“To my generation, technology is second nature, while yours fumbles through it. Makes you kinda jealous, eh?
These were the words a Cartoon character, Curtis told his dad in one of the episodes.
In return Curtis’ dad brought out his yo-yo and performed some amazing tricks on it. Curtis retorted by telling his dad that the tricks he performed on his yo-yo a short while earlier were “child’s play”.
Curtis’ dad then handed the yo-yo to Curtis to see if he could replicate the yo-yo tricks seeing as he felt they were easy peasy.
Curtis began playing with the yo-yo but got increasingly frustrated. He could neither duplicate none of the tricks his father pulled off earlier nor get the yo-yo to swing up and down harmoniously.
Curtis’ father got some satisfaction from watching his son’s frustration and lack of patience.
It’s obvious there are generational differences. What one generation might be very sleek at, another may find it challenging.
Obesity generational differences
In historical terms, obesity as a phenomenon has undergone such generational transformation. Obesity has become increasingly worse in this generation than it was generations earlier.
Just have a look at those black and white photographs from the 19th and the first half of the 20th century. You will notice something stark. You may have missed it. But I should remind you to pay attention next time you look at those black and white photographs.
What you will find is that; our great great gandparents were noticeably thinner compared to images on photographs today. Obesity rates were in the region of 2% in the time period I’m talking about.
What is the explanation for the obesity generational differences?
I believe the difference lies in what is now being described as NEAT.
What does NEAT energy expenditure mean?
NEAT refers to Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis. Long name, I know.
But its meaning can transform the way you look at obesity and it’s associated problems.
Losing fat doesn’t have to mean doing a lot outside of your routine physical activities.
Still wondering what Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis actually means?
Well, it’s any physical activity that you do in your everyday existence that is not deemed as voluntary workout.
So, as I type this article now, I am engaging in a NEAT energy expenditure. So is cooking, gardening, mowing the lawn, picking up the remote control, cleaning the house, vacuum cleaning the floor…
…mopping your kitchen floor, driving, walking around the mall shopping, climbing the stairs in your house or the office, talking to your boss, husband, wife, kids, scratching your head, running after the toddler, scrubbing your feet…you get the drift.
Any movement that you make that is outside of a regular work out is deemed as NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis).
Why is NEAT important?
These activities may look insignificant or minor at first glance, but they all add up over the course of the day and it is the cumulative effect of all of these activities that constitute Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
And the Thermogenesis refers to the calories we burn by virtue of these activities.
James A. Levine, MD, PhD, of the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes, Metabolism, and Nutrition at Mayo Clinic Rochester, has been studying the concept of NEAT.
James is of the view that NEAT or the lack of it; is a huge contributor to the obesity epidemic in the US and does not think the blame lies squarely on the doorsteps of increased calorie intake only.
Dr Levine explains:
“Exercise is defined as ‘bodily exertion for the sake of developing and maintaining physical fitness,’ for example, participating in a sport or visiting the gym. The vast majority of the world’s population do not participate in exercise, as so defined, and for them, exercise activity thermogenesis is zero.
Even for the minority of people who do exercise, for most of them, exercise accounts for an energy expenditure of 100 calories per day. Thus, NEAT explains why an active person can expend 2,000 calories per day more than an inactive person of the same size.
NEAT is the energy expenditure of all physical activities other than volitional sport-ing-like exercise. NEAT includes all those activities that render us vibrant, unique, and independent beings.”
How do you burn calories everyday?
Perhaps this will be a good time to talk about how we burn calories daily as we lead our lives.
Energy expenditure (how we burn calories) is accounted for by 3 mechanisms:
Basal metabolic rate – 60%
Thermic effect of food – 10%
Activity Thermogenesis – 30%
Now let’s talk about all of the 3 ways we burn calories everyday.
Basal metabolic rate
What is basal metabolic rate? Basal metabolic rate is energy spent by basically being alive. If you are wondering how you burn calories doing absolutely nothing, well this how.
Your basal metabolic rate accounts for how you burn calories when we are sleeping. Yes, even we are asleep doing nothing at all, the metabolic processes going on in your body do use up energy to keep you alive.
When you are awake and doing nothing, you still burn calories through activities breathing, blinking your eyelids, talking, your heart beating etc. Involuntary activities that have to happen to keep us alive like your breating and heart beating use up energy whether we like it or not.
Energy expenditure from these involuntary activities and bodily functions constitute basal metabolic rate.
Thermic effect of food
Thermic effect of food is the energy used up by the process of food consumption to energy conversion i.e eating, digestion and food metabolism. It is a small fraction of energy expenditure and equates to only about 10%.
Activity thermogenesis makes up the rest of the energy expenditure. Activity thermogenesis constitutes 30% of the calories we burn everyday.
Activity thermogenesis is split up in 2 – Exercise and Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis.
Exercise activity thermogenesis is energy expenditure that occurs from voluntary aerobic and non-aerobic exercise undertaken by an individual.
Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis (NEAT) which is what we are discussing right here.
Non-Exercise Activity thermogenesis can be sub-divided into Occupational activity thermogenesis and Leisure activity thermogenesis.
Occupational activity thermogenesis (Occupational NEAT) is made up of all exercise activity related to what you do for a living. Exercise activity related to your job.
A post-man will have a higher occupational activity thermogenesis than an office worker who sits in front of a computer all day.
Same goes for someone who does agricultural work. Working in the fields ploughing, planting, harvesting will burn a lot more calories compared to the bank counter clerk.
Table below adapted from this study and published by the Mayo Clinic gives some idea of how NEAT from occupational activity may differ significantly between types of jobs.
Leisure activity thermogenesis (Leisure NEAT) is the energy you burn doing regular stuff in and around the house.
Without being offensive (people get offended easily these days, don’t they), I would hazard a guess that women will have a higher leisure activity thermogenesis than men in and around the house. Of course this wouldn’t be true across the board, I should add.
James Levine from his research believes that NEAT may vary as much as 2000 Calories per day between individuals. Lots of short little movements is what constitutes your NEAT (non exeercise activity thermogenesis).
Overweight people tend to have low NEAT and their slimmer cousins tend to have high NEAT (within reason).
Our great great grandparents definitely had very high NEAT(non exercise activity thermogenesis) compared to our current level of NEAT today.
Obesity is not a problem confined to the West as most people think. The nations of the Eastern hemisphere are having their own little battle of obesity.
China is having its own little crisis with obesity and an alarming increase in the rate of heart disease compared to the earlier periods of the 20th century.
Urbanisation and industrialisation are huge contributory factors. Availability of foods rich in processed foods complicated by a wave of sedentary lifestyle, both in the workplace and at home.
I talked about generational differences earlier on in this article. I strongly believe this is a factor in the obesity epidemic the world over.
