Confused how one, tiny, little hour of daily exercise can impact your otherwise lazy-ass lifestyle? That’s understandable. A lot of us have this notion that the metabolism is an off/on switch. Working hard = burning calories. Sitting around = not burning calories.
I don’t want to justify anyone’s sad sack, PS3 playin’ existence, but the body is a little more complex than that. That hour (or even 45 minutes) of weight work, basketball, or yoga is going to build muscle – and muscle requires more calories to exist than fat. In other words, the fitter you are, the more calories you burn simply sitting on the couch playing Super Metal Gear of Zombie Honor Apocalypse 3 or whatever. (And, yes, yoga builds muscle, you caveman. But that’s a lecture for another time.)
Further proof that a little workout goes a long way comes via small study appearing this month in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. From the Los Angeles Times:
The small study involved 10 healthy men, age 22 to 33, of various body mass indexes and aerobic fitness levels. Their calorie expenditure was measured after they exercised vigorously for 45 minutes, as well as on a rest day… The 45-minute exercise session… burned an average 519 calories… But the big news is what came afterward. In 14.2 hours following the exercise bout, calorie expenditure was elevated, resulting in about 190 extra calories burned.
While I’m stoked on the LA Times for reporting this, I’m a little perturbed by the follow-up paragraph:
While that may not seem like much, think of it as being able to eat about three Pepperidge Farms Milano cookies with no consequences, or getting the calorie burn of a 30-minute walk at 4 mph for free.
Way to take a positive discovery and spin it to justify eating crappy food. Also, you don’t get the 30-minute walk “for free,” given the 190 bonus calorie burn isn’t working your cardiovascular system like the stroll would.
That said, this is great intel. I hope you use it as motivation to take 45 minutes to an hour for your body each day. But don’t use it as a baked-goods-chompin’ get out of jail free card. And if you do choose to eat the cookie, for the love of God, walk that 30 minutes to the bakery instead of driving three blocks to the 7-11. Those little bits of exercise are still going to have a huge impact on your fitness – and the zombies will be there on your 40″ plasma screen to slaughter when you get back. They’re undead; they’re not going anywhere.
(In the event that you want to buy me that cookie jar, here’s the link.)