The fitness experts keep telling us that an hour of brisk walking is as good for us as more intense exercise sessions. They say that the benefits of a nice walk are equivalent to those achieved by taking a run, sweating out a spinning class or doing intervals in the pool. No matter how many times they repeat their mantra of mediocrity, logic tells us otherwise.

Let's take an example from the world of mathematics, where logic and common sense reign supreme. A group of scientists gather together 60 adults of normal intelligence. They want to see which of two programs will improve math problem solving skills more. They divide the study subjects into two groups of 30 each. The participants in each group will work on math word problems every night for six months.

The one group is given the assignment of doing first- and second-grade math problems. They will solve problems such as: Johnny has two cookies. Sarah has one cookie. How many more cookies does Johnny have than Sarah? And, is it sexist for the boy to have more cookies than the girl? Another problem might state: Johnny has 10 cookies. Bobby has one cookie. How many fewer cookies does Bobby have than Johnny and how soon before Bobby swipes some of Johnny's cookies? And is it okay for Bobby to steal Johnny's cookies since he obviously has more than his fair share? The individuals in this group do 200 problems each night, which takes them, on average, 45 minutes.

The second group is going to do high-school math problems -- trigonometry, algebra, and calculus. Their problems go something like this: A train leaves Chicago heading due west at 60 mph and another leaves Denver heading east at 40 mph. The wind is blowing out of the south-southwest at 43 knots. How long will it be before someone realizes that the trains are on the same track and are going to crash? Since the problems are more difficult, these test subjects are going to do just two problems per night -- taking about 15 minutes. In other words, they are solving just one one-hundredth as many problems as the other group and spending just one-third the time on the project.

The question is: Which group will improve the most over the six months of the experiment? It is plainly the group that was challenged the most -- even though they did far fewer problems and spent much less time on the project. What makes you think it would be otherwise is the world of improving one's health and fitness? The experts will continue to tell us otherwise, hoping that if they tell us often enough, we'll start to believe them. In the end, though, it just doesn't add up!

Ed Mayhew is a speaker and author of ** Fitter for Life** and

**www.FitterForLife.com**

*Fitter After 50*
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