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"Active Lifestyle" -- Dangerous for Your Health

September 26, 2012


(left. Shriya Shah-Klorfine, 33, was one of six people who died climbing Mount Everest May 19, 2012.)

These stories reaffirm my commitment to staying at home.


by Henry Makow, Ph.D.

Almost to a man, medical doctors advocate an active lifestyle. However,  every week I see how this advice can lead to premature death.

Outdoor types do not live as long as homebodies who stick close to their computers, TV's and fridges. 

I mean no disrespect to the victims of the "active lifestyle". I think their foreshortened lives are a terrible waste. Why do people take unnecessary risks? 

Shriya Shaw-Klorfine ,33, was a Canadian of Nepalese origin who decided she had to climb Mount Everest.

"If she wanted something there was nothing you could say to stop her," her husband said. "She was very strong-willed, you could say Type A."

She invested $40,000 in the climb, and when her sherpas told her she didn't have enough oxygen to get back down, she wouldn't listen. To her credit, she reached the top but died on her way down.

hang1.jpegLenami Godinez-Avila, 27, is  another Canadian minority woman who died prematurely because of  active living. On April 28, 2012, she and her boyfriend were celebrating an anniversary by hang gliding.

Couldn't they have gone out for dinner instead?

Lenami went with the instructor first. But he neglected to attach her harness to the glider. A witness described what happened:

(The pilot) "was still horizontal but she was now hanging vertically and it looked like she was in essence, had him in a bear hug around the chest area," the witness said. "I could see her starting to slip down his body...down the legs, past the waist, down the legs. Finally she got to the feet and tried to hang on and obviously couldn't hang on for that much longer and let go, tearing off the tandem pilot's shoes in the process."

The poor girl fell 300 meters to her death while her boyfriend shouted his love for her. 

Elizabeth Anne Sovis, 63, was a speech pathologist and mother of two sons. 

Her husband, Edmund, was a professor of politics. They were enjoying their passion, cycling in Prince Edward Island when on July 14 they found that, to reach their hotel, there was only a two-lane highway with no shoulders. Elizabeth had always refused to ride on these highways but the hotel was only four kms away. She took a chance.

"Halfway through their ride, Edmund heard a loud bang behind him. Elizabeth had been struck by a brown van and died instantly." (Macleans, Aug. 20, 2012) 

Susami Sumi Yoda, 65, was a beloved Sushi chef at Casino Nova Scotia in Bedford N.S. On August 22, he went camping at Meat Cove at the upper end of Cape Breton Island. He pitched his tent just two meters from the edge of one of Meat Cove's steep rocky cliff's which afforded a wonderful sunrise view. 

Unfortunately, Susami must have been a sleepwalker. On Aug 24, his body was spotted at the bottom of cliff, 150 meters below his camp site. (Macleans, Sept. 17, 2012)  

I could go on. Every week Maclean's magazine prints an obituary of an untimely death and about half are due to the scourge of active living. 

Whether it's whitewater rafting, motorcycling, or back country skiing, there is nothing foolhardy Canadians won't do. 

I hope this short article will warn those who risk their lives needlessly, and comfort others like myself who confine their risk-taking to dog-walking and feeble attempts at satire. 

Comments for ""Active Lifestyle" -- Dangerous for Your Health"

Joe said (September 27, 2012):

Ever since high school, I have been a runner. I enjoy running. Not many people enjoy running, that's a given, I can see that and I respect those people who either hate running or just can't see the reason or wherewithal of running because you like it. It's okay for those people to do something else or do nothing at all. Not everyone is wired for the same things. Thank God for that! If everyone surfed, what would beaches look like? If everyone took to running, there would be no room on the local track to run at all!

Being past my competitive days, I like to run now for survival's sake. Take a good look at the tsunami washing ashore in Thailand back in December 2005 and tell me those people running for their lives weren't thinking about past opportunities for improving their speed.

If there ever is an encounter with a bear or mountain lion, I don't have to outrun the bear or mountain lion, I just have to outrun whoever is with me at the time. BTW, Never hike alone. Really appreciate the tongue-in-cheek articles, now for another slice of pizza and a can of Budweiser. After this, it's Season One of something...

Monica said (September 27, 2012):

Ah! I see you have finally arrived at the wisdom of Horace Rumpole (barrister, creation of author John Mortimer) who said, "I always believed exercise to the the shortest route to the cemetery!" My own opinion on the "active lifestyle" actually gives a cursory nod to those pathetically misguided proponents of evolution. I believe the only time our cave ancestors worked up a sweat was when they were running for their lives.

Amusingly, science is now proving (to their consternation) that aerobic exercise dramatically increases harmful free radical production and an unhealthy chemical cocktail in the brain, detrimental to relaxation (Like those produced from running for your life?) and inhibit the production of "healthy" brain chemicals. My maternal grandparents lived into their 90's in relatively good health and they didn't "get a sweat on" every week! They loved gardening, walking and the occasional game of bowling or golf. Sounds like a good proven plan to me! Thanks for the slightly macabre humor!

Jiuli said (September 27, 2012):

Have you considered the health consequences of doing no exercise at all? But seriously everything in moderation. Most of these cases you mentioned did not take that extra time for safety or were too stubborn for their own good. You're missing out on lot if your stuck in the virtual world on a computer!

Forget jogging, but there's a lot great places you can visit just walking or in a car although they're dangerous too. There's nothing like breathing in good fresh country air. When I walk in nature I can lose myself in the vastness or creation. I can see how great God and how stupid some of the things us humans do like playing games or being stuck in one's problems. There's so much more out there. And somehow feeling small in it all is a great feeling.


