I have been doing some endurance activities, such as 47 km Hinoichi Nordic walking or 150 km Biwaichi cycling. This is to commemorate my 60-year-old birthday, testing my fitness level to see if I am still capable of doing these intense activities, but are they good for longevity?
There seem to be certain studies suggesting that they are, especially if they are cardio activities.
However, my feeling, after having done them, is that they may not support your longevity. They are too strenuous.
You know, a hermetic stressor is a moderate stress, not too much stress. Intermittent fasting is a good example, if you fast for 16 to 18 hours a day, it is moderate stress, but if you fast 24 hours to 72 hours on a regular basis, it is too much stress. If you practice 72 hours fast every week, for example, it might lead to starvation.
So, 3 to 4 kilometers of walking or running every day is moderate enough, but if you run over 6 kilometers every day, it may be too much.
I am talking about people over 50 or 60, if you are younger, this can change, and if you are athletic, it can change, too. It all depends on each person’s capability, of course.
For me, 3 km’s Nordic walking, which takes about 40 minutes, around 4500 steps, is just the right amount. I feel comfortable, yet it is strenuous enough to do it 5 days a week, along with HIIT 3 times a week.
I did Hinoichi and Biwaichi just for my birthday, and I don’t do them every week or every month, so I don’t think they are harmful. Yes, once or twice a year, just doing them as your goals may be okay. Some people need that kind of goal to motivate your regular exercise. I don’t need it, I can happily go Nordic walking and do HIIT without a goal, but if you do, that is fine. All I am saying is you don’t need to do them. The most important thing is your regular workout. Consistency. Keep doing it regularly.
The reason I brought it up is that some of us might be pressured to do that kind of thing to prove our fitness. Recently, biohacking and the anti-aging field have overlapped, and biohacking includes optimization of your physical and mental capacity. Some people are in biohacking to improve their physical strength to become super athletes. Many videos are uploaded by these individuals demonstrating their ultra stamina or Herculean physique.
Just like on Instagram and Facebook, people like to share images of their success and achievements on YouTube, not when they fail. As a result, Youtube has full of videos of superhumans. They do it so easily as if anyone else can if you follow their protocol. When you watch them on a computer or smartphone screen in 5 minutes, one after another, you feel you can do it, too.
I know because I had experienced it myself. When I became interested in Omine-Okugake Trekking Trail, I watched many videos of people completing the 5-day trekking smoothly.
That made me feel I could do it, too.
But when I climbed Mt. Omine, that alone was tough enough, and I realized I could never do Omine-Okugake Trail Trekking.
I also watched many videos of people doing Biwaichi, and they, too, did it so easily. Some of them even did Biwaichi running, running around the biggest lake in Japan for 150 kilometers. That made me feel I could do it, too.
You know how it went, right?
I managed to do it, but it was much harder than these videos.
This is another problem of the digital culture. Reality is different from 5-minute images on the screen. When you spend a whole day moving your legs, feeling the air and wind, you experience the real world.
Another problem is the competitive nature we all have, especially men. We all want to be better than others. If you see someone showing their miraculous performance, you want to challenge it to see if you can do better.
It does not serve your longevity at all.
Centenarians weren’t superhumans, after all. They didn’t have bodies like bodybuilders, and they didn’t perform like top athletes. Rather, they were average people. They tend to be short and not so muscular. what they did was small actions every day consistently. they walked, worked in their garden, ate local organic diverse plant-based foods every day, and most of all, they were relaxed. They enjoyed their life without competition, without seeking glamour. They led a stress-free life.
You don’t have to prove yourself to be someone special in order to live long.
If you are in it for living longer and staying sick-free, you don’t need to do endurance sports or strenuous exercises.
I might do Biwaichi again, but I will enjoy sports this summer like doing my regular 3 km Nordic walking or 10 km Satoyama cycling, swimming in Lake Biwa, and playing soccer with my son.