genetics.
It’s important to note that improved fitness isn’t the only way that exercise improves health. Exercise also has effects on body mass index, blood pressure, insulin sensitivity, and cholesterol levels, all of which can increase longevity, and all of which were held constant in this study’s statistical analysis. Regardless of what’s happening to your fitness, you’re likely getting health benefits from your workout routine.