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Is Aerobic Exercise Bad for You?

Q: I know you’re not a fan of aerobics for weight loss, but shouldn’t some people do aerobic training for general health.

A: Absolutely not! For one thing, long-term aerobic exercise compromises the immune system. There is ample evidence that aerobic training leads to immune suppression, putting aerobic endurance athletes at greater risk for infection, particularly upper-respiratory illness. The worst kind of aerobic exercise for causing  immune dysfunction is exercise that is continuous and long (about 90 minutes a session) and of moderate-to-high intensity (60 to 80 percent of maximal oxygen uptake).

How can aerobic exercise be so bad when doctors and health professionals are encouraging everyone to do it? In fact, aerobic exercise does have some legitimate benefits, especially for specific populations, such as people with high blood pressure, the obese, the sedentary or those with significant belly fat. The point is that substantial negatives come with aerobic training as well, which many people fail to realize, and you can avoid them by doing strength, or anaerobic-system, training.

Editor’s note: Charles Poliquin is recognized as one of the world’s most successful strength coaches, having coached Olympic med-alists in 12 different sports, including the U.S. women’s track-and-field team for the 2000 Olympics. He’s spent years researching European journals (he’s fluent in English, French and German) and speaking with other coaches and scientists in his quest to optimize training methods. For more on his books, seminars and methods, visit  IM


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