We all see people running for an hour then eating ice cream thinking they still came out ahead of the game. But are they?
In Gut Balance Revolution I talk about the calorie myth and how counting calories leads to frustration and failure for many.
Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, dementia and some cancers by at least 30%. However, physical activity itself does not promote weight loss according to British cardiologists. According to the Lancet the global burden of disease reports shows that poor diet now generates more disease than physical inactivity, alcohol and smoking combined. Up to 40% of those with a normal body mass index harbor metabolic abnormalities typically associated with obesity. In cases like these, health may only be skin deep.
The simple fact is this: our Western diet is the root cause for the doubling of obesity worldwide since 1980, and our toxic food supply is decaying our gut microbiome from thriving gardens into cesspools.
There are abundant data showing that we are becoming more sedentary. Our children are held hostage by television and video gaming. This inactivity has in part created our culture of chronic health conditions. 45% of American adults have at least 1 disease and 2/3 are overweight or obese.
The numbers are only likely to grow as 86 million are now prediabetic.
What’s the Solution?
Exercise to your heart’s desire? Wait a minute. A Danish study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology compared data between 1,000 joggers to 1,000 non-joggers over a 12-year period. The study investigators observed that those who engaged in the most strenuous exercise had outcomes equalling sedentary individuals. Preposterous! But it’s true. Putting on your sneakers and going all out could be as bad for your heart as keeping your sneakers in the closet.
There was a sweet spot for optimal exercise and risk of cardiovascular disease: 30 minutes of a light jog or brisk walking 5 times a week equaling 150 minutes.
But there are other data showing how exercising 30 minutes a day for 5 days a week prevents not only diabetes, cardiovascular disease but also Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and so much more.
And there are emerging data showing that short bursts of high-intensity exercise (aka interval training) is even better for controlling diabetes and even fat-burning.
So what’s the truth? Where is the sweet spot for exercise?
First, you should be aware that many people who over rely on running 10 miles at a clip or 90 minutes on a treadmill are not only burning fat but melting their muscle while increasing their appetite. This is not a desirable outcome.
Instead, use your time wisely. Try light weights to build lean muscle and consider brisk walking and interval training to boost your fat-burning metabolism. In The Gut Balance Revolution, I integrate a program of gradual and graded exercise starting with walking and light weights which escalates to interval training, weights, yoga and much more for variety and sustainability.
You also need to realize that exercise does not mitigate a bad diet, nor does a great diet justify being sedentary. A diet rich in foods that cultivate a biodiverse gut microbiome to promote a lean metabolism is essential. But being active and fit further optimizes thermogenesis, fights inflammation, and prevents chronic disease. There is too much data showing how a sedentary lifestyle itself is rick factor for chronic disease. So don’t give up on exercise, just optimize it.
Finally, as we strive for the Holy Grail or magic bullet to live longer and healthier lives, keep one thing in mind: The genes that we inherit are regulated by a number of factors whose common denominator is lifestyle. Stress, relaxation, diet, exercise, smoking, environmental chemicals, and more influence health outcomes by modulating genetic expression. Which is great news!
What are your thoughts?
To your good health,
Dr. Gerry Mullin