Move it or lose it

Updated 1.25.2021: This piece was published originally in 2019. My opinions since then have not changed, but a new webpage has been brought to me attention. After visiting it and reading it, I decided to republish this piece (and reformat it, which was kind of a pain) to point to the this new page.

The information on the site is comprehensive, and explains the pluses and minuses of different movement options very well— while still noting the importance of healthy eating. Well worth a visit if you're looking to decide what type of movement to add to your routine.

The original, reformatted and mildly edited text is below:
Published 5.25.2019: Don't believe the internet clowns (including those with MDs after their names) who downplay the importance of movement for health and weight loss. Movement doesn't have to mean "killing it" in the gym. It just means getting up off your duff (if you are physically able to do so).

The Vox author is careful (far more careful than doctors Freedhoff or Malhotra) to state that exercise is VERY important to health. But you can’t outrun (out move) your fork. That’s why it’s eat less and move more. To lose weight, you have to work with your energy balance equation. The energy out portion is complicated, and movement isn’t the largest portion of it, your metabolism (which you don’t really control) is the largest portion of it. The energy balance isn’t linear.

However, that doesn’t mean that movement plays no role. The article states that movement is 10-30% of the energy out. That’s a large range to be sure, but I’m betting most people land in the center at 20%. Eating and drinking are 100% of the energy in. Eat less, and you will weigh less.

The constrained energy out thing misstates what non-exercise activity thermogenesis (NEAT) is (imnsho). NEAT in that case is everything not measured— if you can measure it, it’s not NEAT.

In other news, sitting for prolonged periods of time is unhealthy. Unfortunately, the accelerometers used in the study couldn’t tell the difference between standing and sitting, but the reality is that people who are standing tend to move around, and the accelerometers could perceive that.

Exercise is again shown to not offset the damage of sitting all day. However, nor is the idea that you need to stand all day supported. In between sitting all day and standing all day, there is a canyon of opportunity to make small changes to increase your health. People in the Blue Zones (the regions with the most centenarians) neither sit all day or stand all day.

The suggestion to get up and move a bit every 30 minutes isn’t new, however, this is more data showing the association between sitting on your bum all day and mortality.

If you choose not to get up and move, you may lose the ability to do so. I watched my father do this. He retired and decided that he’d moved enough in his life. Yes, he was sick and that didn’t help, but he didn’t help himself by sitting down.
From the article:

"The results: Those who watched five or more hours of TV per day had a 65 percent greater risk of reporting a mobility disability at the study's end, compared with those who watched less than two hours per day. DiPietro says this association was independent of their level of total physical activity and other factors known to affect the ability to easily move around."
It's not enough to exercise after a day of sitting on your duff. You need to move during the day as well.

From the article:
"Sitting more than half the day, regardless of how much exercise people got otherwise, was associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality in a large prospective study of middle-aged and older adults in the U.S.

Those spending more than 12.5 hours of sedentary time per day with bout duration of more than 10 minutes had the highest risk for all-cause mortality (HR 2.00; 95% CI 1.45-2.75; P<0.001), said researchers led by Keith M. Diaz, PhD, of Columbia University Medical Center in New York City.

Writing in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the group also that total sedentary time, more than the average duration of individual bouts of sedentary time. Over about 4 years of follow-up, individuals with low total sedentary time showed about the same mortality rates whether bout duration was classified as low (<10 minutes on average) or high (>10 minutes)."

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