Exercise/Movement

Movement is essential in so many ways

Published 8.12.2017
I believe that moving is essential to health. if this hypothesis proves correct, moving was essential to our evolution.

Their argument: As humans transitioned from a relatively sedentary apelike existence to a more physically demanding hunter-gatherer lifestyle, starting around 2 million years ago, we began to engage in complex foraging tasks that were simultaneously physically and mentally demanding, and that may explain how physical activity and the brain came to be so connected.

It’s only a hypothesis, of course, and it matches my preconceived bias so naturally I hope it will eventually be proved.

Moderation for the win

Some people (Gary Taubes, for one) exchew exercise because they believe that it increases hunger, and therefore works against weight loss. Research shows that exercise does affect hunger, but the effect depends on the intensity and duration of the exercise.

Longer, more moderate exercise didn’t stimulate hunger as much as shorter intense bouts of exercise. This is why walking while working (which I still miss) was so effective in helping me lose weight in 2012 and 2013. The slow pace kept me moving and burned calories, but wasn’t enough exertion to induce hunger.

Intense workouts cause increased pooping? That’s not a reason to avoid exercise, though it might be another reason to keep it to a moderate level.

A systematic review suggested that exercise intensity was a key regulator of gastric emptying rate, with higher intensity exercise (≥70% peak power output) causing the greatest disturbance to gastric motility, according to Ricardo J.S. Costa, MD, of Monash University in Victoria, Australia, and colleagues.

However, steady state moderate exercise (60-70% peak power output or 66% VO2max equivalent) did not appear to influence gastric emptying and intestinal transit compared with rest in well-trained individuals, they wrote online in Alimentary Pharmacology and Therapeutics.

The good news is that when you stop the intense exercise the effect dissipates. Not to get too personal here, but I have experienced this back in the days when I ran road races. I think the bottom line is that the body reacts to stress— any stress— and certainly intense exercise is a form of stress for the body.

This might be another reason to choose moderate exercise. Intense exercise causes calcium plaques.

The studies offer evidence that people who exercise for long periods and with great intensity appear to have an elevated risk for atherosclerosis. But, reassuringly, the atherosclerotic lesions that develop in intense exercisers are more likely to be characterized as stable.

This suggests that the body tries to heal, and exercise might help? It also suggests that a Ca score might not mean what everyone thinks it does. These are associations and correlations, it does not show or suggest causation. This is one of the papers discussed (abstract only).

Moving mechanics

Movement is essential throughout life, especially as we age. However, as people age, the perils of falling increase. The best way to avoid broken bones is not to fall. Good balance is an essential to staying on your feet. Any movement that works on balance will reduce falls.

Pooled data from 10 randomized controlled trials showed a significant 43% reduction in the risk of falls compared with other interventions at 12 months or less, and a reduction in the risk of injurious falls by 50% over the short term, Rafael Lomas-Vega, PhD, from the University of Jaén in Spain, and colleagues reported online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

The protective effect of tai chi diminished over time, such that the risk reduction dropped to 13% for falls and to 28% for injurious falls with follow-up of a year or greater, the researchers found.



The best running stride is whatever stride is comfortable for you and doesn’t result in injury. I’ve written about my running history previously, so I won’t repeat myself here. I will restate that running in any way other than your natural stride will likely lead to injury. Don’t do it.

Do bike helmets keep people from cycling? For myself, it was the posterior pain that prompted my to get off the bike. The editorial suggests that while helmets are essential in some forms of biking (racing, mountain biking, etc), for casual or commuting biking the need for a helmet emphasizes the danger of biking and increases the inconvenience, thus fewer people bike. Helmets can also give riders a false sense of security, and so they take more risks. He does note that biking in the US is more dangerous than in many places, but that is actually a solvable issues.