Tuesday, July 20, 2010

‘Cardio Fitness Can Save Your Life’ by Forrest Blanding – Book Review and Giveaway

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I have made a point this year of being more conscientious with regard to my physical health. The latest book on my reading list, ‘Cardio Fitness Can Save Your Life’ is in line with that goal.

Here is the synopsis of this book:

A readable analysis of new findings from scientific research on exercise that reveal its even larger importance to health, and how we can exercise much more efficiently for a longer and more enjoyable life.
We are told incessantly that we should exercise, but not accurately how we need to exercise to usefully improve our health. Many are now wasting time doing far more incorrect exercise than is useful. Author and scientific analyst Forrest Blanding first showed the importance of cardiofitness to health in his 1982 book, The Pulse Point Plan (Random House). His new book cited as “Excellent” by top authority Dr. Kenneth Cooper who is known as the “Father of aerobic exercise” provides new insights on how we need to exercise to achieve better health.
He shows us how to measure our cardio progress with a new simple-to-use Cardiofitness Point method, and how a correct Cardio Fitness Ratio can be more important to our health and future life than is cholesterol, blood pressure, or even smoking! He shows how proper walking can be ten times more productive of health than is some ordinary walking. He also shows us how to formulate new and more efficient moderate exercise programs for cardio and overall health, and how to make our future years significantly more healthy and enjoyable ones!

Here is the biography of this author:

The author and scientific analyst Forrest Blanding was born in a suburb of Chicago. He received a degree in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois and a post graduate degree from Princeton University. He was a career employee of the Exxon (now Exxon Mobil) Corporation for 35 years as researcher, manager and executive. He worked in New Jersey and in New York City and travelled the world. Retired, he now lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.

During the 1970's, he became interested in the importance of exercise to long range health as a personal project because of his poor family health history. Most researchers then were dismissing exercise as unimportant. From what was a most extensive-then five year study of exercise research, he found that cardiovascular fitness from exercise was a major factor involved in risk of heart disease. His book ‘The Pulse Point Plan,' published by Random House in 1982, provided a first scientific verification of the importance of what is now termed cardiorespiratory or cardiofitness. This book was introduced by Dr. Samuel Fox, the top regarded authority on exercise and heart disease at that time.

During past two decades, Forrest has been developing the Life Ahead Program that is today's most advanced scientific computer model of how life-style habits and factors produce the major diseases that terminate life. This project has included a Global Analysis of all published research on exercise and disease that is described in this book. The Life Ahead Model, a free download, values how all types of exercise are involved in causing the major terminators of life. The program is available at and verified by nearly 100 scientific papers published on the internet at www.lifeahead.net.

These new and more extensive analyses now show that cardiofitness may be more important to our health and life than the other major risks of cholesterol, blood pressure or cigarette smoking. Yet, incredibly, most health experts today seem to have little understanding either of cardiofitness or of its importance. A major problem has been the lack of a useful measure of cardiofitness, and a generally useful test for measuring it. This book provides solutions to each of these problems.

In the Prologue, Mr. Blanding explains that this book brings to the public some conclusions pertaining to exercise benefitting health that he’s come to after decades of analysis and study:

This book shows for the first time, from more than twenty years of scientific analysis, how exercise benefits health. A new theory from this analysis deserves to be called revolutionary because it upsets so many wrong ideas about how exercise benefits us. This new Heart Theory of Exercise and Cardiofitness shows that 85% of the exercise benefits to our health develop from the cardiofitness it produces. Cardiofitness is a measurable physical condition of our heart and its accompanying cardiovascular muscle that can be improved only by aerobic exercise. Exercise that does not contribute to cardiofitness – and this is much of what many now do – can be of little benefit to health.
The new Heart Theory shows that cardiofitness does not develop from calorie amounts of physical activity, as has commonly been assumed. It develops from the same process that improves other muscles, as for example how those in our arms develop from weightlifting. This new theory explains the many previously puzzling research findings about how exercise benefits us. (p. vi)

As a result of these findings, Mr. Blanding has come up with an exercise program that incorporates what he’s learned:

I suggest a simple but scientifically-designed new exercise program for nearly everyone called CARDIO 120. This program, requiring just one and a half to two hours a week of exercise, should develop for sedentary people, an improvement in cardiofitness from nearly any type or combination of moderate exercises. Continued faithfully over an extensive time, CARDIO 120 can develop a high level of cardiofitness from an exciting new concept called cardio feed back. CARDIO 120 did this for me. (p. vii)