We have become too sedentary in our lifestyles. Gone are the days when walking, for instance, was actually a necessity because there weren’t many cars as we have today.
Obesity is a serious problem in America. But the rates of obesity is proportionately worse amongst American Indians such that obesity prevention programs are now being targeted at children to save their future. Nice strategy!
“Over 80% of American Indian and Alaska Native adults are overweight or obese; about half of American Indian children are at an unhealthy weight; and it’s estimated 30% of American Indians and Alaska Natives have pre-diabetes. Compare those statistics to American adults in general, two-thirds of whom are overweight or obese, and 27% of whom are estimated to have pre-diabetes”
This is the same American Indians who had an obesity rate that was less than 2% when they were doing their thing before colonisation took place.
They farmed. They hunted. They made tools. They cooked. They made their own shelters. They even participated in warfare (not encouraged by this article).
The American Indians developed their own sports, the Native American Stickball, apparently not too dissimilar to Lacrosse. They were ingenious enough to use their developed games to settle scores between communities as a substitute to going to war.
Their agricultural practices were very basic. Totally unmechanised farming that required physical labour. The American Indian woman grew her own food whilst the men went hunting and fishing.
When it was time for harvest, they knew they will get abundance of berries, roots, fruits, mushrooms, nuts, and eggs.
They ate when food was available and did without when there was scarcity.
But in all of these, you will notice a consistent trend – a very high NEAT.
Having a high NEAT helps you keep energy balance negative. Weight increase is more likely when energy balance is in the positive realm.
What we can learn from the Amish Community.
The Old Order Amish community. The Amish shun modern conveniences. They probably see them as “evil”. Just like the American Indians used to do. Their farming methods remain labour-intensive.
The result – obesity rates amongst the Amish is still 4%. Even the Amish who have the obesity gene have managed to override it by just having a very high NEAT in their daily routines.
This study of the Old Order Amish showed Amish men complete an average of 18,425 steps a day and walked an average of 12-hour week whilst the women put in a shift of 14,196 daily steps with an average walking of 5.7 hours.
The average person in the Western hemisphere struggles to get in 4000 steps a day. Something surprising in that study is the Amish diet is not strictly healthy.
The Amish diet was neither low fat nor low carb.
More succinctly, the study stated “The Amish diet is typical of the pre-World War II rural diet. It includes meat, potatoes, gravy, eggs, vegetables, bread, pies, cakes, and is quite high in fat and refined sugar”
The men in the cohort had an obesity rate of 0%.
The Amish seem to be overriding their dietary indiscretions by ramping up their NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) and it is working. They have obesity rate that puts the rest of the developed world to shame.
The conclusion from the study being that the high NEAT levels is the reason the Amish community have a low rate of obesity.
There is no doubt that communities with high NEAT routines do better in terms of obesity and its related complications like type 2 diabetes, heart disease, strokes and cancer.
With this knowledge to hand, you have no excuse now not to improve what I would describe as your NEAT ratings.
Simply increasing your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) routines will do a lot for your waistline. All of it could stem from Leisure non exercise activity thermogenesis (leisure NEAT) routines as well as Occupational non exercise activity thermogenesis (Occupational NEAT) routines.
Of course, if you add some formal workout to your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) routines, then you will ramp up the negativity of your energy balance.
Remember, this is all about increasing your energy expenditure thereby tilting your energy balance into a calorie deficit daily. Doing that on a daily basis is a surefire way of burning fat…
…even if you do not undertake formal exercise work out.
Holding that thought, what can you do to increase your NEAT?
How to increase non exercise activity thermogenesis
Increasing non exercise activity thermogenesis is not rocket science. All you need is a little imagination and creativity.
The non exercise activity thermogenesis examples below will give you some ideas about how to increase or boost your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) without trying too hard or embarking on a diet.
Doing your gardening a lot more vigorously.
Become keen to undertake doing the household chores – washing, ironing, vacuum cleaning, mopping the floor, cleaning the bathrooms. You don’t need a paid domestic cleaner!
Get a lightweight kettlebell or dumb bell like a 3-lb one and do a low-level no-sweat workout whilst watching TV.
Use the stairs at work. The higher the floor your office is, the more you will get from this non exercise activity thermogenesis example.
Wash the car yourself manually instead of using the automatic car wash.
Walk to post your letters instead of driving there.
Walk to do light shopping where all your shopping will fit into one bag instead of driving.
Walk to work if your office is within 5-mile radius to your residence. Doing this will give you a return mileage of 10 miles every working day. How cool is that.
Walk to the hair salon for your hair cut or hair grooming and back.
If you use public transport to work, how about coming off at least a mile or two before your usual bus stop. Do the same on your way back home. Come off the bus early.
Use the rake to gather leaves in the garden in autumn instead of using the leaf blower.
Install tools on your PC or Mac like exertime which forces you to exit your computer after pre-set intervals and do some physical activity which must be logged before you can resume your previous task.
Have an office re-design with treadmill desks where the tasks undertaken allows for this. It doesn’t have to be on every desk. Workers can elect to use those treadmill desks in turns, but they are there for everyone to use when they so please.
When you consider the fact that NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis) routines are activities that you do in between workouts which could be days apart, revving them up supplements whatever else you are doing to maintain your weight.
This is not about dieting. This is about doing little non-formal exercise things better. Amplifying your NEAT may not sound like much, but cumulatively it adds up and complements any fat burning measures you already have on the map.
All it takes is a little imagination and motivation to keep going and doing more.
If you ramp up your NEAT (non exercise activity thermogenesis), maybe you never have to worry too much about what you eat any longer…just like the Amish.
Question: Why am I gaining weight despite working out, huh?
There are the ones who hate the gym and would make it clear they do. There are the ones who love the gym and would make you jealous about their passion.
Then there are the ones for whom the word ‘exercise’ is a foreign language. Exercise? Don’t know what you are talking about, bro…
A female colleague of mine (let’s call her, Shauna – not her real name) belongs to the gym-lover group.
Shauna would love it if her elbow-greasing efforts were making a dent to her waist line. But no such luck, sister.
So, I do not blame her for continuously complaining about her inability to lose any significant amount of weight despite her best efforts at exercise. If anything, she actually gains weight with exercise.Yes, Shauna actually gains weight every now and again. Somebody call 911.
No, her weight hasn’t gone up because she gained muscle, before you ask.
What a tragedy?
Bearing in mind that I have known her for over a decade now. Shauna has not been able to shift her weight sustainably since I’ve known her. She goes to a Fat Club once a week as part of her weight management strategy. Great idea.
I’m not entirely sure what goes on there in Fat Club, though. I haven’t bothered to quiz her about the training routine in the Fat Club but she does complain of muscle soreness after her Fat Club escapades. They must be sweating it out there.
