Who needs exercise?

I’m not going to tell you that exercise is good for you or its essential to living healthy, because you already know that. In fact, I’m telling you that exercise may not be as essential.

The human body evolved hundreds of thousands of years ago. From being hunters, gatherers, farmers, human had to do most of their work themselves. So, human bodies were made to do physical activity.

We’re lucky that not all of us need to hunt or gather or farm food today, but our bodies still need physical activity. With the evolution of our lifestyles, we spend most of the day sitting. And plenty of research is showing that just the act of sitting maybe making you gain weight, even if you’re working out regularly.

All this is just pointing to the fact that its not exercise that is essential, but physical activity. In fact research is showing that even if you’ve exercised for your scheduled 45 minutes in the gym, it’s important to be active through the day, else you might be negate the effects of it.

Several studies are pointing in this direction. If you consider a group of healthy people who regularly exercise, those who sit the most during the rest of the day have larger waists and worse profiles of blood pressure and blood sugar than those who sit less.

The first is that sitting is one of the lowest calorie burning activities that you can do. Compared to this, standing is hard work. To stand, you have to tense your leg muscles, and engage the muscles of your core, back and shoulders- all of this burns calories.

Beyond the calorie burning, standing up (rather engaging your leg muscles) helps your body releases a molecule called lipoprotein lipase, which plays a key role in helping your body process fats. Sitting for long periods of time might be associated with low levels of this. The implication is that when you sit for long periods, your metabolism may be slowing down. In fact, actively contracting muscles produce a whole range of substances that have a beneficial effect on how the body uses and stores sugars and fats.

I personally know people who barely exercise, are generally active through the day, eat well and manage their weight extremely well. And people say ‘it must be a fast metabolism’ .. considering all the information here, that must be true!

To address the ‘sitting problem’ in their offices, some people have radical solutions, like setting up their desks on treadmills, so they walk while they work. Or have standing desks. I’ve even heard of ‘walking meetings’, but not all of us have manicured lawns in the office, or colleagues/customers who would put up with such peculiar behavior.

Realistically, there could be 2 suggestions:

1. Using a swiss ball instead of a chair. I’ve tried this, and it really makes you work your core. I’m seriously considering bringing my swiss ball back to work! If you try it, make sure you get the right size swiss ball, to match your desk height.

2. Instead of emailing your colleague down the hall, walk over and talk to them. I’m doing this more now.

As I said, I’m not telling you exercise is essential. That it may be, if you’re not getting enough physical activity, Either way, be more active