If spending even a half-hour at the gym after a long day just sounds too unbearable, you may be in luck. Exercising may not be the golden ticket to staying slim after all.
We all know that one person who just never seems to gain much weight, regardless of what they eat or physical activity. Some credit genetics, but Dr. James Levine, a researcher at the Mayo Clinic, wanted to better understand why some people never struggle with obesity even though they consume the same amount of calories as those who do gain weight.
Dr. Levine is a leader of an emerging field referred to as inactivity studies, which seeks to better understand and challenge accepted beliefs about health and obesity. He recently closely monitored subjects that consumed all of their food in a lab for two months and were not allowed to exercise. After observing that some subjects gained weight while others did not, the researchers introduced motion tracking shorts which carefully sensed movements twice a second, 24 hours a day. They discovered that some people inherently move their muscles more, which burns calories.
“The people who didn’t gain weight were unconsciously moving around more,” says Dr. Jensen, a collaborator in the study. Although no one was exercising, their bodies naturally counteracted by making more minor movements than they had before, whether it was standing, walking, or simply fidgeting. The doctors called this NEAT, which stands for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Participants who gained weight sat an average of two hours more per day than those whose weight remained stable.
When you sit for hours at a time, electrical activity in your muscles drop, causing an array of harmful metabolic effects . The rate at which you burn calories drops to about one per minute. The effect of insulin reduces within a single day, and the enzymes responsible for breaking down different fats are reduced, which decreases levels of good cholesterol (HDL). The men and women in the study both had an overall higher death rate, and another study showed that 14 healthy and thin volunteers experienced a 40 percent reduction in insulin’s ability to uptake glucose after 24 hours of sitting.
So how do we combat a sedentary lifestyle? Simply moving a little more throughout the entire day, whether it be standing up to stretch or walking over to a colleague’s desk may really add up to as much exercise as an hour on the treadmill. To promote a healthy metabolism, make healthy adjustments to your diet, incorporate mild exercise into your day, and take researched herbal extracts shown to support healthy insulin levels. Natural solutions already exist for balancing insulin and metabolic behavior, so you can fight the harmful effects of Metabolic Syndrome before they lead to more serious problems.
By Dr. Isaac Eliaz M.D., L.Ac., M.S.
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