Science Decides That Even a Teensy Bit of Exercise Is Good for You


Even science can get a little frivolous over the holidays. We can be frustrated all the live long day that science hasn’t yet given us a mech warrior army, amusement parks built around Saturn’s rings, or cats with opposable thumbs, but frustration alone won’t spur scientific innovation, especially this close to the holiday break. No, all science really has the stomach for right now is yet another study about how exercise is good for you, even if it doesn’t burn off the massive amount of holiday calories you’ll no doubt ingest during the next few weeks.

So, exercise is good for you. After much debate, it is becoming clear that moving around is better for your organism than not moving around. For instance, you wouldn’t want to eat a Nutella ham sandwich and then just sit around; you’d want to move. Almost immediately after swallowing your last bite, in fact. You could wrestle a pet or move furniture around — anything, really, even if you don’t work up enough of a sweat to incinerate all traces of the sandwich from your body.

These are the findings (more or less) of a new study about holiday gluttony published today in The Journal of Physiology. Researchers had 26 young, healthy, virile, bronco-like men drastically reduce the vigor with which they went about their daily activities. Half the group was also told to exercise daily on a treadmill for 45 minutes. At the same time, these men were all asked to overeat, the more slothful group by a mere 50 percent and the treadmillers by 75 percent.

Even though everyone’s net energy surplus was the same (both groups had taken in waaaaaaay more calories than they burned), the non-exercising group

showed a significant and unhealthy decline in their blood sugar control, and their fat cells were overexpressing genes linked to unhealthy metabolic changes and were under-expressing genes involved in well-functioning metabolism.

Blood and insulin samples taken from those lads able to perform a wee bit of exercise (the study was British), however, showed a “less undesirable gene expression.”

One of the study’s researchers, James Betts, explained that the results suggest that weight gain and weight loss aren’t explained in simple caloric formulas. Exercise has lots of swell health benefits even if it isn’t vigorous enough to burn off all the calories a person takes in, say, during the holidays, when most of the Western world falls into a pattern of indiscriminate consumption.

Image via Getty

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