Why you really don’t want to skip your exercise now

RGBstock photo - Ayla87

RGBstock photo – Ayla87

Time is tight right now.  Between work, family, shopping and partying, there are few free hours in the day.  For many, when holiday activities abound, regular exercise is one of the first casualties.  It’s not just something that happens during  this holiday season but also at other times of the year when usual routines are disrupted  such as during vacation time or while travelling.

Scientific research shows, though, that this may be when exercise is even more important  to your health than when life is calm and serene and healthy eating is the norm.

In a recent study, published in the The Journal of Physiology, researchers assessed the effects of regular exercise on young healthy subjects during a period of  extreme excess caloric intake – doesn’t that  sound like holiday eating?

The subjects were divided into two groups:  one was to consume 50 per cent more in the way of calories than their usual food consumption while restricting their physical activity for seven days while the other, along with consuming that extra 50 per cent of calories, also participated in a 45-minute daily treadmill session.

During the exercise sessions, the workout was carried out at a rate to boost heart rates. The exercise group also  consumed even more  calories to make up for those burned during their exercise sessions.

Blood tests measuring various risk factors,  such as blood sugar regulation and  biopsies of abdominal fat, were conducted before the regimens began and at the end of the study period. In both groups, all the tests were normal prior to the investigation.

But after just seven days, the sedentary group experience unhealthy changes in their blood sugar regulation as well as in their fat cells. The overfeeding in this group resulted in the turning on of genes that go hand in hand with lifestyle-related diseases and turned off those that seem to offer protection.

More and more research is looking at the way our environment affects our genetic makeup. This is called gene expression.  It now seems that while you may not be dealt a great hand in terms of family history of disease, it’s how you play the game  whether you win or lose.

The group that exercised regularly while overeating did not experience any of the  negative effects in their blood tests or in their genes.

But it’s not just  the young healthy and fit who may benefit from exercising regularly during festive feasting. And it doesn’t have to be a daily workout. There seem to be health perks for all ages.

In a study of sedentary post-menopausal women, scientists evaluated a number of different blood clotting factors before and after a three-week period of regular exercise.  These factors play a major role in the likelihood of developing a blood  clot which can lead to a heart attack or stroke. In this case, the workout schedule, rather than being daily as was the case in the previous investigation,  was just three times a week. After just 10 cycling sessions, there was a significant improvement in the blood clotting measures.

Regular exercise, whether brisk walking, cycling or swimming,  can also boost metabolic rates and lead to a better energy levels and greater stamina to survive the holiday season.

It certainly does give new meaning to survival of the fittest.


Do you exercise regularly? When you’re busy, does your exercise routine become non-existent?

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Research Roundup

Author:Rosie Schwartz

Rosie Schwartz is a Toronto-based consulting dietitian and writer.

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