Two Lives, One Lifestyle

What Does Exercise Do For You? by Katie
April 22, 2010, 11:24 pm
Filed under: Katie, Workout

Exercise- we know we should do it and we know that it’s good to keep changing it up to challenge our bodies.  But the whole “how much?, how often?, what will give me the best results with the least amount of effort?, is it worth it?” can be more confusing than a new relationship (hm many of those questions can apply to both I suppose).

Then studies come out telling me that I’m going to need to do an hour a day to keep my weight in check or that it doesn’t even matter how much exercise you do, it’s all about what you eat.   Might as well just throw in the sweaty gym towel!  Though I think exercise HAS helped me maintain the same-ish weight since high school (give or take my freshman year of college) , I’m in it for the sanity part as well.  I don’t need a study to tell me that exercise keeps my brain chemicals all balanced.

Well guess what? There are some more studies, and they are saying that maybe exercise doesn’t exactly help weight loss per se, but that it is important for weight maintenance.   Oh and is there any shock in the fact that they think exercise affects men and women differently?  John’s abs show after 3 weeks of doing ab work… I could try for 3 years and not see anything! Not fair.

Here is what stood out from this NYTimes article and the studies it cited:

  • Our bodies are stubborn.  When we burn some cals, the body compensates by making us more hungry with all sorts of hormones (not the women-only kinds of hormones).
  • But wait, this hormone change is way more significant in women.  Can’t we catch a break on some kind of hormone?!
  • In a huge study of 34,000 middle-aged women, some gained, some lost, but those who maintained had something in common- they exercised for about 60 minutes everyday
  • Before you get overwhelmed about that 60 minutes, that was ANY kind of exercise- even walking
  • One more caveat- they exercised consistently throughout the years.   So although this study was tracking middle-aged (average 54 years) women, it’s important to exercise all through your life

So there is the question of why this happens…

  • Now from the cool newer study:  Some rats were fattened up, then given a low-cal diet to lose the weight.  Some rats had to exercise (they run on little rat treadmills!) and others were sedentary as they went back to their old ways of eating.  But they noticed something- the exercising rats metabolized the calories differently than before.
  • The rats that ran would burn fat after eating while the couch potato rats would burn carbs first and store the fat. Plus they just plain ate a little less. Their bodies adjusted to that new weight.

Okay, so we aren’t rats, but they can provide reasonable insight to the human body.  Especially since some of the same hormones are at work here.  The article ends by talking about all those hormones that control our appetite- well just standing up more can keep them in check.  Just standing or walking can make a difference.   Think about it- as obesity has increased, how many more people sit at a computer all day (well and a whole bunch of other factors)?  You don’t even need to walk over to another desk- just send an email.

So tomorrow at work, try it out:

  • Stand up when you’re having a conversation with someone
  • Take a walk at lunch, even if it’s around the building
  • Drink more water so you have to walk to the bathroom
  • Stand while reading a long document
  • Get outside and wander around (or jump around)

What are some other ways you keep moving during the day if you have a desk job?