Mr. Blanding explains what this book is:

This is not a book about bodybuilding and athletics. It gives a new message about how correct exercise can improve our health. It shows how we can waste enormous amounts of time doing exercise that can be of little benefit. It explains and extensively verifies how cardiofitness from moderate exercise can contribute more to our health and longevity than any other now known thing. I hope you will enjoy reading this book, and that it will help you enjoy a longer and better life. (p. vii)

Mr. Blanding uses a measure called cardiofitness ratio, or CFR, to assess one’s health:

An average CFR of men and women is 100, and the unfit group of men and women in this research had about a 90 CFR, or a cardiofitness 90% of that of average. The moderate fitness group had a CFR of about 110, and the high cardiofitness groups had a quite high cardiofitness of about 140 CFR or 140% average for age and gender.  (p. 7-8)

The latest research has shown that two hours of exercise per week is adequate for good cardiofitness:

Walking for durations up to about 2 hours per week at a given pace and exercise intensity reduces risk of heart disease as expected. Walking similarly for amounts beyond 2 hours per does not reduce this risk further.
This discovery is both new and shocking. Nearly every ‘expert’  recommendation about exercise has told us that we should walk at least 30 minutes  nearly every day and from 3 ½ to 7 hours per week. Yet nearly every useful research study on walking shows no further reduction in risk of heart disease for walking in excess of two hours per week! This was not just ordinary research. It included multiple results from our largest and most respected studies of up to 70,000 persons. Have millions been mostly wasting time doing vast amounts of exercise that produces near zero health benefit? (p. 20)

Mr. Blanding’s Heart Theory of Exercise explains how cardiovascular exercise benefits the body:

Our cardiovascular system is in part of muscle. Cardiofitness is a measure of a physical capability that determines how effectively our heart can circulate blood and its nutrients throughout its extensive system of arteries, veins and capillaries. The Heart Theory holds that cardiofitness develops from the building of heart muscle by the same process that strengthens other body muscles such as those in arms and legs. This concept is not new. What is new is the specific way that cardiofitness develops – or will not develop usefully – from different kinds of exercise. A higher blood flow developed throughout the cardiovascular system provides a higher exercise intensity similar to that produced by the lifting of more weight in a weightlifting program. Muscle builds from the added blood flow in the cardio system and duration of this higher blood flow. Muscle builds similarly from the weight size and number of repetitions of lifting it in a resistance exercise program. (pp. 25-26)

I was fascinated with Chapter 7 – ‘How Cardiofitness Reduces Risk of Major Disease.’ I am of the opinion that we need to more focused on disease prevention before we get the disease, so that we don’t have to worry about (at least to a lesser extent) getting a deadly disease. Mr. Blanding provides a lot of evidence for how cardiofitness can do that. The reduction of heart disease is obvious, but there is also evidence that cardiofitness reduces the risk of cancer:

The risks of each type of cancer appeared to be reduced similarly by an improvement in cardiofitness. An average 4% reduction in cancer risk was obtained for each unit increase in cardiofitness in CFR (p. 79)

A disease that is exploding in this country is diabetes. Improved cardiofitness reduces the risk of that devastating illness:

Each increase of 1 unit or 1% in the CFR appeared to reduce risk off diabetes by 5%. This compares with values of 6.4% per CFR for heart disease and 4% per CFR for cancer.
This suggests that an increase of ten in CFR from a quite brisk walking program should reduce diabetes risk by 40%. A 25% increase in CFR from an effective cardio exercise program should reduce risk by more than three times. These values all are for people of a given weight. A much larger benefit from exercise than this probably will develop because weight also is usually reduced by exercise (pp. 81-82)

Another advantage to good cardiofitness is that it helps reduce weight:

But muscle weighs more than the fat it replaces, and this part of the advantage for building muscle from resistance exercise could be lost when measured on the weight scale. A response here is that a person’s figure will be improved a bit despite this problem of muscle weighing more than fat. (p. 130)

Here are some benefits from resistance training (p. 133):

·         reduces body weight
·         improves body density and reduces risk of osteoporosis
·         decreases incidence of injuries and risk of falls
·         reduces blood pressure
·         reduces arthritic pain
·         improves glucose tolerance
·         improves value of cholesterol
·         can improve appearance and body image better