What I do know is that the feedback I get from her can be likened to “one step forward, two steps backward”. That’s just the way, her nightmarish weight situation has been for the more than 10 years I’ve known her.
Shauna has done it all. Pilates, Yoga fitness, the treadmill, the elliptical trainer, spinning in all its forms, rowing, lifting heavy weights. Shauna has done it all, but she can’t seem to move the needle on her scale. Nightmare!
As for her diet, Shauna tells me she eats from the same pot as her husband. The husband who does next to nothing as far as physical activity is concerned, seems to maintain his weight somehow. Life can be unfair…
> That’s where Shauna’s frustration gets worse. She compares herself to her husband who is more or less a couch potato.
I do not think Shauna is alone as far as this paradox is concerned. I believe a lot of people who are very keen to shed some weight hit this brick wall. They find it difficult to understand why this is.
After all we have been told, moving more is one of the pillars that underscores weight shedding. Why isn’t it working for Shauna?
If we follow the law of thermodynamics in relation to nutrition, then Shauna would expect to lose weight. Shauna expends more energy than she consumes, right?
In practical terms, Shauna should expect to lose 1 pound of weight per week if she could execute expending 500 calories more than she consumes per day. Shauna is expending energy through sheer physical activity by hitting the gym and doing her workouts diligently.
So, why is she gaining weight despite respectable amount of exercise over a period of time?
History Up until the mid-20th century, exercise did not play any major role in weight management. It was just an assumption unsupported by science. So much so that some scientists were even suggesting bed rest as a solution to lose weight. Bizarre, I know.
However, Jean Mayer changed all that. Jean was a popular nutritionist. He did a lot of scientific work to bring to the fore much of what we now know as the relationship between physical activity and weight loss.
Jean experimented on rats and school children and the conclusion of much of his studies was that the more physically active you were, the less weight you carried around. His work gained so much popularity that Jean became an advisor to the World Health Organisation and the American government. Nice!
> Jean laid the foundation for the fitness industry as we know it today. Indeed, this multi-billion-dollar fitness industry should be grateful to Jean for his ground-breaking experiments.
But all is not what it seems at least not to everyone anyway. There are millions of Shaunas all over the world who find the returns from their exercise activity so minute as to be discounted.
It gets so frustrating that some people just give up altogether.
Why am I gaining weight despite working out and exercise?
A couple of reasons are responsible for this nightmare of a static weight or downright weight gain following gruelling hours at the gym. One can write a book on the reasons but we will touch on a few.
We all do it. You spend a couple of hours in the gym or the great outdoors, you feel good about yourself and why not. You have done what you consider to be a great work out and you feel that amount of work requires some reward, right?
So, off you go to the kitchen. You grab the nearest food available and gulp it all down without giving a second thought as to how much calories you have just wolfed down.
And it isn’t just carbs by the way. All 3 macronutrients can be incriminated in this fiasco – carbs, fat and protein. They all get broken down to calories and they all count when we overcompensate with our food rewards.
That cheese and biscuit you treated yourself with, those 3 protein bars, that chilled ice cream or brownie – they all add up. They don’t help your course in any way.
The gains of your 90-minute work out in the gym can be wiped out with something as flimsy as 2 cup cakes or 2 muffins that you eat afterwards post work out.
Got doubts? Well, watch your eating habits after work outs going forward and you will see this happening to you again and again.
It is very easily done by anyone who does regular exercise unless they are aware of this pitfall and make a conscious effort not to fall in it.
I am not a big fan of calorie counting. One reason being it can be a tedious exercise (no pun intended). Calorie counting is good up to a point. You should have a fair understanding of the type of foods you are eating and the calorie density of those foods.
For me that’s as good as calorie counting gets.
You don’t have to be a calorie nerd. The problem is that a lot of people see themselves as calorie geeks and carry that belief through and through. What they don’t know is that their calorie counts are wide off the mark by as much as 30%.
I am referring to their estimation of both calorie intake and calorie output.
For instance, I read somewhere that cleaning your house for 90 minutes or walking briskly for 60 minutes will burn off 695 calories. Really? You must be having a laugh!
You will be lucky to burn off 2 servings of cooked pasta (small shells – 4.1 oz) with that level of physical activity and 2 servings of the small shells cooked pasta provides you with 363 calories.
> There is a lot of overestimation of calorie output when it comes to exercise, just as it is very common to underestimate calories consumed. It works both ways.
Digital readings on your exercise machines aren’t that great either. If you thought the readings you saw on the treadmill are accurate, you will be in for a surprise.
Your elliptical trainer, your treadmill, your bike, all of these machines give calorie-burn readings that will excite you and make you feel good when you are done sweating. Hmm, don’t punch the air just yet to congratulate yourself. Take those readings with a pinch of salt.
It all depends on the algorithmic programming that has gone into the machine software. Accuracy is directly proportional to the expense on the machine but that does not mean the more expensive ones are 100% accurate. Far from it.
> I don’t want to sound conspiratorial but it is possible that the exercise machines have been programmed to overestimate calorie burn to make us feel good about how much work we have put in which in turn encourages us to do more exercise tomorrow and the next.
With all of that calorie misrepresentation going on, the energy gap (difference between calories consumed and calorie burned) widens in favour of energy storage.
Is it any surprise, Shauna can’t seem to make any gains losing weight despite her best efforts?
3. The Wrong Refreshments
It happens to all of us and indeed it is natural that after a sweaty affair in the gym that is, you will want some refreshment. After all, sweating means loss of salt and water from the body.
It is only natural to feel thirsty.
What do most people go for?
You guessed it – sweetened beverages which are conveniently sold in gyms stores or some other nearby sports shop.
It’s not your fault though. These foods are usually advertised as “healthy” after-work out snacks by food manufacturers. It’s very easy for the uninitiated to fall for these claims.
The problem is these sweetened beverages are loaded with calories, empty calories in fact. Consuming these sugar loaded beverages will certainly make you consume more calories than you have just burned. Not a smart move.
That smoothie beverage below has the same amount of sugar in it as you will find in 4 Tesco muffins (if Tesco’s sugar nutritional information is correct). You wouldn’t think that, would you?
Your safest bet is to make your own smoothies at home ready for use after your workout. Beyond that, drink fresh waterinfused with lemon. At least you know what you are getting. Little things like these matter a whole lot in terms of weight gain when you exercise.
This is related to the first point of generous self-reward. Energy output is directly proportional to energy intake in real terms unless you intervene with will power.
It is expected that if you exercise more, you are going to eat more. Most times this compensatory mechanism is beyond your control.
> Exercise stimulates ghrelin hormone. Ghrelin is the hunger hormone. Exercise makes you hungry. Fact!
I’m sure you have noticed this already. When you have done a serious workout, you do feel really hungry. Sometimes intense hunger is going to make you to reach for a doughnut rather than a spinach or cabbage salad.
