Before asking umpteen questions on what’s good for your body understand that all forms of exercises those including simple stretches, vigorous-intensity exercises or yoga are great for the body. For someone who wishes to pursue physical activity in order to lose weight or stay fit my recommendation would be to first start working on it. Then you can come up with your questions on the best type of workout for weight loss, the best exercises for belly fat reduction, the type of food to eat for staying slim or even the best time to exercise. Earlier, we never had the question of fixing up a time for exercise as early mornings were always fixed for a fresh morning walk or jog in the park. The IT revolution has completely changed our lifestyles and work-life balance. We live in one part of the world but work for another country that has a different time zone which gravely affects our daily routine and circadian rhythm. Every person’s circadian rhythm is critical for the person’s overall health and well-being and, disruption of this can result in problems for life. Those guys going for afternoon or evening shifts stay awake throughout the night, surgeons attend to surgeries any time of the day and there are certain jobs that require round the clock support. How about asking these individuals to get up and get going out in the morning for a short exercise session? This seems impractical.
There have been several debates supporting and denying the fact that performing exercise any time during the day is effective for health. We also do have controversies surrounding the duration of exercise and how we exercise. But now, it’s been proved that even 5 minutes of exercise does good for the body irrespective of the individual involved. We have heard about early-morning birds (early risers) and late-night owls (those who stay awake until late in the night) and this is a never-ending topic of debate. Being a late-night owl does indeed affect your body routine but if the job demands so it is up to you to set right the circadian rhythm according to the new shift schedule. Circadian rhythm has the potential to steer our body's health in any direction depending on the individual's activities and for more information about circadian rhythm please visit www.firsteatright.com. There are some who feel that exercising early in the morning is the best as it lets you breathe the fresh air around, perform the activity with full josh and you are also less likelier to miss out on the session quoting tiredness or lack of time as reasons whereas late-evening exercises robs you of these perks. But there are other motivating factors such as the possibility of group exercise sessions or having a game of cricket or football with family members which indeed is also a form of exercise. While researchers mull over the best time to workout here is a new study that shows that exercising in the morning and evening has different effects on the individual.
Morning or Evening better do Something
Researchers from the University of Copenhagen are surprised with their study results on physical activity that shows that exercise effects differ depending on the time of day it is performed. The study conducted on mice showed that exercise performed at the start of the mouse’s active/dark phase (morning) differs from the effect of exercise performed in the beginning of the light/resting phase (evening). The researchers could identify startling differences in the effects of exercise performed at various times of the day and they contribute these differences to the body’s circadian clock.
The study group focused on the effects in muscle cells which included both transcriptional response and effects on the metabolites. The effects in both these areas are stronger after morning exercise which is mostly due to a protein called H1F1-alfa that plays a central role in regulating body’s circadian clock. It was also found that morning exercise improved the ability of the muscle cells to metabolize sugar and fat, both of which are important aspects to look into people with type 2 diabetes and obesity. Whereas, evening exercise improved energy expenditure in the hours following exercise schedule. The study clearly shows that morning exercise invokes gene programs in the muscle cells which help in metabolizing sugar and fat while evening exercise increases whole body energy expenditure for a prolonged period of time that helps in increased calorie burning. The researchers are unable to reach a decision as to which is much better-morning or evening exercise-as both of them come with different sets of advantages. But this also invokes the idea whether timed exercise sessions could be scheduled as a treatment strategy for people with metabolic disease.
Wake someone and question him/her on the reasons behind the obesity epidemic and pat comes the reply-increased intake of calorie-rich foods and decreased performance of physical activity. There is no denial on their dominance in weight gain problems, but one must also comply with other factors that could play an important part in changing directions of the obesity epidemic.
Beyond The ‘Big Two’
Food marketing practices and decreased physical activity are regarded as the ‘big two’ factors in defining obesity. The big two list includes factors such as increased portion sizes, inexpensive junk food, increased availability of vending machines that sell processed foods and decreased importance given to physical education in school, but the list is more exhaustive than this. There is a list of certain other factors whose effects make us doubt the big two causes as the only sources of obesity.
Dining Out: Every street has got its own café and a restaurant; every city offers a plethora of different food choices with innumerable cuisines and every country boasts of its gourmet food business that’s reaping greater benefits than ever. The portion sizes served at restaurants are enormous where a plateful of food can satisfy two souls’ hunger needs and the oils/butter used are explicitly on the higher side that can cause weight gain in the short run. Still, an analysis showed that individuals who ate 200-300 kcal more during restaurant meals compensate for this increased intake by eating less during other meals. This makes the net increase associated with energy intake extremely small.
Physical Education: There are some who argue that lack of insistence on physical education is a major contributor to obesity. But there does exist evidence showing increased participation of children in physical activity classes greater than before. Irrespective of the PE classes or participation there are proofs that such classes have no impact on obesity levels.
Sidewalks: Early days gave importance to footpaths and walkers but nowadays we see motorists and cyclists using the footpaths more than the pedestrians. There have been much debates that lack of proper footpaths has been an importance cause for rise in obesity rates, but studies have proved that rates of physical activity were neither high nor rates of obesity low in countries that boasted of well-maintained sidewalks and recreational facilities.
