The Strategic Retreat

Exercise, The Slow Killer


For the past month or so I’ve been going to the gym. I lift on Monday and Friday, with 30 minutes on the elliptical Tuesday-Thursday. On the way home from the gym yesterday I got to thinking; I bet this is a waste of time. I’m now going to do the math to either confirm of disprove my hypotheses of “working out is for suckers.”

To begin my experiment I googled “exercise live longer“. The first article spoke of generalities so I moved on to article number two. Luckily, this article came up with some hard numbers which, like all “news”papers, was based on a poorly cited study.

Article Claims: Walking 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, allows the average person to live 1.3-1.5 years longer. Running 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, allows the average person to live 3.5-3.7 years longer.

This all sounds good on the surface but I can smell a scam from a mile away, and this one reeks. Lets crunch the numbers.

Average U.S. Male Life expectancy in 2003 is 74.8 years. I am 28.2 years old. That means I will need to exercise for 46.6 years more years.

46.6 years x 52 weeks in a year x 5 times a week x 30 minutes a session = 363,480 minutes. 363,480 minutes/60 =6058 hours/24 =252.417 days/365 =.692 years

Seems pretty simple, eh? Put in .692 years and get back between 1.3-3.7 years, depending on the intensity of your work out. Thats .61-3.01 net years you get back. Not a bad gain, and you get to wear cool sweat bands. At least, that’s what Whitey wants you to think. In this case I’m not exactly sure who Whitey is but I bet he’s in cahoots with Gatorade and Nike.

Unfortunately, the above math does not take into account sleep. I am not awake for 24 hours a day. I personally sleep about 10 hours a night but I’ll assume the average person gets 8 hours a day.

363,480/60 =6,058 hours/16 =378.625 days/365 =1.037 years

So putting in 1.037 years results in a net gain of between .26 years-2.66 years. Meaning that if you’re walking and not running you will gain around 3 months of life for working out your entire life. Still seems reasonably, eh? As my second favorite Ron would say, “But wait, there’s more”. I work out at a gym, 30 minutes of workout time costs me 1 hour of real time between driving my ass to the gym and showering and such. So let’s again correct the math above.

46.6 years x 52 weeks in a year x 5 times a week x 60 minutes a session = 726,960 minutes. 726,960/60 =12,116 hours/16 =757.25 days/365 =2.075 years

We can now see that exercising 30 minutes a day 5 days a week will result in a net gain of life between negative .775 years and positive 1.625 years. Meaning that if you walk 30 minutes a day but also spend 30 minutes a day preparing for and recovering from the activity you are slowly killing yourself.

Sure, some people may bring up the quality of life debate, claim they like exercising, that walking is a social activity and all that. That’s all well and good. I’m not saying don’t walk, I’m just saying it’s slowly killing you. Plus, I truly believe that an hour of my time now is worth more than an hour of my time in my 70’s.

Its true that a year in your 70’s is most likely retired time, and you could be fit enough to enjoy it. I’ll counter that with my gym fees: 45$ a month + 1$ a day to park. $540 + $260 a year = $800 x 46.6 = $37,280. If you don’t think I could get 1.625 work free years out of 37,280 after-tax dollars you’d be wrong.

Light up, cheers and take a stroll. Whatever gets you off, just know what you’re getting yourself into. As for me, I’m taking a sucitin.

About Jeff

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