New Study Shows Walking, Standing Beat Exercise
All our lives, we’ve been told to stay active. Play sports. Get your heart pumping. Break a sweat. And now, a study just published in the journal PLOS One has called all that into question.
At least, that’s what the headlines are saying. The question is… is that what the study really shows? Will you really be healthier if you hang up your sneakers and just spend a few hours a day standing around and walking?
Let’s take a look…
According to the stories I’ve seen so far, a group of French researchers tested walking and standing against moderate to intense exercise. Eighteen volunteers wither took part in no exercise, one hour a day of fairly intense exercise, or a total of six hours of walking and standing.
The scientists measured the volunteers’ blood fats and insulin levels before the experiment… and after just 4 days. The walking/standing group showed improvements in their LDL cholesterol and triglycerides the others didn’t. They also showed greater sensitivity to insulin – an indicator of healthy blood sugar control.1
Based on that information, it sure looks like walking and standing may have health benefits compared to intense exercise. But a closer look reveals something else entirely.
The first red flag is the small number of participants. The study looked at a total of 18 young men. That’s six men per group. That’s too small a group to be a truly representative sample.
The second red flag is the length of the study. Could you imagine if we made all our medical decisions based on just four days of observation? That’s simply not long enough to prove much of anything.
Picture this: A new artificial heart is tested in animals for four days. Everything seems to be fine, so the FDA approves it for use in humans. After four days of testing.
As the saying goes, “not gonna happen.” Because nobody has any idea what may happen four weeks… four months… or four years down the line.
If we all hang up our sneakers and trade exercise for a little walking and standing around, what would happen over time? I can tell you.
We’d get weaker and less healthy. Why? Because more intense exercise builds muscle, endurance, and heart and lung health. Walking and standing simply aren’t as effective.
So did this study’s authors get it wrong? Not at all. The headlines got it wrong.
The study didn’t actually find that walking and standing are healthier than intense exercise. Perhaps the most important point of the study has been passed over.
What did the volunteers do when they weren’t walking, standing or exercising?
They were sitting around.
That’s right. The no-exercise group sat for 14 hours a day. The group that exercised for an hour sat for 13 hours a day. And the walking/standing group sat for only 8 hours a day.
In other words, the study shows is that sitting around is less healthy than moving around. Something we already knew.
But the researchers weren’t just wasting time. What they were actually trying to figure out is if there was a difference between the exercise and the walking/standing in people who spend a lot of time off their feet.
And the answer is a tentative “yes,” when the number of calories burned is equal. Which brings us right back to the advice you got when you were a kid: Stay active. Play sports. Get your heart pumping. Break a sweat.
And spend as little time as possible just sitting.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals Wellness Team
1 Duvivier, B.M.F.M., et al, “Minimal Intensity Physical Activity (Standing and Walking) of Longer Duration Improves Insulin Action and Plasma Lipids More than Shorter Periods of Moderate to Vigorous Exercise (Cycling) in Sedentary Subjects When Energy Expenditure Is Comparable,” 2013; PLoS ONE 8(2): e55542. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055542.
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