A twist to the 10,000 steps advice

There has been increasing evidence in recent years that a sedentary lifestyle is bad for us. One of the antidotes has been to focus on the amount of exercise that we need to do daily with various goals such as 10,000 steps or 30 minutes of ‘moderate’ activity being prescribed.

However, a new study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology suggests that exercise alone doesn’t counter prolonged periods of sitting. A caveat here, this was a very small study however the authors do propose an underlying mechanism to explain their findings.

Prolonged periods of inactivity cause enzymatic changes in the muscles which impact the body’s processing of lipids and sugars. Not even a single big training session day counteracts this.

The takeout. Get up and move regularly during the day – every hour is a good start and if you can add a resistance component such as walking up stairs then even better.

Fitness - banking life quality deposits for the future

Jack Daniels measuring the fitness of Jim Ryun

Jack Daniels measuring the fitness of Jim Ryun

A recently published study (Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 16th August 2017) looked at the change in fitness for a group of highly trained athletes over a period of more than 40 years. The group were originally tested by Jack Daniels in the run up to the 1968 Olympics (1500m silver medalist Jim Ryun, left) and were retested most recently in 2013.

The athletes in question carry out quite different exercise levels today, with some exercising a lot and some almost not at all. On the weight front, some had gained more weight than others. Not surprisingly the athletes were among the very fittest of people of their age to be tested despite it being many years since they trained seriously with markers such as resting heart rate remaining very low.

It seems that being very fit as a young adult gives you a buffer for later in life even when you stop training. Think of it as making fitness deposits in the bank of personal wellbeing. You can draw on this later on to ensure a higher quality of life than your peer group who were less active in their youth.