Sport, as a hobby for health, from the point of view of the engineer

Picture from Google to attract attention.

On GT, functional health issues are increasingly being discussed. In this article I want to give an analysis of various types of activity and related adaptations. For myself, I chose the main criterion for optimizing the quality of life in the long term, combined with the maximum pleasure at the moment. Nevertheless, I will try to consider the pros and cons of various sports (physical culture) concepts as versatile as possible and dispel some myths.

Disclaimer: It so happened that I adhere to not the most popular views in society on physical activity and lifestyle. It is likely that some on this resource already consider me a fanatic. And although I really am a promoter of strength training, I hope the article does not seem too one-sided or agitational.

For those who are too lazy to read: our choice is rocking and swimming. Running, games and great - at will.

The content of the article:

  1. Limitations of this analysis
  2. Sports and Mortality
  3. Muscle mass and bone density, or why just swimming is not enough
  4. Sports and injuries
  5. Threshold of entry and learning complexity
  6. Quality of life, or why the role of cardio is exaggerated
  7. Sport and metabolism (weight loss, diabetes, etc.)
  8. Emotional component

Limitations of this analysis

Despite the rather serious interest in the topic, neither the knowledge nor the presentation format can cover absolutely all sports and the nuances of their influence. If I suddenly missed something important for you, I am ready to discuss it separately in the comments.

Will be considered in the first place: classic cardio (running and cycling), swimming, strength training. Something else may appear in the overall statistics. Will not be considered: home simulators, simulators for cardio (ellipsoids, etc.), gaming and contact sports. Also, I will not separately consider running on a track, track or down the street. Swimming in the pool and in open water is not divided.

I will not divide the sport into professional and amateur, because it is not relevant in the framework of the subject matter. Instead, the division will be competitive and not competitive (for yourself). Since Health is a priority, the choice of competition is not recommended (of course, this is a personal matter for everyone). In spite of this, data with completely different classification principles may appear in the links to sources.

Sports and Mortality

Here we must immediately recognize that the question is not consensus. However, there are several studies on fairly large samples of people. All data, of course, epidemiological. This means that there is some additional risk of errors, since we do not know cause-effect relationships and side factors. That is, there is a chance that people choosing one sport or another have a specific view of life, habits, and so on. On the other hand, we know that we know that people are not all that different on average, which allows us to draw rather reasonable conclusions.

Before reading further, let's remember what doctors advise us. Surely many people have heard that you will walk and run more - you will live happily ever after. Is it so?

Swimming, running and other cardio

The work of 2008 covers more than 40,000 people aged 20–90 years and compares swimming with walks, jogging and the usual sedentary lifestyle. The results, let's say, are surprising.
After correction for age, body mass index (BMI), smoking, alcohol, and heredity of cardiovascular diseases, it turned out that swimmers have a 53%, 50%, and 49% less all cause mortality than those who went, ran and did nothing accordingly.
Work 2016. This time there were more than 80,000 participants with an average age of 52 ± 14 years. Results:
A significant decrease in total mortality was observed in cyclists (HR = 0.85, 95% CI 0.76 to 0.95), swimmers (HR = 0.72, 95% CI 0.65 to 0.80), in sports with rackets (HR = 0.53, 95% CI 0.40 to 0.69) and aerobics (HR = 0.73, 95% CI 0.63 to 0.85). There was no significant difference between the players and the runners.
A significant reduction in cardiovascular mortality (CVD) was observed in swimmers (HR = 0.59, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.75), in sports with rackets (HR = 0.44, 95% CI 0.24 to 0.83) and aerobics (HR = 0.64, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.92), but there was no significant connection with the bike, jogging and football.

HR = Hazard Ratio = the proportion of the dead compared to the control (not sports) group.

The authors explain that the dependence for cyclists is dose-dependent and gives a 10% reduction in total mortality at a volume of 11.25 MET-hours per week. For runners, there is a decrease in mortality in the raw data, but not after correction for lifestyle, gender, age, and so on.


I wanted to give the data on powerlifting and weightlifting - the very directions that cause righteous anger in very, very many people. An unpleasant surprise was waiting for me here - it was not possible to find good statistics on strength sports. Nevertheless, there are studies of strength training on a fairly large sample.

First published in 2008 . Participants - 8762 men aged 20-80 years. The observation was conducted for almost 19 years. They were divided into 3 groups according to the level of power indicators, and the result is presented like this.


