In a 2012 study at the University of Copenhagen, researchers found that previously sedentary men who exercised for one hour per day actually lost LESS weight than men who exercised for 1/2 an hour per day. (They were not dieting at all, but had to keep a food log). The potential reasons they gave for this conundrum were that one hour of exercise, in these sedentary men, caused so much fatigue, that they ended up not doing much else, exercise-wise, for the rest of the day, because they felt too tired. Their food logs showed that they were snacking more as well, again, perhaps because when we feel tired, we tend to snack to compensate for our feelings of low energy.
The group doing the 1/2 hour of exercise, however, felt more energized, and ended up doing a lot more moving about for the rest of the day such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and just generally moving about more. Their food logs showed that they snacked less, perhaps because they did not experience the same kind of fatigue that the one-hour exercisers did.
On the National, on CBC on Monday, I watched a story of a young woman who was hospitalized and could have died from a condition called Rhabdo (short for Rhabdomyolysis) where a person who has suddenly done a tremendous amount of exercise all at one time after not doing anything for a long time, suffers a breakdown of their muscular protein, overloading the kidneys and even leading to kidney failure and possibly death, in extreme cases.
The moral of the story is:
If you haven’t been exercising for a while – Go and be checked by your Doctor to make sure there are no underlying conditions which exercise might exacerbate.
Start SLOW, and work your way up to more intense workouts.
30 minutes per day of light exercise or walking, as long as it is done every single day, consistently, can provide you with the same, or better, benefits as working out intensively for 2 or 3 times per week, especially if you have been sedentary for a long time, or you are a bit older.