One Minute Abs and More

Over the past two years, I’ve devoted a fair amount of attention to Peter Singer’s claim that â€œif it is in our power to prevent something bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything of comparable moral importance, we ought, morally, to do it.” Building on Singer’s altruistic/consequentialist arguments, I’ve attempted to show that altruists have reason to value physical fitness. Now a recent study (abstract and New York Times summary) shows that one minute of intense exercise (included within a total workout of ten minutes) improves peak oxygen uptake (VO2 max), reduces blood pressure and lowers blood glucose levels. Improving VO2 max improves your fitness age, which increases life expectancy, while reducing blood pressure and glucose levels decreases the risk of disease. So even one minute of regular exercise will help you live longer and have more opportunities for altruism. The Journal of Labor Research has equated at least three hours of exercise per week with a 9% increase in earnings. If any of that salary bump is due to improved physical fitness and reduced risk of disease rather than time spent in the gym, we should expect an increase in earnings from ten-minute workouts as well. And following the altruistic argument, those extra earnings provide greater opportunity for charitable donations. Returning to Peter Singer’s assertion, it is now possible for those who find exercise a burden to make a greater altruistic impact with a smaller sacrifice for fitness.

One Minute Abs and More