How Do Sugar & Activity Affect Our Lifespan?

April 20, 2011

Pacing while on the phone and changing position throughout the day can help improve health.

The New York Times had two hot topic articles this week, the first regarding the potential for sitting to lead to obesity and a shortened lifespan, and the second talking about sugar as a toxin. Two ubiquitous things with such dire consequences–how much should you worry?

Sitting, something most Americans spend their 8 hour work day doing, may lead to obesity, an increased risk for Type 2 diabetes, poor cholesterol, and a shorter lifespan.
Why? Because when we rest, our muscles and our bodily processes cease to function at the rate they do when we move around. Fortunately, there’s a loophole, and it’s the important part of this story.

NEAT, or Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenesis, is proposed as what those who don’t experience the same weight gain or negative health effects of those who remain completely still while sitting are doing. Their brains are unconsciously compensating for lack of needed movement.

This isn’t the first study to suggest that people who twitch/move around subtly throughout the day keep extra calories off, but it is one of the more thorough. People who (for example) tap there feet to music, take short walks (to the water cooler, down the stairs instead of the elevator) are not really just sitting, they are using their muscles, and it has an important effect on our health.

If you follow our Twitter account you can get tips to remind you to incorporate #SneakyExercise into your day, as well as other health news, tips, and promotions.

What about sugar?

Most people already understand that excessive amounts of sugar lead to increased risks for obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease, but Robert Lustig, featured in another New York Times article, calls sugar a “toxin”, and a “poison” as well as the cause of many diseases, from obesity to cancer.

Cutting out sugar will almost certainly have a profound effect on your health, since many products containing sugar (besides having high calorie counts) have other unhealthy ingredients. What you need to understand about the article, and Lustig’s opinion, is that he is making statements that are not 100% true. He’s taking science and making broad, controversial statements.

Rather than worry about every ounce of sugar you eat, focus on moderation, not just of sugar, but of all quasi-healthy foods.

Did you see these health stories? What was your reaction and what questions do you have?

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