High-fructose corn syrup consumption (HFCS): HFCS consumption has increased in the last couple of decades and may people believe this to have increased obesity rates. But a recent research paper presented showed that HFCS and sucrose had similar properties and the effect of HFCS on obesity was no greater than that of sucrose.
Vending Machines: There have been many complaints against the availability of vending machines in schools for their negative impact on obesity and school policies too have been changed to reflect this view. But there is no authentic evidence indicating that vending machines contribute to obesity problems greatly.
Indeed, fast food availability has increased rapidly, portion sizes have become larger and calorie intake greater, but these are not the only causes for obesity and physical activity is the main reason for expanding waistlines. But such singling out of reasons are often interfered by other components that can be equally blamed.
Other Factors that Remain Unexplored
Infection & Obesity: Ten different microbes are blamed for causing obesity in experimental models but their contribution of infections in humans has not been probed into. The gut flora’s composition too enhances adiposity. While experiments are only in the beginning stage the ability of microbes and viruses to alter metabolism may have greater implications on obesity.
Epigenetics & Obesity: Genetic variations affect an individual’s susceptibility to obesity; genetic variations are affected by the surrounding environment and a steady increase in such factors are in fact suppressing the establishments of epigenetic mechanisms that contribute to body weight regulations. Environmental factors during development can cause alterations in genes and it is highly possible that environmental influences on gene regulation can increase the risk of obesity.
Maternal age & Obesity: With more women being work-oriented they enter into marital bliss during later part of the years and bearing children takes an even greater time. The increase in the mean age of first-time mothers has augmented the impact of maternal age on obesity. There are strong evidences linking maternal age with obesity, but age alone doesn’t exist as a standalone factor in impacting obesity.
Reproductive fitness & Obesity: Reproductive fitness is the individual’s or population’s tendency (not necessarily capacity) to reproduce and pass on their DNA. The ability to produce offspring is the most important and easily observed aspect of a population’s reproductive fitness. Studies show that individuals carrying genes favorable to obesity are reproducing at a greater rate than non-carriers which increases the rate of obesity in that country.
Sleep debt & obesity: There are various studies that have been insisting on the importance of sleep on avoiding obesity and there are other evidences too suggesting that appetite and energy homeostasis may be affected by sleep duration. Researchers even suggest that increased sleep can be considered as a promising anti-obesity treatment. Sleeping is integral to living and for a list of sleep-related techniques that can help you enjoy a peaceful sleep during the night please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
Endocrine disrupters & obesity: Endocrine disrupter chemicals (EDCs) are profusely present in the environment and there are higher chances of them increasing in levels in humans too. Such exposure has been doubted to raise chances of obesity in humans as there are many possibilities of interfering with estrogen and androgen signaling.
Pharmaceutical Iatrogenesis & Obesity: Many medications have been blamed to have caused obesity as a side effect and such a weight gain can have debilitating side effects such as increased risk of hypertension, type 2 diabetes, hyperlipidemia and poor medication compliance.
Ambient temperature & obesity: The thermal environment affects both energy expenditure and energy intake to maintain homeostasis and a thermal neutral zone (TNZ) is defined as a range of temperatures across which energy expenditure is not allocated towards maintaining a constant body temperature. Climate control helps individuals spend more time in the TNZ which result in positive energy balance and this manifests as weight gain. In general, people consume less food in a hot environment and even studies show that people go for lower-calorie items during summer. Exposure to high temperatures increases metabolic rate.
All the above factors clearly show that there are quite many other factors that exist outside the big two and some of these factors have easy interventions that can prevent obesity. For instance, obesity due to sleep debt can be prevented by sleeping well and analyzing whether it has effects on weight loss. While the above factors are not exhaustive it gives a clear indication to scientists and others to abstain from strongly believing the ‘big two’ to be the only ones that promote obesity.
Lifestyle or genetics are the root causes for different problems depending on the person’s perception and his/her way of living. For instance, ask a couch potato if its lifestyle or genetics that dominates a person’s health and pat comes the reply-genetics. Meanwhile, a fitness freak or a disciplined guy who exercises daily relies solely on lifestyle and blames lifestyle practices for any of the problems that happen with respect to health/fitness.
So, is time and ageing kind on some while being cruel to others? A number of health issues are left at stake with one sentence that shuts a person’s mouth -“It runs in my family”. All that you do after hearing this sentence is laugh out to your heart’s content. Practically, except for 100% genetically inherited diseases such as Huntington’s or sickle cell anemia all other diseases only pose the risk of inheriting the gene that carries the increased risk for disease manifestation.
Of late, there has been a lot of debate on the genetic nature of the Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Just like the BRCA gene associated with breast cancer risk, the APOE gene has been garnering ample publicity for its association with AD. Individuals who inherit one copy of the e4 variant of the APOE allele are at an increased risk of the disease while those who inherit two copies of the allele are at an even greater risk. Its ideal to note that people with one or two copies of the allele are only at an increased risk of developing the disease and not at risk for AD itself. Not every person with AD is a carrier of the allele nor do all people who carry the allele are sure to develop AD in the future.
