Monday, January 3, 2011

Monday's Slap of Reality - Workout or Get Fat!


Did that get your attention? Unless you want to pack on the pounds as you age, you need to be active; such is the conclusion of the latest study out of Northwestern Medicine research. Well, if you’ve been reading this blog and the website your reaction should be the same as ours…and resounding, “Duh.” Alright sarcasm aside, plenty of people around the US, and the rest of the World, still seem to find this as news to them or else they simply have chosen to ignore the facts.

Published in the December 14th issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study done by the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) is the first of its kind to not only span 20 years but it also checked in with the 1,800 female and 1,700 male participants the most frequently. In the past check-ins were only done a mere two times (start and stop) but this one had seven follow-ups and is currently still plowing ahead towards year number five. And the results?

For the women, those who partook in regular high activity (almost every day, people) were able to stave of an excess of 13 pounds. Let’s hear it for the ladies. The active men also kept some weight at bay, an average of 6 pounds, but it seemed that they ended up consuming proportionately more calories than the women and overestimated just how much they actually worked out, hence the contrast. “Everyone benefits from high activity, but I was surprised by the gender differences,” notes Arlene Hankinson, M.D., the lead author of the study and an instructor of preventative medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She goes on, “It wasn’t that activity didn’t have an effect in men, but the effect was greater in women. Now women should be especially motivated.”

But reality goes on…what is the definition of highly active? Again our blog readers should know that a leisurely stroll doesn’t make the grade. “High activity was the only kind that made a significant difference,” Hankinson harps, “Not many people actually do that.” In fact of those participating in the study it was only a mere 12 percent.

Outside of kicking that spare tire to the curb, a myriad of other health related perks come with being a fan of fitness and healthy living. What those behind this and other studies hope to portray is that we must impart to our youth that being active is essential and that they then have to carry that into adulthood. Cites Stephen Sidney, M.D., coauthor of the paper, “Common medical problems such as heart disease, diabetes and obesity have their origins in childhood and can generally be prevented by maintaining a normal weight, not smoking, exercising regularly and eating a healthy diet throughout life.”

A final note; just because you were a sport’s star ‘back in the days’ that doesn’t mean you can rest on your laurels. Some were under the misinformation that it’s okay to become sedentary as we age, but you can’t look at working out in your youth as a way to ‘stockpile it up’ for the years to come…we aren’t squirrels here people! Actually age is working against us as Hankinson confirms, “It’s difficult to avoid gaining weight as you age. Our metabolic rate goes down.”

A surefire way to decrease that metabolic rate is to not only continue regular cardio but also resistance training to negate muscle loss. Everyone is busy, but that isn’t an excuse to let your fitness, and your health, fall to the wayside. There are plenty of ways to bust a sweat and an effective workout in 30 minutes or less…you owe it to yourself. And heck, being able to strut around 6 to 13 pounds slimmer than your peers is also a nice boost to the old ego!
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