Learning from Andrew Marr, Lionel Shriver... exercise – is it bad for your health?

 

Lock up your exercise machines! Or at least continue to use them as  towel racks. Because they could kill you. So suggests Andrew Marr, who partly blames newspaper articles (sorry, Andy) about the  virtues of intensive exercise for the stroke he suffered after an all-out session on his rowing machine.

“I had a strange feeling afterwards,” he told his own stand-in on his Sunday morning TV show. “A blinding headache, and flashes of light... I woke up the next morning lying on the floor unable to move.”

On the same day, Lionel Shriver, of needing to talk about Kevin fame, told The Sunday Times about her regimen of “130 press-ups... 200 side crunches, 500 sit-ups and 3,000 star jumps”. How many?! The jumps take 32½ minutes, the writer explained, or three every two seconds. Guys, what’s wrong with  a leisurely swim?

Marr’s right about newspapers. I wrote only this month about the Tabata Protocol, a four-minute workout of extreme, 20-second bursts devised by a Japanese professor. The first reader comment online said: “You should have a very well-trained heart for that kind of exercise. Otherwise you can die. Unexpectedly.”

Not so, say fitness experts, who accuse Marr of perpetuating Hollywood myths about the fragility of the heart. “It was sad he made  associations between two events which can’t be made,” says Jamie Timmons, professor of systems biology at Loughborough University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences. “The reasons for a stroke and vessel rupture are related to long-term processes. Given the history he has provided, such as smoking, it’s clear he was  high-risk. To say it’s down to one event is misleading.”

Timmins says that apart from saving time, high-intensity training is more efficient at processing stuff such as sugar, reducing the risk of developing diseases including diabetes. He cites a study in which 4,500 people already at risk of heart disease were put on a high-intensity fitness program, and were all fine. “I’d hate to think people were discouraged,” he says, suggesting a much greater risk to the nation’s health if they were.

What about Shriver’s workout? “Wow, it takes a very special personality to do that,” he says. “And probably no neighbours.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher

    Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: PMLD Teacher A specialist primary school i...

    Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

    Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

    Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

    Day In a Page

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

    Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
    Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

    The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

    Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
    Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

    Homeless Veterans appeal

    The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

    Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

    A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
    How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

    How books can defeat Isis

    Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

    She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
    The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

    The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

    The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

    Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
    Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

    Young carers to make dance debut

    What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
    Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

    Design Council's 70th anniversary

    Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
    Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

    Dame Harriet Walter interview

    The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

    Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

    Bill Granger's winter salads

    Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
    England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

    George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

    No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
    Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links