You are going to need a lot of will power to overcome that urge to go for an unhealthier food option. Even if you succeeded in doing that today and tomorrow, what are the chances that the will power will continue to protect you in the weeks and months to come every time you exercise.
We are programmed to make unhealthier food choices when post-workout ghrelin strikes again and again. Will power is the only tool you have to override that evolutionary programming.
And will power is NOT an infinite resource!
Will power as a behavioural weapon does get used up over time.
Can you begin to see how easy it is to fall into the trap of static weight or gaining weight despite working out or exercising?
Gortmaker and Sonneville from the Harvard School of Public Health examined this feature in 538 school pupils over an 18-month period.
They found out that exercise actually widens the energy gap in favour of energy intake. When the children in their study exercised more, they ate more. They actually ate more than they expended by as much as 100 calories.
What’s more? Studies in children have also demonstrated that when we up our physical activity, we compensate by slowing down our level of physical activity during our non-exercise time. It’s just natural.
Kids who ran around a lot during the day at school times tend to become sedentary in the evening after school. Similarly, the school kids who were less active during school hours are more physically active in the evenings.
> If you are sore following a workout, you are less likely to use that muscle if you look at it from the adult perspective.
We have been programmed to move as little as we can by evolution it seems. Only will power can override that programming.
5. More Muscles
I have included this point here for completeness. This is not a negative but a positive in terms of weight gain. This applies to people who are making real progress but are not beeing encouraged by their scales. Fear not…you are on the right track, sister.
It is clear that muscle does weigh exactly the same as fat. That is say, 2 pounds of muscle will weigh the same as 2 pounds of fat.
But muscle is more compact. Therefore, if you compare muscle and fat by volume, muscle is going to weigh more. A cup of muscle is going to be heavier than a cup of fat, if you get my drift.
Hence when you build muscle faster than you lose fat, you are going to weigh more. This principle only applies to people who have been exercising for months not days and are noticeably making real gains.
And we aren’t talking about cardio here. Cardio doesn’t build muscle at least not significantly anyway. We are talking about people who have consistently been doing weight training.
If you are new to fitness, it is expected that you could gain up to 2 pounds of muscle with consistent weight training in a month. That figure will improve as time goes on.
But unless you are doing everything right, it is not a good idea to assume your weight increase is due to muscle building especially when you are new to the game.
The idea that you have built muscle might give you a nice warm and fuzzy feeling but it’s probably not true. It takes time to build muscle and that only happens when you are ticking all the weight training boxes in the medium to long term.
Nature hates losing. Your body isn’t stupid. Your body can clearly recognises the fact that you are trying to lose weight and it will try to inhibit any further losses in any way it can.
> Did you know that 60% of your energy burn every day comes from your basal metabolic rate?
This is the calorie you burn for just being alive. Even if you did nothing, all the metabolic processes that go on behind the scenes to keep you alive require energy to keep going.
That energy requirement means you burn about two-thirds of your daily energy needs through this mechanism.
Problem is when your body senses unusual high activity from getting physical, it recognises what you are trying to do.
> Being a smart alec, your body slows down the energy expenditure by slowing down your basal metabolic rate to conserve energy. It’s a primal survival instinct.
The net result is you have to exercise or work out twice as much to burn the same number of calories you burnt previously.
The way forward
Looking at what you have just read you might think this piece is all about exercise bashing or you may reach a conclusion that exercise is bad for you.
No, far from it.
Exercise is great for you and it has immense benefits. Don’t just use it as the ‘be all and end all’ for your weight loss journey.
Exercise makes you hugely insulin sensitive, thereby helping you fight and prevent type 2 diabetes, helps you manage high blood pressure, helps you prevent heart disease and even strokes, helps you fight inflammatory conditions like arthritis, helps you fight aging, improves your mood.
The list of benefits is long but when it comes to weight loss, use exercise as a supportive tool that will assist your nutritional adjustments. If you don’t fix nutrition, it doesn’t matter how much exercise you do, you are not going to get very far with your weight management.
You’ve probably heard it before – “You cannot outrun a bad diet”.
Simple but true.
Talking about nutritional adjustment for sustainable weight loss, see suggested reading below:
Whilst I don’t consider myself an expert on shoes, I have however done enough research to make what I would call informed recommendations on the ideal walking shoes to take along for a trekking or hiking challenge.
There is the debate as to whether one should go the Trainer-style route or the hiking route.
I don’t think it matters much whether Trainers or Hiking boots, because each has its pros and cons. It therefore depends on what you want and the nature of your challenge.
One thing though is that Hiking boots can be a little heavier than trainers. I suppose the weight may not matter much in the beginning of the walk.
But as the challenge gets tougher with more mileage under your belt, a heavier shoe might become a significant factor.
In that regard, Trainers, might be preferred. Trainers are lighter, more flexible and some are so well designed you won’t know you have shoes on at all.
The latest generation of trainer-style walking footwear are quite sturdy despite being featherweight and naturally you are likely to get more traction and momentum from them than their heavier hiking-style cousins.
However, trainers are usually ankle high which means, in a rugged terrain or where the walking trail is covered with vegetation, your feet are more protectedwith hiking boots. Trainer-style shoes will certainly not cut the mustard if you are heading in the direction of snow or muddy terrain.
Hiking-style boots on the other hand are usually above ankle and most are invariably made of waterproof material. This makes hiking-style boots more weather-proof and is a big, big advantage.
If your walking challenge terrain is of the snowy type or one that involves crossing low-level streams, then there is no denying the fact that hiking-style boots would be the way to go.
Whatever choice you make, one serious advice is not to rein in on the budget when it comes to footwear for a walking or hiking challenge.
In fact, I would say categorically that your footwear is the most important accessory when undertaking such a challenge.
You can save money on the rucksack, the walking poles, the weather jacket etc, but you must pay particular attention to your shoe choice because your feet will hate you for being too economical.
Your feet are going to do 80% of the work in a walking or hiking challenge, why not look after them.
Hiking Shoes or Trainers – Things to consider.
In reaching a decision about hiking boots or trainers, here are some of the features for you to think about. They all seem quite important. Hopefully your choice would be something that would make your exercise blissful.
Comfort – This is an obvious feature. Your feet should welcome your shoes without fuss. Comfy shoes are what you want any day, any time anywhere.
2. Waterproofing – As stated earlier, no one wants want wet feet walking their dog let alone during a serious challenge exercise like walking or hiking. If your choice is not particularly waterproof, then a dose of waterproof spray wouldn’t go amiss.
The shoe should be made of breathable material to allow for easy drying if weatherproofing is an issue.
3. Weight – For this feature, a trainer-style shoe would be a better choice. Trainers are much lighter but still provide enough mid-sole support for the arch of your foot.
