Exercise/Movement

Move more or just stand up?

Published 8.26.2017
Moving is essential to health and longevity, I firmly believe that. Move it or lose it would be the "bumper sticker version of that belief. Moving, however, is a subjective term. Many people, I suspect, hear or read the words, "move more," and think that means deliberate exercise. A trip to the gym, running, biking etc— whatever your choice of poison would be.

Unless a person is a professional athlete, or an amateur training for a competition or job, that deliberate exercise is going to a very small part of the day. Evidence has shown that an hour in the gym does not offset the effect of sitting on one's duff for the rest of the day.

This is why the topic of non-exercise activity thermogenesis or NEAT is so often mentioned at this site— because that's the movement that needs to be increased. Let's suppose you are a true gym rat and make it there seven days a week for an hour a day. And you sleep well and get eight hours a night. That still leaves 15 hours or the majority of the day to be accounted for. If you sit for most of those 15 hours, an hour at the gym isn't going to make much of a difference.

The easiest way to increase NEAT is to just stand up. Just 30 minutes of additional standing improved metabolic markers.

During the time the participants were awake, on average 9.4 hours (60%) were spent in a sedentary position. The remaining waking hours were spent standing (4.3 hours) and stepping (2.0 hours). When sedentary time was reduced by 30 minutes and replaced with 30 minutes of stepping, the risk of having the metabolic syndrome lowered with an impressive 28%. The risk of having type 2 diabetes was lowered with an equal impressive 21%. Remarkably, replacing 30 minutes of sedentary time with 30 minutes of standing also significantly reduced the risk of metabolic syndrome with 7% and for diabetes with 6%.

Most people can find a way to stand for 30 minutes more a day. No gym membership fees or special equipment required. It’s not about losing weight, obviously, 30 minutes of standing won’t offset an extra cookie. It’s about activating the systems in the body.

Exercise is better for glucose control then medications for type two diabetes.

At 1 year, mean glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) in the lifestyle group dropped from 6.65% at baseline to 6.34%. In the standard care group, HbA1c dropped from 6.74% to 6.66% (mean between-group difference -0.26%, 95% CI -0.52% to -0.01%, P=0.15). This result did not meet the pre-specified criteria for equivalence, said Mathias Ried-Larsen, PhD, of Rigshospitalet in Copenhagen, Denmark, and colleagues.

However, 73% of the lifestyle group reduced their glucose-lowering medications, compared with 26% of the standard care group (between-group difference 47%, 95% CI 28.6-65.3, P<0.001), the authors reported in JAMA.

Mean HbA1c was 6.7% in all study participants at baseline. They had been treated to a target of 6.5% with a standardized, algorithm-based regimen prior to the study in order that any additional effects of exercise could be assessed, Ried-Larsen's group said.

As in so many things with the body, there’s a U shaped curve to the benefit for exercise. Too much is not good, but neither is too little. Other examples (for those curious enough to look them up) include sodium intake and weight. Too much weight is dangerous, but so is too little. Those who mock moderation are courting disaster in many cases.

This link is an abstract, but it supports my current exercise regimen, hence it is highlighted.

Compared with sedentary nonjoggers, 1 to 2.4 h of jogging per week was associated with the lowest mortality (multivariable hazard ratio [HR]: 0.29; 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.11 to 0.80). The optimal frequency of jogging was 2 to 3 times per week (HR: 0.32; 95% CI: 0.15 to 0.69) or ≤1 time per week (HR: 0.29; 95% CI: 0.12 to 0.72). The optimal pace was slow (HR: 0.51; 95% CI: 0.24 to 1.10) or average (HR: 0.38; 95% CI: 0.22 to 0.66). The joggers were divided into light, moderate, and strenuous joggers. The lowest HR for mortality was found in light joggers (HR: 0.22; 95% CI: 0.10 to 0.47), followed by moderate joggers (HR: 0.66; 95% CI: 0.32 to 1.38) and strenuous joggers (HR: 1.97; 95% CI: 0.48 to 8.14).

As in so many things with the body, there’s a U shaped curve to the benefit for exercise. Too much is not good, but neither is too little. Other examples (for those curious enough to look them up) include sodium intake and weight. Too much weight is dangerous, but so is too little. Those who mock moderation are courting disaster in many cases.