The second is newer and it already has more than 30,000 people over the age of 65 years. The work is notable for the fact that there is an intervention in it, and not just observation. People were recommended a strength training program with classes twice a week. Only 9.6% said they did everything, but their mortality was as much as 46% lower than the rest. It is significant that this roughly corresponds to the schedule from the previous work.

Conclusion number 1

Being strong is awesome! The strong live longer and the older you are - the more important it is. If you want to live a long time, then swimming is steeper than a rocker.

Muscle mass and bone density, or why just swimming is not enough

As we found out above, in terms of longevity, swimming is the best choice. Ok, let's say we live to be old. Cancer and all sorts of heart problems have already been taken into account, what else can prevent us from rejoicing? Obviously - domestic injuries. Is it related to sports?

There are a number ( one , two , three ) of works indicating a serious relationship between the risk of fractures and bone density. Osteoporosis is known to become a very common problem with age. And although it is impossible to completely avoid age-related changes, there is a chance to influence them very strongly. As it turned out, different activities have different effects. You can read about it in detail here . Initially it is dedicated to cyclists, but there is a comparison with the rest. In short: cyclists are prone to bone loss in the hip and lumbar spine. It turns out that this problem is often associated with the predominance of activity without shock loads (non impact). Swimmers have the same problem, and according to some reports, the matter can reach the curvature of the femurs. But after all, just to think, the absence of vibrations is the very thing for which these sports are so loved!

Go ahead. Obviously, the highest density of bones in the lower body of runners. In the neck of the thigh, they are already avoiding pitching (just like everyone else in all other parts of the body). At the same time, swimmers have stronger hand bones than runners, and in tennis players the strength of bones (hands) is not symmetrical for the left and right parts of the body. There is an interesting trend.

It turns out that if we normalize the results for muscle mass, they will almost all become equal, and only the runners have some bones that are still denser. Another read on the topic: one , two , three , four , five

In addition to the direct strength of the bones, the frequency of falls makes a large contribution to the risk of injury (and not only fractures). I think many have seen it at least once, so the consequences of a fall for a person can be fatal. It turns out that both strength and coordination (agility) training improves balance and reduces the likelihood of falls. A similar effect (a little suddenly) gives swimming .

Conclusion number 2

In order to be not only durable, but also mechanically strong, it is necessary to maintain uniform development of skeletal muscles throughout the body. That is, to swim is cool, but you cannot turn away from working with weights.

Sports and injuries

Ok, the general trend has been around, but we don’t want to break directly in training - is it worth it? Then let everyone decide for himself - just give a few links to statistics.
About different sports, in general . About spinal injuries . In short, according to different data for power sports (powerlifting, weightlifting, strongman ) range from 0.006 to 6 cases per 1000 man-hours. In this case, Strongman is more dangerous than the first two by 1-2 orders of magnitude.

One and two - about the "heart of an athlete." This is not a trauma, but many still believe in the myth that the strokes have terrible non-functional crap instead of heart. There, by the way, about many other sports is a very interesting material, but its description would require a separate article.

Swimming , contrary to myths, also has negative effects on the musculoskeletal system. The " swimmer's shoulder " even got its name by analogy with the " runner's knee ." And the most surprising (honestly) is that even swimming has a risk for the heart. Fortunately, we are talking about long competitive swims (and we have already agreed against the competition), so it’s not worth overcoming.

Threshold of entry and learning complexity

I do not have proofs for this section, but we will try to do with logic.

When it comes to any kind of activity, everyone is divided into two camps: it is necessary to learn and that and so everyone knows how. This can be said about walking, running, lifting weights - in general about everything. On the one hand, everyone really has some basic motor patterns and reflexes. On the other hand, a person is born zero in this regard, which means they are different.

There is an important moment in sport: any biomechanical non-optimal movement performed under heavy loads and / or many times sooner or later leads to injuries. For acute or fatigue - it does not matter (bursitis can hurt no worse than sprains).

Experience shows that different people have completely different sets of these patterns. Someone they are terrible in terms of biomechanics, but someone is beautiful. This means that if we want maximum security, it is easier to assume that no one knows how.

The threshold of entry depends on the desired location / equipment, the complexity of the movement and the difficulty of obtaining feedback.

With equipment, everything is relatively simple - the fitness industry is booming. With the rest more difficult.

