President Trump Is Completely, Utterly, Scientifically Wrong About Exercise

Maybe he’s been reading fake fitness news.

Image courtesy of Flickr.

Say what you want about him, Donald Trump has a way of leaving you speechless.

As in: how could a wealthy, well-educated 70-year old man — the president! — think this is true?

The latest jaw-dropper comes in the form of the POTUS’s views on fitness. Apparently, it’s bad for you: “Other than golf, he considers exercise misguided, arguing that a person, like a battery, is born with a finite amount of energy,” Evan Osnos reports the New Yorker.

But Trump doesn’t appear to be lying: he apparently really thinks this is true. Trump gave up athletics after college, the Washington Post’s Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher explain in their 2016 biography of the president. Sports were time wasted. Later, when he heard that one of his casino executives was doing a triathlon, he chastised him, reportedly saying “you are going to die young because of this.”

The president is precisely wrong. There are knowable, empirically tested facts about exercise — and they all point to the link between fitness and longevity.

A 2015 study of over 661,000 adults found that doing two and half hours a week of exercise was linked to a 31 percent lower chance of dying in the 14-year period studied than those who never worked out. (The never-exercisers also had the highest risk of early death.) This followed up on a 2009 analysis of 33 studies that involved a total of almost 190,000 people. The conclusion there: the greater your cardiovascular fitness, the less likely you are to die. Another study out this year put it down to a simple ratio: an hour spent running turns into seven extra hours of life.

The president’s remarkably counterfactual views extend back to when he was merely a mogul. In a 1986 interview, he said that his main way of staying in shape was walking up flights of stairs when he’s in buildings under construction. It’s “better than running,” he offered.

When the Post took Trump’s bizarre body-as-battery outlook to a sports physician, the doc did his best, cautioning that while exercise does indeed stress the body, it is not drained — effort prompts the heart and muscles to adapt, gaining in strength, stamina, and even their communications with the brain. “If we can create a battery that, every time it’s used, actually becomes more powerful and efficient, then sure, our body is like that battery,” explained Michael Jonesco, a sports medicine specialist at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center. (So this one’s on you, Elon.)

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