I recently stumbled across a blog post from April 2015 in which NY Times writer Gretchen Reynolds was discussing the “right dose” of exercise to increase longevity. Her article was based on two new “impressively large-scale” studies that she thought would provide “clarity” on the topic.
It’s a principal of toxicology that “the dose makes the poison.” In other words, drugs that are beneficial in small does may be toxic if you take more than the prescribed amount. For many people, exercise might as well be a toxic chemical: they want to know what is the minimum dose necessary to stay healthy. Even better if they could take a pill and not have to break a sweat.
My attitude is different. It seems sad to me that a natural activity like exercise would be “dosed” like a pharmaceutical. And in any case, I’m skeptical about scientists who claim they can measure such things.
My faith in humanity was restored, however, when I read the post’s top-ranked comments: readers had raised interesting questions about the studies’ logic, disputed the purpose of the article, and taken Reynolds to task for naivete.
In fact, after reflecting on the comments, I’ve concluded that the “right dose” of exercise is the maximum amount possible…