Perhaps because I loathe sweating, my weight-maintenance plan doesn't involve the gym. I make a point to walk as much as possible, but ellipticals, stationary bikes, and crunches are avoided. In general, whenever possible, I will embrace the passive approach (limiting food consumption) rather than the active (driving to a gym, weight-lifting things).
Additionally, my personal observations concluded that many of those who most proudly proclaim gym-devotion aren't exactly, um, slender.
Here enters another article claiming that a relatively immobile lifestyle doesn't automatically equate to obesity. Researchers decided to test the theory that higher activity means burning more calories by observing one of the few remaining hunter-gatherer societies. Apparently, despite the fact that the subjects were on the move the entire day, they did not expend any more calories than we do.
Fascinatingly, moving about only accounts for a small amount of the energy we use. Our bodies are in essence a machine, and all the microscopic components, on a cellular level, eats up the most calories.
Of course, if we push our bodies hard enough, we can increase our energy expenditure, at least in the short term. But our bodies are complex, dynamic machines, shaped over millions of years of evolution in environments where resources were usually limited; our bodies adapt to our daily routines and find ways to keep overall energy expenditure in check.
All of this means that if we want to end obesity, we need to focus on our diet and reduce the number of calories we eat, particularly the sugars our primate brains have evolved to love. We’re getting fat because we eat too much, not because we’re sedentary. Physical activity is very important for maintaining physical and mental health, but we aren’t going to Jazzercise our way out of the obesity epidemic.
While exercise is vital to health, it has less of a connection to weight than we would like to think, as new research concurs. Thirty minutes on the treadmill (or in my case, two 15 minute walks to and from public transportation), and you are good to go.
This article reminded me of a story featured a few years ago on 60 Minutes. Two groups of monkeys over fifteen years had been given diets composed of less and more; the monkeys who ate more had a higher percentage of being disease-ridden and dead, compared to the ones who were given limited portions.
Some individuals are making a point to semi-starve themselves with the expectation of long-life.
The jury has still not yet concluded if that is a wise way to go, but I know personally that when I don't have a hefty supper, I feel fabulous the next day.
Of course, thin does not automatically equal healthy. But the abundance of food (or stuff that masquerades as "food") that is so very available to us nowadays must be navigated with awareness and discipline.