A Tragic Win
Genetics might seem scary but elicit a happy feeling simultaneously in some others. Its scary as there is the danger of a disease lurking around anytime in the future but joyous at the same time as it requires no efforts from the individual’s end in terms of health changes or decision-making roles.
Whenever you try to inculcate healthy behavior in an unhealthy person they come up with the right excuses and examples. One such is the example of a world-famous runner called Jim Fixx who popularized running as a sport and spread the advantages of jogging to everyone. Ironically for someone as fit and exercise-inclined as Jim, death struck him in the form of heart attack at the age of 52 while he was jogging. People who like to abstain from exercising quote Jim’s example to escape from health-promoting activities. In reality, Jim inherited a predisposition to heart problems and if he hadn’t exercised regularly, he could have died in his late 30s or early 40s too. By exercising and leading a healthy life he had prolonged his life tenure greatly.
The recent rush is on epigenetics. Environment’s effect on the genes can influence disease and some of these effects can be inherited in humans. Epigenetics is the genetic control by factors other than the individual’s DNA sequence. In short, what exists between the genes matter more than the genes itself. Markers for epigenetics remain dormant and get turned on or off depending on the everyday choices made by the individual and the way in which he/she leads life. There are many studies and insights that dwell on genetic link to diseases such as obesity, Alzheimer’s and cancer but it has also been proposed that genetics affect these diseases no more than 10-20% in any individual. For example, only 10% of people carry the gene for AD and only around 50% of those who carry the gene develop the disease. Rest of the AD cases are due to successive brain damage that occurs in the course of life.
Ultimately it all boils down to the everyday choices you make in life and your approach towards life. These choices and time will tell more about your body beyond genetics and all. Always remember one thing, more than the age it is the wear and tear of your body that determines its health. Look after your body well and nourish it with nutritious food, daily exercise and stress-reduced life to enable it to function smoothly for a longer period. If you don’t take care of your body and treat it roughly, you are sure to suffer from the resulting consequences. For directing your body in the right track get in touch with registered dietitian nutritionists at www.firsteatright.com.
Every single step that you take physically-walk, run or jog adds upon your benefit of a healthy life. Time and again insistence on doing activity and exercise whenever time permits-in the form of taking the stairs by avoiding the escalator, parking the car further away from the parking lot or walking while talking over the phone-has been displayed. If you are one of those who gives excuses in the form of lack of time we have various studies showing that doing even 10 minutes of exercise every day or short bouts of exercise through the day-in the form of even 2 min sessions-have tremendous potential to decrease the risk of health-related diseases and overweight-related issues. I am sure that we can all find 10 minutes in 24 hours! We have been recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise five time a week and not even 50% of us comply with this. But, rise in obesity and overweight statistics are never on the downside too. The world is moving towards an obesity epidemic and if we don’t do something sooner to stop it, we would be at a point of no-return in a while.
While we desperately try to utilize every opportunity available to stay healthy and reduce risk of diseases there are some who live a carefree life unbothered about anything until the ultimatum strikes. A new research shows that obese individuals who commute by car have a 32% increased risk of death compared to those who commute by cycle or walk. Its absurd to ask someone who travels 50 kms up and down to work to ride a bicycle or walk! Remember, we are practical. All that the study is trying to show is the positive impact that exercising can have on the body and beyond this, the negative impact that staying sedentary can have on our health.
There have been previous studies that proved that commuting by cycle or walking decreased the risk of death by as much as 50% compared to community by car. There have also been studies on school students showing that walking to school decreased the risk of obesity compared to travelling by school bus/van (for an elaborate explanation on this please visit www.firsteatright.com). A new study tried to understand the effects of commuting by car to work on 1,63,149 men and women aged between 37 and 73 years of which 50% of them were females. Obesity is defined as a BMI greater than 30. The study participants were classified into four different groups-car commuters, walking and cycling (active-mixed), cycling-only and walking-only. As the study period proceeded some 2,425 participants died and 7,973 developed heart disease. While those having a healthy body weight and doing mixed active commuting (cycling and walking) remained unaffected by health risks greatly those commuting by car and suffering from obesity were at a 32% increased risk of premature death, at a double risk of heart disease mortality and 59% increased risk of non-fatal heart disease. Also, obese people who were active commuters were at the same risk of death possibility as normal-weighted people who were active commuters too. But, the risk of suffering from heart disease was 82% in active commuters with obesity compared to those with a healthy body weight. This shows that irrespective of your weight there is a definite chance of reaping benefits when you exercise regularly-only the percentage varies depending on your weight issues.
The study is a sure indicator that people with obesity or overweight can benefit from lower mortality risks when they engage in physical activity regularly. Active commuting is an excellent way to stay in shape and reach benefits-it requires no additional efforts and can be implemented well within your available time. It only helps to increase your overall physical activity level and reap greater benefits. Do some sit ups whenever you get time, get up and walk every once an hour, take an activity break from your schedule to go for a quick walk and stretch your hands and legs often to keep them flexible.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.