This morning, one of my clients presented to me a newspaper article on weight training. The headline was "Weight Training May Stiffen Arteries." To this, I was unable to back up training with weights as I do not know if this refers to very heavy power lifting or just simply lifting weights. The article basically said that after four months of intensive weight training, researchers found the elasticity of arteries decreased by about one fifth in healthy men. Do you have any information on this? I praise the practice of lifting weights and feel that this study may be flawed. In any case, I wish to give my client some more information on this subject.
For many reasons, one CANNOT assume that an article is true just because it's published in a newspaper (or any other medium for that matter). The information provided regarding the study in question is very limited and vague. However, consider the following points:
- Funding for Studies:
- When trying to determine whether information from a study, an individual or an organization, etc., is valid or not, one must know how the study was funded and who funded it. Using this question as an example, if one dug deep enough into this study and eventually learned that it was sponsored by a large company that produces cardio equipment, the ulterior motives and vested interests would be pretty obvious here. This company would definitely have something to gain if the results came back as they did - making weight lifting appear potentially harmful to one's health.
- Please understand that research performed by "corporate scientists" is not really research at all because these scientists begin with predetermined conclusions, which they then are ordered to prove - no matter how much they must manipulate the variables, conditions or verbiage! This is because there is usually a large financial upside to the so-called "proof."
- Take the food industry, for example. There are approximately 1,500 food manufacturing scientists currently in the US. Only 75 of them are independently funded researchers. This means that 1,425 of these scientists and their research is bought and paid for.
- Independent researchers are the ticket. This is because they are truly scientists in seek of the real truth, who utilize the "scientific model" which goes:
- Form hypothesis
- Make predictions for that hypothesis
- Test the predictions
- Reject or revise the hypothesis based on the research findings
- PR, Propaganda and Media:
- Paralleled with the points above, PR generated propaganda also serves to make many corporations lots of money. Professional PR firms have been around since the early part of last century. In fact, the first professional "father of spin," a man named Edward Bernays, was nephew to Sigmund Freud! This show you what level of intelligence we're up against! Professional PR firms mask agendas and create illusions that deceive and misrepresent for marketing purposes. A great book on this topic is "Trust Us, We're Experts" by Rampton and Stauber.
- Dr. T. O'Shea has a great article on www.Mercola.com entitled "The Doors of Perception: Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything." Dr. Mercola himself found this article so relevant that it remains a permanent feature on his home page! (Click on "How Corporations, Government and Their Media Deceive and Hurt You.") In this article, Dr. O'Shea explains the six characteristics of propaganda that corporations as well as the media use frequently to drum up controversy, fear, civil unrest, hence - money. The second of these characteristics is "Speak in glittering generalities." This applies very well to our issue at hand. For example, in regards to your question above, define "stiffened." Define "healthy." (Explained further below.)
- Along these same lines, according to the independent research of Rampton and Stauber, 40% of material in a typical newspaper is PR generated spin/hype! For example, the Wall Street Journal contains over 50% PR generated material/content in any given issue! This statistic alone should be enough to get your clients questioning more of what they have been reading.
- The Study Subjects:
- What conditions was the study performed under? Were these conditions consistent with all of the subjects?
- Was there a control group?
- Who were those studied (meaning, were age, genetics, heredity and biochemical individuality taken into account)? If not, the results are virtually irrelevant as they are based on a false premise: that we are all the same.
- Define "healthy" men. I guarantee my definition differs from those who conducted this study! There is a old saying, "Perceivably fit but unhealthy." Unfortunately, with the processed food and "performance supplement" garbage market booming, it has become very convenient to get a great physique at the expense of great health.
- Example: I know a women with a thyroid disorder, diabetes and pernicious anemia as well as other ailments. The doctor says she's "healthy" because she had a good blood test. Unfortunately, this M.D. is still unaware that the body will sacrifice much to keep the blood at homeostasis. If indeed the blood is abnormal in one way or another (and by the way, biochemical individuality makes this very tricky to discern), the impending problem has likely been developing for quite a while and is in an advanced state.
- Should everyone be lifting weights in an intense manner? If you don't know the answer to this question, think about your grandparents, a pregnant woman, an underslept/overconsuming college student, a depressed relative, a single mother or countless other examples. If the nutrition and lifestyle factors mentioned below are not taken into account during intense training, only God knows what the result may be. Perhaps your arteries will "stiffen." For more on this topic, see my Q&A on "Stress & Exercise - the Good & the Bad."
- Vague Verbiage:
- Once again, define "healthy."
- Define "stiffen," and how was this measured? Perhaps by "stiffen," this study is eluding to an increased cross section of the artery(s)..? Or is it eluding to an increase in rigidity? Or is it eluding to internal plaque build up? Or a possibility may be that myofascial adhesions developed with the intense training "stiffening up" the muscle bellies surrounding the tested arteries?
- Is stiffening hazardous or beneficial? Again, define "stiffen." Could weight training be contributing integrity rather than allowing flaccidity? We’ve been lifting weights (whether iron, stone, log or other) since the beginning of time.
- Is “stiffening” a natural adaptation to the demands placed on the body to perform the task more effectively? Or is there some other variable in the weight training equation that our ancestors physiological adaptation didn’t have to deal with by “stiffening” (white sugar, MSG, homogenization, soil depletion, carpet fumes, etc.)?
- Nutrition and Lifestyle Factors:
- What was the quality/quantity of nutritional intake of the subjects? Were they consuming high quality whole foods (preferably organic) with respect to their Metabolic Types? See my Q&As on "Metabolic Typing" and/or "Osteopenia."
- How much water versus "agents of dehydration"(i.e., alcohol, Gatorade/Powerade, other "ades," coffee, milk, juice, soda, etc.), were being consumed?
- Were lifestyle factors taken into account (i.e., sleep, stress)? Please see my PTontheNET.com article on "Sleep, Water & Food."
Let's get real. The benefits of an intelligently progressed exercise, health and wellness program far outweigh any risks that this small propaganda-packed article could ever hope to provide.
I hope this helps convince your client to keep exercising.
Recommended Reading & References:
- Flatten your Abs Forever by Paul Chek. Video Cassette. CHEK Institute, 2000.
- Rampton, S., & Stauber, J. (2002). Trust Us, We're Experts!
- O'Shea, Dr. T. "The Doors Of Perception: Why Americans Will Believe Almost Anything." Online. www.mercola.com, Internet. 2002.
- Wilson, Aaron., CHEK Practitioner Level 4, Personal Email Communication. 8 Nov. 2004.