4. Sizing – This is a tricky one. You don’t want a snug fit because if you are walking in a hot weather, your feet will expand. So, you need to leave room for that little swelling that will occur. You also need to leave room for sucks.
At the same time, you don’t want to leave too much room because a downhill descent will make your feet slide to the front of the shoes causing a jamming effect. That will hurt over time.
A sensible thing would be to buy half a size over your regular size. For instance, I am size 11. I will buy size 11.5. This would strike a nice balance for comfort and dynamics of walking.
5. Sticking points – The inside of the shoes must not have sticking out areas. Such sticking points might appear innocent at first but when a long walk is undertaken, they will inevitably rub with the ultimate end point being blistering. This excludes the heel. You need a particularly well cushioned heel as a bare minimum.
Recommended Walking Shoes – Hiking or Trainers
With all those features in mind, here are 4 picks of shoes for you to consider having done some research.
For Ladies – My suggested walking/trekking footwear for women
Salomon X Ultra 2 GTX, Women’s Low Rise Hiking Shoes
A little pricey but seems to meet approval of professional hikers. These shoes are in the trainer-style category.
Ever experienced a feeling of nausea or dizziness after exercise? Maybe not. If you have, my drama below will resonate with you.
Everyone needs a bit of drama in their lives. Otherwise life would be boring. Some people have more than others. Mine came recently from an unlikely quarter. Exercise!
Having been unfit for a long while yet, I sought to change this and for good reason too. When your health is falling apart right in front of your very eyes because you are too busy with life, then it’s time to take a hard long look at yourself and ask the question:
Do I want to carry on like this?
And if you have your head screwed on properly, then you will listen to that inner voice that says: hey, buddy, sit up and take charge.
That was the encounter I had with myself several months ago that prompted a change in my lifestyle entirely.
Being unfit meant I had relegated exercise to the back seat and carried on with life as if fitness will take care of itself for me. Dreamer!
So, listen, I did to that inner voice and embarked on exercise regimens. Half of the exercise I do is of moderate intensity and the other half vigorous and that’s how it should be.
Both the moderate and the high tempo exercises have suited me during this journey. Indeed, I was enjoying snatching back my life from the jaws of metabolic syndrome. Still do even to this day. It’s a breath of fresh air when you do…seriously.
Anyway, so it was until I had a hiccup one evening that put a question mark into my new lease of life, totally unexpected.
What happened to me?
Here’s what happened.
I had just finished my vigorous routine. The routine being High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) which I adore. You have to huff and puff when you complete each set. If you don’t, then that will pass as suboptimal training.
The whole point about High Intensity Interval Training is doing short bursts of exercises very quick and very hard to challenge your cardiovascular system up to the hilt and also recruiting every single muscle fibre involved in that set of physical activity you so choose. That builds muscle endurance.
> One big advantage of High Intensity Interval Training is that it is very time efficient. You can be done in 25 minutes or less.
Enter this awesome day. I huffed and puffed. Concluded my routine. Had a glass of very cold water. Sat down with Missus after I regained my breath. We were chatting away. The next thing I knew, a weird sensation started creeping up my tummy.
I was developing a nauseous sensation and as the conversation proceeded, the feeling of nausea was becoming somewhat difficult to ignore. I was initially not going to let Missus know about it. Didn’t want to frighten her, but nope, I couldn’t keep up the pretence.
So I told her what was happening as the sensation got stronger and stronger. Then I started to feel dizzy and really lightheaded too.
The doctor in me was now thinking of the worst possible scenario. Was I having a heart attack? I had no chest pain or discomfort or even tightness. But heart attacks don’t always come in black and white as described in my medical textbooks.
> Yes, sometimes the only sign of a heart attack could just be a feeling of nausea and light-headedness. Panic was now setting in.
Missus called my 2 sons downstairs. They were upstairs doing their thing as teenagers do. The younger one figured they should ring 999. He rang straightaway.
The call was answered but I managed to waive to them not to bother. Call was discontinued. The lady who received the initial call at Emergency services call centre calls back. You know, she was not sure why the call ended abruptly. She had a duty of care to call back to establish what was going on. Nice of her!
Anyway my eldest son answers the return call and tells the lady not to worry as Dad was feeling better. I was sitting upright at the time. I didn’t think that sitting position was helping my cause at the time.
> So I slipped from the office chair I was sitting on at the time onto the floor. The idea was to equilibriate my blood pressure. Make it easier for my heart to pump blood to the upper parts of my body but not against gravity.
I never really vomited after all. The feeling of nausea quietly dissipated over the next couple of minutes. Got total relief after about 25 minutes or so.
Ironically just before my ordeal started, Missus was telling me this story of how the son of a prominent journalist died suddenly following jogging episode. Now she’s convinced High Intensity Interval Training is not something for her with this drama.
She never really warmed up (pun not intended) to the intensity anyway, so no surprise there. Missus is unlikely going to be convert. Not in the near future anyway.
Well I think she’s missing out big time. These things happen but that’s no reason for us to sit on our bums and embrace metabolic problems here, there and yonder.
So what’s just happened to me?
It’s a phenomenon of post exercise nausea or exercise-induced nausea or sickness if you will. Turns out it’s not that uncommon when I dug deeper into it.
> The main difficulty is trying to distinguish between a cardiac event and just plain feeling of nausea following vigorous exercise.
Feeling sick after exercise oe workout is very common especially after any High Intensity Interval Training routines inclusive of circuit training. Studies have shown that Circuit Training is the quickest route to cardiovascular fitness and muscular endurance. Participants also reach their weight loss goals quicker and sustainably than diet and other plain exercises.
The advantages of high Intensity Interval Training are not to be sniffed at…
…but this may come at a cost. Hopefully not by paying the ultimate price.
One of them being what I experienced. Feeling nauseous after vigorous exercise or workout is quite unpleasant. I hated and dreaded those 25 minutes or so that I sort of succumbed to my after exercise nausea.
Whilst I figured this wasn’t a non-classical heart attack, there’s always that nagging feeling at the back of my mind. Is my heart is not coping very well with the vigorous nature of the High Intensity Interval Training?
The main reason I felt the origin of the problem wasn’t from the heart was because I had undertaken exercise tolerance test in the past and came out in flying colours but the last time I did one was a good ten years ago. On this account the nagging feeling of self-doubt persisted.
When I have a background nagging feeling I dig deeper into it and do something to put away any doubts no matter how small. I will tell you what I did next…
But before then, I did say exercise-induced nausea is a recognised entity. This study revealed nausea can occur in both low intensity and high intensity exercises.
> However, the incidence of feeling nauseous after exercise is more likely after high intensity exercises and eating too close to exercise.
The study also established it made no difference whether you were a man or woman or being physically fit or otherwise.