The complexity of the movements of all (except for the bicycle) sports discussed is about the same - it is the number of joints involved. What about feedback?

And here there is plenty of room for misunderstanding. Many people argue that running and swimming is easy, and squatting is hard. In fact, everything is not so. Let's start in order.

All movements can be divided into smooth and explosive. Explosives include running, jumping and many movements of weightlifting (push, jerk, etc.). Smooth includes walking, swimming (not sure what all styles are, but nonetheless) and powerlifting movements.

Explosive movements have one big problem - they cannot be performed slowly. That is why shooting is used for high-speed camera training. Simple mistakes can be identified even with some experience, but it will be difficult to achieve a really high level. The same with weightlifting, but it also requires high flexibility / mobility / stretching (I don’t know how to call it better).

The second problem is that for such classes it is very difficult to find a good coach. Yes, at least some would find. Personally, I corrected the running technique for half a year - a year, until I achieved the opportunity to run comfortably and painlessly for a long time. Swimming is also relevant. Moreover, if a bad technique of running declares itself immediately, then the swimmer can wait for pain for years. The most common mistake is excessive drooping of the head (overloading the cervical region). You can say that this is simple - he took it and stopped throwing it back. Perhaps this is so, but I can not - I just can not understand in what phase then take a breath and so on. To achieve energy-efficient style is also not easy on their own.

Left barbell. It will be about basic strength exercises: squats, deadlifts, presses (standing and lying) and pulling up (yes, this is not a barbell). I'm used to hearing how terribly dangerous it is - press down, break, break, and so on. Fortunately, this is a myth. Strongly rastrachenny (consider, to the weak) to person to be engaged in a kachalochka safer, than with a body weight. There are a number of reasons for this.

First, no one forces you to immediately hang up 100 kilograms. For training, you can use the load up to weightless (PVC tube). Also, in any normal room there is a set of dumbbells and fitness sticks from 0.5 to how many kilograms you need. Moreover, there are machines (machines / simulators) that allow you to perform the exercise with less effort than without them (for example, special platforms for pull-ups and push-ups, a machine for leg presses, etc.).

Secondly, the movement can be performed infinitely slowly. You can use a mirror or video fixation in different planes. Combined with the presence of a huge number of training videos (including very high-quality ones), this makes learning a safe movement technique a matter of a few hours for most people. (Of course, if a person is too weak to perform the movement without burdening, more time will be required.)

Here it is necessary to mention the important advantage of swimming - it is suitable for people with injuries to hands or feet, or even lack of a part of them. That is, for people who cannot do anything else (in fact, I saw a one-armed girl doing a barbell jerk more than I do with both hands, but I don’t think it’s worth summarizing this case).

Conclusion number 3

If we don’t want to bother with coaches and a long working out of movements, our choice is rocking chair and a bicycle. By the way, this is quite a good combination. However, I believe that if swimming is not overwhelming and in not very large volumes, then it will fit even with not very good technique. But running is worth forgetting, unless it is an end in itself for some reason.

Quality of life, or why the role of cardio is exaggerated

The quality of life we ​​will call the ability to perform everyday tasks: washing dishes, tying shoelaces, dragging a bag of sand products from the store and so on. An advanced level involves playing with my grandchildren (I remember that as a child I fought with my grandfather. Not very successfully - he was a strong type), a vegetable garden, travels and anything else.

There is a relatively new publication on this topic, which states:
In fact, many daily activities do not require high aerobic capacity (large aerobic output), but depend on skeletal muscle health.
In other words, it does not matter at all how long you can maintain a pulse at 140 if you do not have the strength to get up from the chair.

The magic is that a person cannot train a movement that he cannot perform. That is, as soon as he lost the opportunity to sit down and stand in full amplitude, he will no longer be able to learn it back without special summing up exercises. After some time, he will not be able to climb the stairs, and so on. Disability breeds disability. You may ask, “why does he suddenly weaken at all?” It's simple. Daily life does not provide sufficient incentives. The background of anabolic hormones decreases with age, and the mass is increasingly difficult to maintain. At some point, the forces will be exactly back to back - it is worth getting sick for a week, and then you can never get up (I personally watched this). Thus, a huge number of aged people lead a much less rich life than they could, just because their bodies did not receive enough stimulus to maintain muscle mass. (The ability to save it with)

As a result, the authors prescribe the implementation of strength exercises and stretching at least twice a week. Flexibility is also lost with age, but for a number of reasons I did not touch the stretch in this article.

