Surprising science: How to keep fit without breaking a sweat

Walk Up StairsDo you have trouble dragging yourself to the gym?

And have you ever wished you’d lose pounds and live healthy without all the sweat?

If so, you may want to get your hands on the BBC documentary The Truth About Exercise. In this programme, Michael Mosley, a self-professed sloth, goes on a quest to live healthier without sweat-breaking exercise. And what he digs up is surprising.

In one scene, he meets up with a scientist in a London coffee-place for a full English breakfast: sausages, bacon, the whole package. Then they take a sample of his blood and isolate the fat in a centrifuge. Michael is shocked to see a big layer of fat swimming on top of the tube.

Even more impressive is what happens next. The scientist orders Michael to eat the very same breakfast the next morning but with a difference: a 90-minute walk the evening before. The result? Michael reduced the fat in his blood by a third! All it took was a walk through London – no gym, no sweat.

Get up

Now, if like Michael you feel that 90 minutes is too much too squeeze into your day, here’s more good news.

It comes from Dr. Levine, obesity researcher at the prestigious Mayo Clinic. His main message is: “Get out of your chair”!

His research shows that the less you sit, the more you increase your metabolic rate. Just by standing up, you’ll increase it by 10%. Fidget a little and it goes up more. Take a few steps and you’ll double, maybe even triple it. Why is that a good thing? Because every step you take jumpstarts you body. The electrical movement in your muscles triggers a whole series of healthy events:

  • your blood sugar goes down
  • your blood fat goes down
  • your cholesterol goes down

Dr. Levine is adamant about this: there shouldn’t be an hour a day that you sit still. You’d actually be better off without exercise but a lot of casual movement all day than sitting for hours and hitting the gym after work.

Every step counts

A growing array of research is coming to the same conclusion. One study tracked over 120.000 Americans during 14 years. It found that men who sit over six hours per day in their leisure time have a 20% higher death rate than men who sit three hours or less. In women the difference was even higher: 40%!

So, if you hate sweat-breaking exercise, you can finally lay your bad conscience to rest. Just move a little more! Here are some ways you can do that:

  • Take the stairs, not the elevator
  • Need to speak to a colleague? Walk as you talk
  • Buy a pedometer. Counting your steps can motivate you to walk more
  • If you have a device like the Jawbone Up, set the idle-alert to 15 minutes: you’ll get a nudge every time you’re idle for too long
  • Stretch a little – every movement is better than sitting still
  • Use AddApp for tailored advice on how to move more

What keeps you moving during the day? Share you tricks in the comments below. We’d love to find out.

Image credit: Dean Eckert

Content writer at Addapp. I write about exercise and productivity. I'm obsessed about tennis. Off the court, I also help people rediscover their love for writing.

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