So why do you feel nauseous (sick) after exercise?
As I said before it’s a good idea to exclude a cardiac event. We want to be sure we are dealing with a benign event rather than something more serious.
The benign explanation for nausea following exercise is this. Vigorous exercise diverts blood from organs not essential for exercise performance. Your bowels are not essential, so blood supply to your gut is reduced significantly in preference to the muscles, heart, lungs and brain.
That relative short-circuiting of blood flow to the bowels leads to a malfunction. The bowel malfunction manifests as either a feeling of nausea or being actually sick with or without an urge to move your bowels the other end too.
So it’s not surprising that the closer you eat or drink before you embark on your exercise routine, the higher the likelihood of having this unpleasant event. There are stories of individuals who actually move their bowels the other end (sorry about that) quite consistently after any vigorous physical activity.
If you feel lightheaded or dizzy, this could be related directly to the changes taking place in your bowel blood flow or as in my case blood pressure changes. What we describe as postural hypotension – the sudden drop in blood pressure when you change your posture usually from lying to standing up.
In my case, I was squatting initially and changed position to a higher chair. My body didn’t like it because my body was still recovering from the pummelling it had just received from the high intensity workout.
The heat generated by all of that skeletal activity will have to be dissipated from the body somehow. What’s the quickest way to do that? Sweating, of course. Your body needs to thermoregulate during exercise to lose all of that heat. Your sweat pores open up and you pour out sweat.
Body fluid loss from the sweating doesn’t help matters in terms of blood pressure changes but the main effect on blood pressure drop relates to slowing down of sympathetic activity after the workout.
Another explanation is that if your blood sugar was not optimal prior to commencing the exercise, you might suffer some degree of low blood glucose. Hypoglycaemia (low blood glucose) can manifest itself as lightheadedness, dizziness and even nausea. Low blood sugar has no effect on the blood pressure though. It acts independently in that situation.
Wierdly, overhydration can cause exercise sickness too. Drinking too much water just before, during and after a high intensity workout can make you feel nauseous or be actually sick after your serious exercise routine.
The explanation for this is the same as before. Blood being differentially drained away from the bowel whist at the same time asking your bowel to do some work. Probably unfair on your poor bowel and it will rebel. Can’t blame it, can you?
Feeling Nauseous After Exercise Reasons
In summary, after excluding a cardiac (heart) event or a lung malfunction, the other benign reasons why you may experience nausea after exercise or dizzinness after exercise include the following:
Short-circuiting of blood from the bowel to vital organs
Blood pressure changes usually positional
Low blood glucose
Underhydration prior to exercise
That list is by no means exhaustive but common things are common.
Just how does lack of physical activity or lack of exercise causes type 2 diabetes? The link between type 2 diabetes and lack of exercise is fascinating.
Prior to explaining how lack of physical activity leads to type 2 diabetes, I’d like to explore the following sub-topics first. But you can jump to that specific sub-topic using the links below if you are in a hurry.
So, bear with me because prior knowledge of these basics will enable you to understand the exercise and type 2 diabetes relationship a lot more. It will encourage you to take your exercise regime a lot more seriously. Especially so, if you have concerns regarding type 2 diabetes.
But before that, let us chew on some stats first, shall we. In 2010 the proportion of diabetics in the US grewby 1.9 million in the age group 20 years and over.
In the same age group 35% of US adults were diagnosed with pre-diabetes of which 50% of them were over the age of 65. These diagnoses were made using fasting blood glucose or HbA1c test.
What do these statistics tell us?
They tell us that pre-diabetes is very prevalent in the US population, with lots of it still unrecognized. The estimation from the CDC is that at least 79 million US adults are living with prediabetes. Now as you know pre-diabetes precedes type 2 diabetes and taking simple steps like engaging in exercises or some regular physical activity can halt progression to full-blown type 2 diabetes which has been shown to be the 7th leading cause of mortality in the US.
But how does the lack of exercise lead to type 2 diabetes?
Let’s define what exercise and physical activity actually mean and is there a difference between exercise and physical activity?
Before we talk about how physical activity and exercise relate to type 2 diabetes, why don’t we clarify in our minds what we mean by physical activity or indeed, exercise.
Is there a difference between exercise and physical activity? Turns out, there is.
A physical activity is said to have happened if there is movement of any part of our body that triggers contraction of a skeletal muscle. Not only that, that muscular contraction should result in use of energy more than the energy you would otherwise have used if you were sitting or lying idle. Yep, idling doesn’t yield any dividends, folks.
Exercise on the other hand is the process of undertaking repetitive physical activity as described above, that is structured and planned to:
Improve one’s level of physical musculo-skeletal fitness
Improve cardiac fitness
Improve respiratory fitness
And improve flexibility.
Your exercise structure may target more than one objective. Indeed, most exercise regimes have practically all of those objectives in mind.
As far as cardiac and respiratory fitness are concerned, you want to condition your heart and lungs to be able to supply your entire body (especially muscles recruited during exercise) with enough oxygen. This is because the demand for blood and oxygen inevitably goes up during exercise. The demand for extra blood and oxygen increases exponentially depending on the intensity of the exercise.
Okay, now that we have distinguished between exercise and physical activity, let’s talk about what happens during exercise.
Because that’s how to figure out how lack of exercise or lack of physical activity can lead to diabetes. It makes sense to understand the different processes going on in your body when you engage in moderate to vigorous physical activity.
What happens to your body during exercise?
Exercise leads to a dramatic increase in energy needs or turnover. This increase in energy need has to be met somehow.
Call in the endocrine system that is responsible fight or flight. It’s called the adrenergic system. This adrenergic system gets very smart. It knows the muscles you have recruited for the exercise will need more energy otherwise the muscles will tire out very quickly.
To prevent this, the adrenergic system will reduce blood supply to organs that are not in immediate need for this exercise purpose. An organ like your kidney is not needed for exercise purposes for instance, so the blood supply to the kidney will shrink at the expense of supply to organs and tissues that need more blood like your muscles.
To achieve this objective, the adrenergic system will stimulate your heart muscle to pump harder and faster. This increase in pumping action of the heart leads to a redistribution of blood to the working muscles.
More blood to the group of muscles being exercised means delivery of more fuel because a working muscle needs fuel, plenty of it at that. What’s the fuel being delivered? Oxygen, glucose and non-esterified fatty acids.
Muscle in its own right has glucose stores inside it called glycogen. As the muscle contracts rhythmically during exercise, it will initially use up the glycogen stored inside it as its primary source of fuel.
However, as the duration of exercise continues and with enhanced delivery of blood from circulation, there is a shift in energy source from the stored glycogen to glucose and non-esterified fatty acids from the blood circulation. This is because the internally stored glycogen called up initially depletes very quickly, so a back-up is needed.
