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Exercise Counters the Effects of Christmas Excess

A daily bout of exercise can counter the harmful effects that short-term inactivity and overeating have on health, according to a new study published in The Journal of Physiology.

Evidence exists to support the theory that even a few days’ worth of consuming more calories than you burn, can be harmful to health. A new study, from the University of Bath in the UK, takes this a step further and suggests a daily dose of exercise can bring health benefits that go beyond just helping to burn excess calories.

In a study by Dr James Betts and colleagues, 26 healthy, active young male volunteers aged from late teens to early 30s, were invited to consume more calories than normal for a week. Half of the volunteers were asked to restrict their physical activity (to below 4,000 steps per day), in order to generate an energy surplus. The other half were asked to run on a treadmill for 45 minutes per day (at 70% of maximum oxygen intake). The inactive group were asked to consume 50% more calories than normal. The exercise group were asked to consume 75% more calories, so that the daily energy surplus of all participants was the same.

At the beginning and end of the week, the volunteers gave fasting blood samples, underwent oral glucose tests and had samples taken of their abdominal fat. After only 1 week, the differences between the two groups were striking.

The inactive group showed a significant, unhealthy decline in blood sugar control. Their fat cells were over-expressing genes that are linked to disrupted nutritional balance and unhealthy metabolism. Their fat cells were also under-expressing genes linked to healthy metabolism.

However, these effects were markedly less in the exercise group. Their blood sugar levels remained stable. Whilst their fat cells demonstrated changes in gene expression, these were significantly less “undesirable.”

The researchers concluded that exercise of vigorous intensity counteracted most of the effects of short-term overfeeding and under-activity at the whole-body level and in adipose tissue, even in the face of a standardized energy surplus. Despite consuming more calories, the exercise group was still better off.

So what does this mean for us this Christmas period?

We know that there is every possibility of over consumption over Christmas, but this awareness should give us every reason to make sure we maintain our exercise routine during this period. The message from this study for those entering a Christmas period of over consumption and inactivity, is that, daily exercise will prevent many negative changes occurring, even though you are gaining weight.

Keep your appointments with Optimum, and make sure you are exercising every day. This will ensure you’ll have a great Christmas, as well as avoiding lasting side effects in the New Year.

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