NYT: A set point for exercise?

Imagine if we all had a set point for exercise. It would be the perfect excuse for brushing aside your new exercise regimen and just staying on the couch. Your body would be compensating for exercise by being extra lazy for the rest of the day anyways, so what would be the point? A recent NYT article plays with this so-called “activitystat” theory, and brings up some pretty interesting newly published research, both supporting and disproving the notion.

Exercise useless to combat obesity?
You can see the NYT’s summary for the full run-down, but the conclusion is really important. The take-home message isn’t meant to be that exercise is useless. It’s absolutely not. Just refer to our research and the benefits should become quite apparent…

Rather, losing weight can be more complex than adding a light run into your daily routine, and the NYT article focuses primarily on obesity – not cardiovascular health per se, as is our focus. While there may be a genetic component to your “natural” exercise level, the physical and cultural environment clearly also plays a role. An obese person isn’t genetically destined for inactivity, rather predispositions can mean that some people must overcome additional factors to get fit.

Types of exercise are not created equal
This thinking also has limited benefits because it fails to take into account the fact that all types of exercise are not created equal. Several research studies at CERG have compared high- and medium-intensity exercise, and found that aerobic interval training (representing high-intensity exercise) is more effective than continuous moderate exercise. High-intensity training improves the prognosis for heart attack patients compared to usual care both in the short and longer term, and yields better health improvements in patients with metabolic syndrome. Therefore, conflating all types of exercise and expecting a universal result at best leads to an imprecise conclusion.

Still, on those blustery fall nights, it sure is tempting to think that braving the cold to go outside and do some interval training is a waste of your time…

Written by Hanna Sofie Ellingsen at CERG.

This entry was posted in 4x4, Cardiovascular disease, Exercise, In English, Lifestyle, Motivation, Public health, Research by CERG. Bookmark the permalink.

About CERG

The Cardiac Exercise Research Group (CERG) at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) seeks to identify the key mechanisms underlying the beneficial effects of physical on cardiac health in the context of disease prevention and treatment. Named the K.G. Jebsen Center for Exercise in Medicine under Professor Ulrik Wisløff's leadership in 2011, CERG uses both top-down and bottom-up approaches to combat lifestyle-related disease.

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