Thanks Juili

I try to walk 45 mins every day.


David said (September 27, 2012):

Henry, I did something on impulse very similar to these doomed daredevils a few years ago. I did a running jump over a gap between two outcroppings at Thunder Hole in Acadia National Park. It seemed like such a short distance, but when I landed on the uneven surface I pitched forward and lay sprawled on the edge of an approx. 20 foot drop, which doesn't sound like much, but I would have landed head first on solid rock below and likely been killed instantly, if not paralyzed for the remainder of my foolhardy life! All in full horrified view of my wife and child. And I was not in near as good shape as (and much older than) these young reeds you write about. All I can think is God sent me a wake-up call as I lay inches from what would have been a very messy death.

Michele said (September 27, 2012):

have to agree with you; Ever since Jim Fixx, the father of jogging, who died at the age of 52, I have been convinced that less is best. But I admire your recklessness at dog-walking. My own canines weigh in at 75 kilos each and the female can be headstrong and looks for trouble, so no dog-walking for me unless I want to be nose-down on a pavement.

With my last ex who was a jogger and got me to try it I managed to do myself no end of physical harm, high impact sports are not advisable for computer jockeys like myself. I'd much rather be watching a film, and stabbing fabric with an embroidery needle.

Marcos said (September 27, 2012):

My favorite verse in the Bible:

8 For bodily exercise profiteth little : but godliness is profitable unto all things, havingpromise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come .(1 Tim 4)

My friends in their midlife crisis, instead of buying red convertibles, now are all running marathons !

Seriously, people need objectives, in a spiritually dead age, with no kids around, these active sports fill this void.

Trevor said (September 27, 2012):

Not only is it dangerous in the ways your article pointed out, it is actually bad for your health to be constantly trying to work up a sweat. Exercise that is rigorous wears on the body and the act of sweating can be proven to be deadly. Sweat is made up of the bodies mineral and vitamin supplies. Most people are unaware of this but a vitamin or a mineral deficiency is the root cause of nearly all disease that afflicts man today. Most diseases are solved by simply vitamin and mineral supplementation. When these people go to the health clubs to get "fit" they are sweating their livelihood away and they have absolutely no chance to lose weight with the dietary advice they have been force fed by our public school system.

One could spend endless hours on this website learning about diet. I dont believe it to be and end all authority on everything but the majority of the research is extremely helpful, and his direct words saved me from the propaganda we see so much of today.

"Top Ten Myths about exercise"

Bill from N California said (September 26, 2012):

Hi Henry, I must agree.

In my youth I took some chances. But now I am safely "elderly" and retired. (Except for the few days I work at the local hardware store).

At 62 I am not adventurous anymore at all. So I've avoided the tragedy of dying young. Back when I turned 50, one of my older brothers said that I would not have to worry about that anymore. I found no comfort in his words.

At my age I'm allergic to high places, high speed and high anxiety. Thus I've grown very fond of my recliner, laptop and scotch.

For exercise I putter around the house and yard. And occasionally I walk around my neighborhood here in the foothills. But I've heard that sometimes there are bears in the area, as well as the occasional attack rooster. So I must be ever vigilant.

My mom lived to 97 and my dad to 92. So I will press on; however so carefully.

Brian said (September 26, 2012):

This summer I swam in the Ocean for the first time in years. Very enjoyable and no sharks around that I could see. Manageable waves that I would ride gently toward the shore, no crazy hangin' ten on Waikiki. And it's interesting that you posted this article today.

Last night I had one of those all too rare dreams like when you're flying, only in this one I was zooming down a steep, icy hill with no skis on my feet. In these kinds of dreams I always remember that one part of my brain thinks, hey, this is pretty dangerous. Then the part that says it's only a dream prevails, and it's off I go on what is quite a thrilling and exhilarating experience.

Now THIS is what I call my kind of active living!

Al Thompson said (September 26, 2012):

I'm with you Henry, active living and I'll double-down and include exercise into the mix are way too overrated. I never met an exercise that I wanted to do. I do what I have to do. I do get out of my office chair to go to the frig, when I could have just as well wheeled myself over to it and never leave the chair. I went to the doctor last week, paid $107.00 to have my doctor tell me I need to exercise more. I could have had someone tell me that for free. My idea of exercise is to reach for a beer, which is far more enjoyable, and it relieves my stress from having to walk over to the frig. People who exercise are absolutely crazy. They run, jump, do the Zumba, do hot yoga, and generally make asses out of themselves, while I sit back and have a brewski; enjoying the day. Who's smarter? I'm 66 years old with a one pack; there's no need for a 6 pack as I'm not chasing women anymore. I get enough exercise walking my dogs. I watch my big dog run; that exercise enough. I don't want to hurt myself because I don't like pain so I am careful about what I do. In my later years, I've turned clumsy and managed to fall down barely missing my little Yorkie. She looked at me like I was a big jerk. Wouldn't talk to me the rest of the day.

Exercise is for those people who just don't have anything else to contribute to society. People who exercise usually tell those of us who don't that we are lazy slugs. How much money did you make by playing around exercising? I knew of a man who was an accountant who was slim, trim, and ran 5 plus miles a day. He had it made, beautiful wife, lovely children, and he managed to give himself a heart attack running. He was only 35.

Henry Makow received his Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of Toronto in 1982. He welcomes your comments at