Did any one see Professor Regans television show last week? The concept of the programme was to look younger and ultimately see what works and what doesn’t – using scientific evidence. One such method was exercise – and can we stop going to the gym to be leaner and fitter. Sounds good? Read on…
Prof. Regan’s show brought about the idea of using general everyday activity to help increase our health and decrease our weight and body fat percentage. I know this as N.E.P.A. (Non Exercise Prescription Activity) and often have clients do this on ‘off’ days from vigourous exercise. The Idea in the program introduced N.E.A.T. (Non Exercise Activity Theremogenesis), basically meaning that increased everyday activity will burn more calories over time, reducing our overall weight, bodyfat percentage, and increase our health in numerous ways.
Sounds good? Well, not so fast, mr eager-to-not-work-so-hard.
Prof Regan wonders wether there is a substitute for conscious effort
The participant in the experiment was a fairly sedentary 30-something that was overweight, over fat, and wanted to change – without going to the gym, running, or any other form of ‘exercise.’ He wore a sophisticated pair of shorts with many sensors inside that tracked his every movement, from waking to bedtime. His instructions were to walk wherever possible, walk to the bus stop, stand on the bus, iron clothes, do washing up, cook meals etc – all in the way of burning small amounts of energy here and there. On the first day it was estimated he had burned an extra 317 calories. Roll on 3 weeks eh, he will be lean, fit and healthy for sure.
Ironing – more fun than the gym?!
What actually happened was that his body weight and bodyfat percentage actually I increased I to what it was at the start of the experiment. His arteries were expanding 66% more so his blood pressure was lower, and he generally felt fitter.
What was that? He gained fat?!
Yes that was not a typing error. He gained both bodyweight and body fat. I can imagine right now you’re thinking ‘why is that’? Surely if he was doing more he would be lighter and hopefully leaner?
Well, that is usually what everybody thinks. In the programme itself, the reason given by the participant himself (and oddly accepted and concluded by Prof. Regan and the show itself) was that he had simply eaten more food as he was hungrier with doing more exercise. This (somewhat obvious) variable should have been accounted for in the experiment, and seen as though it was not, it hints that NEAT does not work in terms of body composition improvement. Sure, it will help lower blood pressure, probably decrease stress and overall lead to a better health profile. Unfortunately, in terms of losing body fat – looking leaner, it will do very little – if anything.
What can I do to get leaner then?
That’s the question I hear you cry. First off, (as should have been done in the experiment) you should be tracking what you are eating. Even though your diet might be poor or great, you need to know what you are eating so that you can tweak it, if and when progress stalls – because at some point it will.
Sorry to be the bearer of bad news 🙂
This can be your best friends when things are not working so well.
Secondly, and this is why it’s observed that most leaner people go to a Gym, or do resistance training at home or wherever: Do some resistance training that is demanding.
This is my philosophy and I will stand by it, as I have said numerous times, that resistance work is far more important than cardiovascular exercise when losing body fat. To get leaner, you need to make a muscle bigger and the fat around the muscle smaller. Before anyone says it, No, you cannot turn muscle into fat – they are both entirely different. If you do nothing to stimulate muscle contraction you are not forcing the muscle get bigger, and not making your body burn more calories with less effort. What do figure athletes base their training on?
Figure Athlete Jamie Eason does mainly resistance exercise
So there you have it. Another (albeit small) experiment that showed that aerobic exercise does not contribute to improved body composition. Do not mis-understand me – cardiovascular exercise is very important for health, but let’s not forget that most people have a lack of time – and therefore a lack of priorities.
Would you like to be lean strong and healthy?
A sound resistance-based program done properly can do both.
John Cammish (B.S.C) is a local East Yorkshire Fitness Bootcamp Instructor and real-world fat loss expert. He has helped countless individuals change their lives through postive habits with a focus on tried and tested methods. For more details about Personal Training, Fitness Bootcamps, Free Articles and more – check his website (www.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk) and his Bootcamp Blog (blog.yournextlevelfitness.co.uk).