One Mom in the Middle…
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Exercise IS important

Published 10.25.2016
I've ranted her a few times about medical professionals who downplay the importance of movement in weight loss and maintenance. Of course, these individuals use the term exercise, but I am deliberately using the term movement instead because while I'm not convinced that organized, structured movement (aka exercise) is required for weight loss and successful maintenance, I think overall movement is. What do I mean by movement? Mostly, I mean not being sedentary, in other words, not sitting on your duff for the majority of the day.

There's a reason I bang on here every so often about my standing desk— the phrase standing desk includes treadmill desks and stationary standing desks — I remain convinced that non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is a critical variable in altering the energy balance. Unless you're training for some sporting event, most people don't exercise more than an hour or so a day.

I noted in June that a friend dragged my a gyn with her and we both wound up signing up. I've made going part of my routine, she has not. I go five days a week at this point for at least an 60-75 minutes (depending on whether I do weights or not) each of those days. However, that leaves roughly 16 remaining waking hours. If I sit for most of those hours, I will mostly negate the benefit of going to the gym. If instead I stand (as I am now or pedal, though again, I recognize that few will ever have access to a bike desk), then even though the movement doesn't expend much energy, it does expend more than sitting. In addition, others have made this point as well, once standing, I tend to move around more.


All of which is a overly verbose way of saying that this is likely the first in what will be occasional posts noting evidence that movement is important— for health and weight loss and weight maintenance. Before I go on however, I want to note that I realize there are some people for whom my choices will not work. I say, "Stand up!" and talk about being on my feet all day because I am able to do so without pain. I know that not everybody can do so. Just for completeness I'll note that I couldn't stand all day when I first started, it took about six months before I was able to do it. For me, it was worth making the effort. I recognize that not everyone will share that view.

Movement IS important


  • A doctor who gets it right— excercise is important for weight loss!

    In my opinion, it is important not to degrade the role of exercise for individuals with overweight and obesity. Although some experts have disputed the role of exercise in weight management, the recently published paper by Weiss and coworkers clearly demonstrates that weight loss can be achieved by exercise alone. Furthermore, exercise led to similar reductions in CVD risk factors as caloric restriction.

    Plus he calls out Taubes and Malhotra for their anti-exercise pablum. If you want to alter the energy balance (and you do if your call is weight loss) then you ought to focus on all the terms that can be controlled. That is to say: what you eat and how you move.
  • Taubes is wrong about exercise with his claim that exercise just, "makes you hungry." Whether or not someone eats too much after exercise is individual. Not everyone does it. I do think you have to avoid the “reward yourself” mindset that is, frankly, promoted in gyms (such as the one I joined in June) that have what a amounts to a mini food bar near the front door selling protein bars and smoothies. Just as kids ought to be able to go through dance or baseball practice for an hour or so Without needing 300-500 calories in food, so should a healthy adult. There is simply no reason to work out for an hour and they replenish (plus!) those expended calories.
  • Moderate physical activity lowers risk of type 2 diabetes(T2D). Any amount of movement seems to help. There is no need to “kill it” in the gym unless you want to do so. Walking works too.

    Individuals who achieved 150 min/week of moderate activity, or 11.25 metabolic equivalent of task (MET) hours/week – the minimum amount recommended by most public health guidelines – reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 26% (95% CI 20%-31%) compared with inactive individuals, Andrea Smith, MPhil, University of Cambridge, England, and colleagues reported online in Diabetologia.

  • Aerobic exercise may mitigate cognitive impairment— but only as long as you keep moving. The effects don’t last for the long term. Use it of lose it.

    in a proof-of-concept study, patients with mild vascular cognitive impairment who had 3 hour-long sessions of aerobic exercise training weekly for 6 months had a greater improvement in cognition than those randomized to usual care (-1.71 point difference on the ADAS-Cog, P=0.02), Teresa Liu-Ambrose, PT, PhD, of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, and colleagues reported online in Neurology.

    One way it might work is by lowering blood pressure. They aren’t clear exactly how blood pressure relates to cognition, but there is a correlation. High blood pressure means more cognitive decline. Criticism of the study includes the fact that it was of short duration.
  • Movement affects stress hormones.

    In the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the Pittsburgh neuroscientists showed that they have discovered a discrete, elaborate network in the cerebral cortex that controls the adrenal medulla. It seems that the connections between the brain and the adrenal medulla are much more elaborate than previously understood. Complex networks throughout the primary sensory and motor cortices are tied directly to our stress responses.

    I can’t believe this hasn’t been mentioned in any of my classes at the gym.
  • Exercise and movement helps fatty liver sufferers, and moderate movement (walking will do) was as effective as more rigorous exercise.
  • It could as simple as, "Just stand up." Sitting for long durations is particularly harmful. NEAT for the win!

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