Here you should pay attention to the previously discussed strength exercises. In addition to the bench press, they all have a complete kinetic chain (the force is transferred from the floor to the arms through the whole body). In fact, they are directly related to ordinary household chores, when we have something in our hands and we somehow operate with it standing or sitting. Squats close enough to climb the stairs or a steep hill, the deadlift repeats the lifting of objects from the floor.

Why it is impossible to replace all this with simulators? And because free-weight exercises, among other things, teach us to keep balance under load and apply strength more efficiently / optimally. And the forces are also inertial (when we stumble, when the trolley bus slows down / turns, etc.), this again brings us back to the issue of preventing domestic injuries.

Conclusion number 4

The strong live not only longer, but more fun.

Sport and metabolism (weight loss, diabetes, etc.)


Let's start with an important caveat: “fat burning workouts” does not happen (we are talking about a special term that in the modern fitness industry is supposedly a special kind of training that supposedly contributes to the targeted burning of subcutaneous fat). It has long been proven that losing weight completely depends on the average daily balance of energy and nothing more. This has been repeatedly discussed on the GT. That is, to eat less than you want, you still have to. However, there are 2 strategies for losing weight.

Few eat and run a lot. Why is that bad:

A good alternative is to eat moderately little and engage in power. At a very high deficit with power, everything is bad, so there is very little to eat. The weight will go away slowly, but the quality of the changes in the body will be better. A moderate amount of cardio is welcome, but not required.

All three options are well illustrated with a picture from the study . Similar data is in other work. In fact, they are full with similar results.


Thus, we have just received proofs of the fact that it is quite possible at the same time to lose weight (burn fat) and gain muscle mass.

Glucose exchange

It's simple. It is proved that the exhaustion of glycogen depots leads to an increased absorption of glucose by the muscles . In an obvious way, this leads to a more stable carbohydrate and fatty metabolism (they are related), reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes and all that further down the chain (chronic inflammation, atherogenesis, brain problems, etc.).

It is also proven that a decrease in glucose uptake by muscles plays a role in the development of metabolic syndrome.

Conclusion number 5

To maintain metabolic health, it is necessary to maintain a certain amount of muscle mass and ensure that its glycogen stores are periodically emptied. The first place in terms of efficiency is rocking, the second is swimming (on average, swimmers are superior to runners in muscle mass, fat mass and BMI) and dynamic sports.

Emotional component

It's simple. It has been proven that physical activity (regardless of the type, but depending on the dosage) leads to an increase in mood, self-confidence, a decrease in anxiety and signs of depression. There are a bunch of links to this topic:

Approximately the same effect is observed on personal experience, both from myself and from everyone I taught. Of those who came to the hall, no one expresses regret about it.

It is important to note one point. In the creation of the background involved several ways of regulation.

1 - Opiate. In fact, we are talking about a surge in endorphins as a result of the load. Personally, I think that getting their peak can be much easier with the help of a short intensive strength training. In fact, I can come to the gym, warm up, do one exercise and dump happy gymnastics out of the gym in 20 minutes. I can get the same effect from running, but it takes significantly more time, and in the end I will be very tired.

2 - Dopaminergic. The effect is due to progress in training. If you just do the same thing every time with the same load for the same time, etc. and etc., then nothing happens. And it is sports progress that gives self-confidence (an increase in self-esteem). Thus, even though I spoke strongly against the competition, I set a constant growth goal for the training, albeit a slow one. It does not depend on the sport.

Hormonal reaction to training is worth a separate article.

Final conclusions

PS Any activity is better than no activity - nothing is worse than hypodynamia.

PPS A lot of questions were left out of the narrative, and many were revealed only superficially. Nevertheless, I consider the above conclusions to be quite reasonable, and I am ready to discuss any of them in the comments.

Some may argue that sport without competition is not sport, and I had to use the term "physical education". I will explain my position on this issue: the fact is that physical education is a very abstract concept, which says absolutely nothing. Sport also implies, firstly, a specific type of activity and, secondly, the desire to improve their performance.

"Competitive sport" is different in that it sets the goal of victory within the framework of the rules set at any cost. That is, the improvement of the general condition of a person does not bother anyone. Moreover, even the physical indicators themselves are not the ultimate goal, if the rules of the competition make it possible to achieve victory somehow (have vulnerabilities).

UPD2 (about fat burning):
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