If exercise intensity is sustained as well as the duration, there is an exponential shift to use more carbohydrate for muscle energy production.
To facilitate the provision of more glucose for energy utilization, blood insulin levels drop whilst that of other hormones like glucagon, cortisol and of course adrenaline increase.
This change in hormonal dynamic is very important. If this dynamic fails, blood glucose levels will drop dramatically leading to hypoglycaemia which is dangerous. Glucagon hormone in its drive to increase blood glucose level also promotes the metabolism of proteins as well as the breakdown of fat.
The seesaw action of glucagon hormone release and reduction of insulin is necessary for the maintenance of blood glucose levels. Insulin and glucagon have diametrically opposing effects on the body. If insulin is predominating, glucagon has to chill and vice versa, otherwise there would be a metabolic chaos!
Why…because the initial insulin kick mops up glucose from circulation into muscle cells which is a welcome development in the beginning of the exercise process. Blood glucose level is lowered as a result.
However, we do not want this situation to persist for long as very low blood glucose will tire out the muscles in use very quickly.
So glucagon comes in to rescue the situation to mobilize new glucose production from the liver as the exercising muscles are still demanding more glucose to use as fuel.
This step is very vital otherwise our exercise endurance will suffer. If there is shortage of glucose supply to the exercising muscle, the muscle will fatigue out very quickly. The idea is to optimize blood glucose level to within normal range.
In addition, fat breakdown is encouraged to release more fatty acids for energy use and like I said before with a small contribution from protein breakdown, the longer the exercise continues.
Another factor involved in this exercise activity is a protein called GLUT4 (weird name, isn’t it?).
GLUT4 is responsible for the transportation of glucose from the blood circulation into the inside of the cells. The process GLUT4 activation is triggered by the hormone, insulin, as well as muscle contraction and muscle stretching.
Scientific evidence that proves lack of exercise or lack of physical activity can cause type 2 diabetes
As you probably know studies that would prove conclusively that lack of exercise definitely causes prediabetes or type 2 diabetes will be difficult to formulate for ethical reasons. Effect can be proven but a definite cause would be unethical in research terms.
However, one study that supports lack of exercise causing type 2 diabetes comes from Leicester, England. This study looked at the association between sedentary time and physical activity with markers for cardio-metabolic health as outcome measures for the study.
They enlisted 878 participants from 2 groups with known risk factors for type 2 diabetes. In fact, the participants were already in a diabetes prevention program. All the study participants had the same risk profile. All the study participants were from the same geographical location and the cardio-metabolic markers were done by the same trained staff for standardisation purposes.
The study found that the more sedentary time participants had, the worse their cardio-metabolic markers in the form of:
2-hour blood glucose
…even after adjusting for obesity. By the way, these are markers for insulin resistance which ultimately leads to type 2 diabetes. They also found that breaks in sedentary time played an even more important role in body weight management than just the total sedentary time.
The authors concluded that it is just as important to recommend to individuals to sit less and move more rather than focusing on intensity only.
In short sitting for hours on end is a risk factor for insulin resistance. We know that insulin resistance ultimately leads to prediabetes and type 2 diabetes.
So how exactly does lack of exercise cause type 2 diabetes?
Okay, you have seen from that research study that sedentary lifestyle is bad for your metabolic health. The main reason being that just sitting for prolonged periods of time leads to insulin resistance with type 2 diabetes being the end point.
When you exercise as you saw from earlier on this page, you reduce your blood insulin levels. High insulin level is bad news for your metabolic health as high insulin levels has a strong association with insulin resistance. Exercise makes your muscles more insulin sensitive.
Exercise always leads to your body burning more fuel. The main fuel needed for that burst of physical activity is glucose with a little help from fatty acids and protein through its breakdown units – amino acids.
The more you exercise, the more glucose you burn. Physical activity clears glucose from your blood circulation.
The harder and longer the exercise, the more glucose you call upon to burn as fuel which ultimately leads to lower blood glucose profile – a much healthier scenario than persistent high blood glucose levels for prolonged periods that translates directly to diabetes.
Exercise especially if it is resistance training leads to the development of new muscles and growth of your current muscle fibres. Bigger muscles means more glucose is sucked away from circulation normalizing your glucose levels.
Studies have shown that both aerobic and resistance training increase the availability of GLUT4 protein. This protein has the unique role of transporting glucose from outside the cell i.e your blood circulation to the inside of the cell where the glucose is desperately needed. More GLUT4 getting triggered makes your muscle cells very sensitive to absorb glucose around it rather than resist it.
When you exercise, the fall in insulin levels and consequent rise in glucagon hormone (remember insulin and glucagon don’t like each other – if one rises, the other has to drop to make way) encourages fat breakdown for energy use.
Why, because insulin is a fat storage hormone whilst glucagon discourages that. Less insulin equates to less fat storage.
In summary, exercise or regular physical activity does the following to prevent type 2 diabetes:
Exercise increases insulin sensitivity both in muscle and in the liver
Exercise reduces insulin hormone levels which encourages fat burning
Exercise causes glucose clearance from the blood stream thereby normalising blood sugar levels
Exercise causes the release of glucagon hormone which encourages fat mobilisation and fat burn
Exercise increases availability of GLUT4 involved in glucose signalling and glucose metabolism within the cell
Exercise activates brown fat which is 100 times more effective in heat production than white fat
Exercise and in particular weight training leads to new muscle generation and old muscle hypertrophy which is beneficial for glucose utilisation
An increase in fat breakdown from exercise means you reduce your chances of becoming obese. Obesity is a significant risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
The bottom line is this:
When you exercise or perform a set of physical activity regularly, you make your body tissues more insulin sensitive. If you don’t, you get the opposite – insulin resistance.
With lack of exercise or lack of regular physical activity, you develop obesity and insulin resistance both of which dovetail into type 2 diabetes with the passage of time.
So there you have it, folks. To prevent diabetes, you need to sit less, and exercise just that liitle bit more at the very least. Your metabolic health will thank you for it.
If you have doubts about the benefits of walking, then you are missing out…big time.
If you are not aware of it yet, there is a recommendation that we should be looking to walk 10000 steps a day to reap the benefits of walking i.e aim for optimum health.
Some people might argue that walking 10000 steps a day will not make a blinding difference to one’s health or put in another way, there aren’t any benefits to walking the recommended 10000 steps.
Usually the people on that side of the fence are individuals who believe that, jogging is it. If you aren’t jogging, you are not going to see any benefits to your health. Well these individuals are wrong!
On the face of it you might think these folks in favour of jogging are right because yes, jogging looks more strenuous and looks more of a vigorous workout than walking. But when you look at the scientific evidence, the two exercises aren’t so far apart as far as the health benefits are concerned.
