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You Can't Run to Get Fit

Ernst Moeksis / flickr

A brilliant Canadian physical therapist named Diane Lee once said that running is a poor choice of exercise for most people. Just take a look around at people running to try to get fit, and you'll soon realize why.

They're often men and women running with a visible limp. Usually they have a knee sleeve of some kind on, and when you ask them about their problem, they'll typically reply, "It loosens up after a while, and then I ice and take some Advil after." What a lousy idea.

Guess what: Good exercise should make you tired, but it should not hurt your joints. The discomfort should be limited to the muscles and should go away almost immediately after you're done.

We've built an entire industry to take care of running injuries. The unfortunate truth is that most people are not made to run. In particular, they're not made to run long distances.

It wasn't until the Kenneth Cooper-led aerobics craze of the '70s that many of us learned what a plantar fascia, iliotibial band, or a patellofemoral joint was. Of course we know now because these are just a few of the litany of injuries that plague runners.

Running is even worse for most women. Women have wider hips, which naturally give them a significant disadvantage in running. Throw in a couple of breasts to bounce around, and you've got some real issues. Great for the sports-bra industry, not great for women.

It's not that running is bad for everyone or that runners shouldn't run. But there's no reason for fitness enthusiasts to needlessly injure themselves when there are better options.

Your best bet: Do high-intensity exercise on a bike. The best bikes are the Schwinn Airdyne dual action bikes. Not surprisingly, most people who've ever ridden an Airdyne hate it. Know why? Because it is nearly impossible to cheat—you can't slump over or lean on the handlebars—and it's really hard. In other words, it's really effective.

Michael Boyle is one of the world’s leading experts in the area of performance enhancement and the owner of StrengthCoach.com. He is also the author of Functional Training for Sports.

Tags: Cardio, Running, Conditioning, Weight Loss