Published December 7th 2013.
As we approach a certain “age” some worries start to creep in. Thus I’ve been reading extensively about these themes. Through these readings, I’ve come across an article from The Journal of the National Cancer Institute related to the dangers of having a sedentary life. And then, as usual with me, I got curious on how much of this was hype and how much was scientific analysis and fact.
And then through serendipity I also come across this book I just read by Russell Eaton. Eaton advocates physical activity + eating right instead of exercise (+ eating right).
“Did you know that exercise actually makes you fat?”
With this bold statement starts Eaton’s argumentation. His thesis is supported in 11 pillars (I’m quoting freely from the book here):
- Exercise and Malnourishment. Exercise causes severe malnourishment and this in turn makes you over-weight however nutritious the diet
- Exercise robs the body of valuable vitamins and minerals (the loss is very significant). A body that is depleted of essential vitamins and minerals is a body that needs to store as much body-fat as a survival mechanism (“starvation response”: fat-saving mode when the body detects a threat of starvation);
- Exercise and Energy depletion. Exercise drains your muscle (and liver) energy and greatly increases your propensity to store body-fat
- As a result, we will inevitably eat food at some point following exercise, and the body will use energy (glycogen) from the food we eat (instead of using surplus body-fat) to replenish muscle energy, ie, the body always gives priority to taking energy from the food we eat rather than taking it from body-fat);
- Exercise and the Cortisol factor. Exercise increases the level of cortisol in the blood, and this is turn makes the body store surplus body-fat mainly around the hips and thighs in women, and around the abdomen in men
- The higher levels of cortisol gained from exercise pre-dispose the body to store fat around the midriff. When the body thinks that we are facing danger (from the stress of the exercise) many hormones are galvanized to get the body ready for emergency action. Cortisol makes blood glucose go up to give us maximum energy. Exercise pushes up blood cortisol and blood glucose. After exercise, insulin brings down the level of glucose in the blood by storing excess glucose as body-fat around the hips, thighs, buttocks and stomach;
- Exercise and the Leptin Factor. Exercise reduces the level of leptin in the blood, and this causes hunger, over-eating and junk-food consumption
- Leptin is a powerful hormone produced by the body to control feelings of hunger. In general the lower the level of leptin in the blood the fatter we become. The higher the level, the thinner we become. Exercise reduces levels of leptin circulating in the blood;
- Exercise and stress. Exercise stresses the body adversely (however much you may enjoy the exercise) and this makes you gain surplus body-fat (free radicals, etc).
- Exercise causes almost immediate hyperventilation and the greater the exertion the greater the hyperventilation (when we hyperventilate we lose carbon dioxide which in turn constricts blood vessels; the lack of oxygen resulting from this, oxidizes the body with all that it implies).
- Eaton also defines exercise “as any physical exertion that is sufficiently vigorous and sustained as to make you breathless and/or sweaty.” (Hyperventilation). On the other hand physical activity is super healthy, ie, activity that is not sufficiently vigorous and sustained as to make you breathless and/or sweaty (and you’re not forced to mouth-breath).
Eaton’s conclusions is that exercise is bad for health and physical exercise is good (eg, cycling, swimming, floor exercises, weight lifting, etc).
Exercise also oxidizes and ages the body before its time, causing a multitude of illnesses and chronic bad health (eg. cancer, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, diabetes, heart disease, premature aging of the body, and weaker bones, etc).
Also interesting is Eaton’s use of scientific papers to support his thesis. One of the most important papers quoted was from Dr. Warbung who won a Nobel Prize for proving that cancer is caused by a lack of oxygen into the cells.
Food for thought and interesting arguments as well, which I hadn’t never seen before in print. Depending on one’s particular case, I’d advise to do your own research. A recommended, thought-provoking read just the same.
Too bad there’s not a chapter dedicated to eating right. It would have gone nicely with the insights on the dichotomy between physical activity and exercise. Well, we can’t have everything…
Bottom-line: Sitting can be fatal. So get off your cushy butt and start any kind of regular physical activity as soon as possible. I don’t think it needs convincing that the odds of a longer, healthier life are far better for me (active sporting life) than the guy sitting on the couch eating chips and watching reality TV every night.