Pushing yourself hard on the jogging front might look like a good idea at the time but you may have a change of heart and take things a lot more slowly by walking or jogging less. Especially when there are no significant overriding benefits of jogging over walking.
Why Jog when you can walk: Jogging vs Walking
Here is an anec dote. If you spot a cardiologist who used to jog or run if you like, practically every day for decades, because he believed jogging was better for his cardiovascular health than walking… …but now hardly ever jogs but walks instead, then you should take notice. He should know, shouldn’t he?
His name, James O’Keefe. He is a cardiologist at Kansas City. He invested 2 – 3 hours a day running without fail for years. Moving forward, he now walks not run or jog.
This change in his workout routine stemmed from his own investigation into how intense exercise affects the body and the heart in particular.
He now believes running can be harmful to the heart. The first benefit of walking is actually that walking is kinder to the heart in physiological terms. This is not speculative but a research-based conclusion.
A study carried out by O’Keefe and his colleagues looked at the dose of exercise in relation to longevity or on the flip-side, mortality.
They looked at the effects of pace, quantity and frequency of jogging on 1098 healthy joggers with 3950 healthy non-joggers. Followed the participants up prospectively for 14 years.
In this Copenhagen Heart Study, O’Keefe and his colleagues found that 1 – 2.4 hours per week of jogging was associated with the lowest mortality with optimum pace being slow, surprisingly. Another surprise was that the mortality of non-joggers was similar to those who jogged strenuously.
So what does this mean exactly? It means if I put in the hard work of running or jogging 5 – 6 times per week, pushing myself hard to breaking point (7mph pace), then my likelihood of death is similar to that of a sedentary non-jogger, right? You have got to ask the question, why bother jogging at a pace of 7 miles per hour if you could walk it?
No one is implying that jogging has no benefits. Indeed, jogging pushes up life expectancy by 6.2 years in men and 5.6 years in women.
The problem is the pace and frequency of jogging needs to be moderate or even slower to get those benefits. Anything more, jogging becomes counterproductive. The conclusion seems to be “To feel just a little breathless but not too breathless”. At the pace suggested, walking is just as good for your cardiovascular health and overall longevity. If that’s the case, why not just walk then!
James’ opinion as a Cardiologist is that the human heart is not designed for prolonged sustained levels of intense exercise. He believes it is actually more harmful to your cardiac health in the long run (no pun intended).
These intense exercises can lead to micro-tears in the heart when you do intense exercises which would rapidly heal. However, repeated insults to the heart muscle would eventually lead to scarred healing. Walking is unlikely to cause such heart muscle injury, repeated vigorous jogging can.
The one place in your body you don’t want scarring is your heart muscle. Any scarred area in your heart muscle contributes to pumping inefficiency. The result – heart failure and or atrial fibrillation in later years.
Walking vs Jogging on the immune system
Exercise is supposed to improve our response to bugs hanging around especially air-borne bugs. The thinking is that the more fit you are the more your body can ward off infections.
The problem is if you engage in too vigorous exercises like jogging habitually, then the evidence seems to be that you lower your immunity. You become susceptible to upper respiratory tract infections with exercises like jogging.
In all honesty, I can attest to that. Every time I push myself so hard I tend to feel “fluey” for the next 48 hours or so. On this account an exercise like power walking which provides you with moderate level of exertion will be preferred option.
Therefore, one benefit of walking or low level jogging is that it will raise your immunity level protecting you from those pesky viral bugs hanging about in the air.
Walking for weight loss
Does walking make you lose weight? This is a question that is often debated because walking is not considered intense enough exercise to accelerate metabolism.
I have looked for evidence and I have to say, there are some studies but proving it beyond reasonable doubt that walking will make one lose weight is always going to be tricky.
Tricky because of the confounding variable of diet. If you designed a study to prove the point of walking and weight loss, how do you go about executing such a study without dietary intervention?
There is that pluralistic conundrum that hangs over studies like that and sometimes we have to accept it for what it is.
One of the better studies conducted regarding walking was the Gordon-Larsen one. This study had 2 things going for it. Duration – the study was conducted over 15 years and it had a reasonable size of 4995 participants.
Also the authors did their best to account for those confounding variables – non-walking physical activity, calorie consumption and others before reaching their conclusion.
The authors concluded that walking actually had an independent preventive effect on weight gain. In effect, a benefit of walking is that it will certainly help you maintain your weight at the very least.
This meta-analysis included only randomized control studies and prospective cohort studies and the conclusion of the authors support the view that weight loss is achievable with a pedometer-based walking interventions.
However, this weight loss with walking is more likely achievable the longer one pursues this lifestyle choice. One thing is clear though. When you walk, especially with power walking you burn calories just by virtue of the fact that walking is an exercise in itself. How much calories you burn will eventually depend on the distance, pace and frequency.
In fact, it has been recently identified that the equations programmed into the popular fitness trackers are obsolete. The fitness trackers are underestimating the amount of calories burnt with each effort. They are looking to see how this could be changed to produce a more accurate calorific output figure.
Is Walking good for high blood pressure (Hypertension), Diabetes and cholesterol?
Does walking have any effect on high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cholesterol is a popular question often asked?
Yes, walking has been proven to lower blood pressure because of the improved cardiovascular efficiency it promotes. The more you walk, the better the blood pressure lowering effect of walking.
Exercise in general including walking has the ability to relax the muscle fibers that make up the wall of your blood vessels making them more pliable. Relaxed muscle means less resistance to the flow of blood through the vessels when the heart pumps. This results in lower blood pressure because your blood pressure is a product of the resistance in your blood vessels.
Walking good for diabetes?
Yes of course. Studies have shown exercise including walking to be favourable to pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes. The reason is that exercises like walking reverse insulin resistance. Put in another way, exercise makes you more insulin sensitive.
What does that mean? It means physical activity like power walking makes your muscle cells more responsive to commands by insulin to take up glucose from the blood stream. The result is your blood sugar levels drop to normal levels pretty quickly following a meal. Your body cells become more insulin sensitive when you walk consistently.
The same applies to cholesterol. Exercises like walking have the potential to lower cholesterol too.
Walking vs jogging for high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol?
An interesting study that looked at the effect of exercise intensity on high blood pressure, diabetes and cholesterol had a conclusion that supports walking as a good enough lifestyle choice for those medical conditions.
The study concluded that brisk walking and vigorous exercise like jogging produced the same benefits for improving diabetes, cholesterol and hypertension. Surprised?
Other benefits of walking include:
Musculoskeletal – walking is good for your sense of co-ordination and balance. The more you walk, the more strength you apply to your muscles and bones making them stronger and fitter for purpose.
Mood – any exercise is good for the mind. Endorphins are released in the brain and you generally just feel good about yourself and happy.
What more can you ask for? Just walk, folks.
Let us know your experience. Have I left anything out?
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