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There is something that appears as a contradiction to a newbie like me.

  1. Sport is widely recognized as healthy and recommended by medical experts.

  2. Metabolic rate is inversely correlated with lifespan.

To me, it makes sense that the more energy passes through your system, the more it gets damaged.

Sport goes against this desirable frugality, as it makes you consume more energy, which requires increasing your energy input to compensate (you eat more food). Also, growing a greater muscular mass increases the amount of energy needed for moving, for maintaining body temperature at rest; having more cells mean larger amounts of oxygen are needed, more DNA-copying errors are made, more free radicals are produced, etc.

At the same time, I've heard that sport is good because it lowers heartbeat at rest, it makes special immune-system agents enter cells more effectively, and other things...

I'm obviously missing something, but I'm just having a hard time understanding how something that increases the entropy of your system can be beneficial for your health in the long run.

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    $\begingroup$ I think you're drawing extremely broad and simplistic strokes to draw conclusion number 2 and ignoring certain implications by the reasoning in your largest paragraph For example, large animals have to produce more cells to get to the size they are yet tend to have longer lifespans. Also, your use of the term entropy seems to be a misapplication of the term. The reasoning 'To me, it makes sense that the more energy passes through your system, the more it gets damaged" is also incomplete because it ignores how if too little energy passes through your system, you promptly die. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Aug 8, 2023 at 19:58
  • $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen Although it is also worth pointing out that larger animals generally have specific anti-cancer adaptations that help them in that regard. By comparison, you can't just blow up a regular animal, and expect it to fare quite as well. Larger dogs are at greater risk of cancer compared to smaller ones, for example. $\endgroup$
    – techno156
    Aug 9, 2023 at 7:05

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having more cells mean larger amounts of oxygen are needed

Two things here. First is that that a large muscle usually comes from the individual cells becoming larger, not so much that there are more of them.

Second, is that exercise means that your body uses the oxygen more efficiently if it's fit (it's unclear whether this refers to it having a higher concentration of oxygen, or whether it is due to changes in metabolic processes).

more DNA-copying errors are made, more free radicals are produced, etc.

Although it's worth pointing that these happen anyway. Exercise doesn't really change much on that front, unless there's an injury.

Your body has protective mechanisms against these forms of damage, since they happen as part of regular metabolism. They don't just gradually accumulate throughout your lifetime.

I'm obviously missing something, but I'm just having a hard time understanding how something that increases the entropy of your system can be beneficial for your health in the long run.

It helps stave off other health conditions that would take you out first.

System entropy increasing isn't really that big of an issue anyway, since humans aren't a closed system. A warm bath also increases entropy (from heat), but certainly doesn't cause health issues, and hypothermia tends to be quite bad for you, even if it does the opposite.

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