Customer Reviews: The Exercise Myth
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4.1 out of 5 stars
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on January 24, 2009
The main point of the book, using many referenced studies, is that just because you are fit does not mean that you are healthy. When I read that I immediately thought of Jim Fixx, who died at age 52 of a massive heart attack in 1984 (according to Wikipedia). That is the same year that this book was published. The author pointed out that Jim Fixx was a proponent of running. He quotes him as saying that runners typically believe that more running is the answer to medical problems rather than going to the doctor (page 102). Evidently Mr. Fixx died after the manuscript went to press. That was ironic.

The author shows, for example, that marathon runners do not have an immunity to atherosclerosis (see page 112). He sites Dr. Virmani, who studied marathoner autopsies, and says that he "found that severe coronary atherosclerosis is the most common cause of death in marathon runners".

The author does recommend, for those who want to achieve a degree of fitness, a daily regime of a one-mile walk at 3 MPH twice a day. Although he says it is only needed for those who want to do some exercising, or for those who are completely sedentary (there is a small risk of heart disease among those whose exercise consists only of going from one room to another).
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on May 15, 2013
This is an excellent work that is timely even these days (2013), since the misconceptions about running's health benefits persist nearly 30 years after the book was written. The author, a cardiologist, does a pretty good job dispelling the myth that you can gain health by strenuous aerobic exercise. The prevailing thought (by the general public, particularly the running community) during the 70's, 80's, and 90's, was that such exercise was a prophylactic against cardiac diseases, and would even enable you to live much longer. It is now apparent (as it was to the author in 1984) that such is not the case; cardiac and general health is many times very adversely affected by aerobic training, especially as done by the highly-competitive distance runner, piling on the miles, fighting through the pain, overtraining, joint ailments, chronic fatigue; the signals from the overused body warring with the 'runner's high' effect (or other gratifications) achieved by many runners.

The book's main thesis is the difference between health and fitness: the difference between healthy blood lipids, nonplaqued artery walls, and low stress-marker levels (e.g., hsCRP), versus fitness measures such as VOmax and good race times. The author demonstrates that these seem to be rather independent quantities. You frequently have someone who is very healthy, with virtually no chance of getting cardiovascular disease (for whatever reason, lifestyle or genetics), who is not capable of running a marathon (they haven't trained for), and then you can have a world-class marathoner whose arteries are very clogged with plaque, and whose joints are worn out. This is opposite to the street wisdom that has been promulgated, that a lot of running conferred clean arteries, a healthy heart, and near-immortality, if you just put in the miles.

The author is a very good writer, and makes his points repeatedly from a number of different angles, and with clarity and plenty of citations. This is not a spoilsport-rant by a disgruntled ex-runner who has gotten religion, like the title may lead one to expect, but more of a popular-level medical essay that tries and succeeds to clarify the author's thesis: cardiac health is best obtained by eating healthily, not smoking, etc., and if you want to, run in moderate amounts so that the negatives are minimized.

Highly recommended. I got my copy from my local public library, since the current pricing is prohibitive, unless you are a collector.
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on September 27, 2007
While working on The Potbelly Syndrome, I found lots of evidence that exercise could not prevent or cure obesity, diabetes, or heart disease. When I read Dr. Solomon's excellent book The Exercise Myth, I learned that exercise was not only useless, it could be dangerous. Dr. Solomon points out that fitness and health are not identical. People in good health can improve their fitness by exercising, but there is little chance that people in poor health will improve their health by exercising. Russ Farris, co-author of The Potbelly Syndrome The Potbelly Syndrome: How Common Germs Cause Obesity, Diabetes, And Heart Disease
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on January 17, 2014
Dr Henry Solomon humbled me. At two of the best schools, I never heard his ideas. I ran in marathons and worked out 5 hours a week but never again.

When I saw the heart is a different muscle and can not be overworked I followed his advice and lost 12 pounds. My percent body fat dropped from 16% to 12% (Omron Body fat analyzer) by stopping all work outs and walking instead. I jump rope in one minute intervals and do 1,ooo jumps a week. And do 1,000 jumps on a rebounder. It is important to push with the toes and I walk quickly to do 2 miles in less than 30 minutes.

I've returned to what I did for 30 years by eliminating all processed food and neck stretching to maintain good blood supply to the brain. I'm able to read one book a week while I walk. Much less time and I feel better.
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on June 13, 2014
This book gives the other side of the exercise-is-good-for-you-story in realistic terms.The problems asscoiated with excess exercise, and obvious exposure to jogging interactions. Not to say that exercise is bad, it just won't support the claims.
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on August 14, 2013
I didn't realize that this was written so long ago. The bottom line is that exercise is good for you but there is no need for extremes.
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on April 22, 2005
This book starts from senseless and worthless arguments, as are the suggestions that the frequently used and widely held as very usefull tes, the stress or exercice test, with several outsatanding papers acknowledging the benefits of such test, is used merely for economic benefit of doctors.
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