Another benefit of exercise is that it can lower stress:

Exercise can take your mind off of troubling problems and gives you a timeout from them. It may break down the hormones and other chemicals that build up during periods of intense stress. The electrical activity of tense muscles decreases measurably after a bout of exercise. (p. 162)

Exercise can also improve your mood:

Studies indicate that exercise can be as effective as some antidepressants in treating mild depression. Moderately depressed persons who engage in aerobic exercise often experience a mood change after two to three weeks of exercise. This may be due to changes in brain nutrition such as an increase in endorphins, and a decrease in cortisol and other stress hormones. (p. 162)

Having a history of depression myself, I am relieved to have exercise as a treatment option.

As I am just getting into running (after years of marathon/half marathon walking), I was happy to learn this about that activity:

[Running] may be the #1 of all exercises that contribute to cardiofitness. Yes, it does contribute several times more falls and injuries than does walking. But any overall health debit for this must be trivial compared with the major benefits.
Running may be the best of all usual exercises that can reduce weight. Runner says that they obtain exhilaration and euphoria well into and after a run. This comes from a beta endorphin release triggered by the neurons in the nervous system that creates a feeling of extreme happiness and exhilaration. Runners claim to achieve more energy in daily life. And it helps bring appetite, exercise and food into balance. Because running makes the body function better, it improves sleeping, eating and relaxation. (pp. 169-170)  

Mr. Blanding has a free computer program called Life Ahead, which is available on his website, www.lifeahead.net. This website also has nearly 100 mostly informal scientific papers describing the construction of the model and the analyses for each included health risk and disease:

I have been developing the Life Ahead Program now for more than three decades. It now provides today most comprehensive and sophisticated representation of how lifestyle habits determine our risks of different major diseases, likely length of life, and the number of future days, both well and alive, we are able to enjoy. (p. 182)

I have to admit that my eyes glazed over at times with all of the charts and graphs and analysis of scientific research. Practical information (for me, the non-scientist) came later on in the book.
I have tried to make a point to take control of my own health (to the extent that I am able through diet and exercise), as opposed to allowing the medical establishment controlling it for me. 
I would prefer to focus on exercise and good dietary choices instead of pharmaceuticals, etc…  I thank Mr. Blanding for sharing his passion and for providing this useful tool to help me move forward to better health and happiness!

You can order this book here.

This book was published by Bascom Hills Publishing Group and provided by them for review and giveaway purposes.

I have a copy of this book (thanks to Emily at Bascom Hill Publishing Group!) that I would love to send along to one of you! 

There are several ways to gain entry:

1) Leave a comment here on the blog, telling me how you would practically use this book.  Please make sure to leave your email address in this format – sample[at]gmail[dot]com.

2) Follow Bascom Hill Publishing on Twitter; please let me know that you have done so in a new comment.

3) Visit Forrest's site, and give me your thoughts on it in a new comment.

4) Follow me on Twitter; I will more than likely follow you back!  If you are already a Twitter follower, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

5) Follow me as a Google Friend on this blog; if you are already a Friend, that counts, too!  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

6) Become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

7) Follow this blog as a NetWorked Blog Follower after you’ve become my Facebook friend.  Please leave a new comment to that effect.

So there are seven chances to enter!  Please limit one entry per option.

This giveaway is for U.S. residents only.  The deadline for entry is Tuesday, August 3, 2010 at 11:59 p.m. EST.  A winner will be chosen via the Random Number Generator on Wednesday, August 4, 2010 and will be contacted via email.  The best to all of you!


Alan said...

I recently visited your blog. It is a very interesting one. Keep it up.


karenk said...

thanks for the chance to read this life changing book ;)

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

karenk said...

forrest's site is very inspirational...and motivating.

kmkuka at yahoo dot com

Linda Kish said...

I had a heart problem late last year and needed to get in better shape. I stopped drinking soda, lost 10 pounds so far but I need to increase my cardio workouts.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

Kate said...

I personally can't use a book like this unfortunately since I have chronic pain and can't do much exercise... my father on the other hand could use a little more cardio in his life, so if I won I'd give it to him. ; )


Steve Capell said...

I would love to read more about the CARDIO 120 plan. Thanks for hosting this contest.

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