Dr. W on Calories In = Calories Out
By Dr. Sven W., MD
Basic working formula. Nothing profound. Simple math. You put 2000 calories into your body- then you must follow thru and use those calories throughout the day. Put in 100 calories per day more than you use, multiply by 7 days, then over a month you have gained a pound. The solution is found on either end of the formula or simply stated- eat less or burn more. What could be simpler? Look around you and everywhere you turn you see those extra pounds on almost everyone. What has happened? We eat too much and we move about less. So obvious and, at the same time, so difficult to surmount. I was at the airport last week, waiting and still waiting for my flight. Outside my gate the airline has opened a new, enticing, and seductive food court. The appeal was overwhelming. Nothing to do – eat. Hundreds of people milling about, entertaining themselves with visual delights, unable to control those leptin levels and indulging themselves regardless of the enormous physical cost. To boot, ten dollars for a tuna sandwich.
Is there anything one can do about it? Maybe the airline should give out those night masks before you get on the plane. On a serious note, exercising self-control is a challenge that so many of us fail.
However, can we do something with the other side of the formula? How do we rev up the calories out portion? Can we increase our daily energy expenditure on a regular basis? We all have daily schedules and patterns. Can they be modified to include higher caloric use? A more profound question emerges: does this higher caloric use translate into real health benefits?
Let’s begin with the famous studies done in England in the 1950’s and 60’s comparing bus drivers of double decker buses to conductors who climb up and down the stairs. The more active conductors had half the incidence of heart disease. Landmark studies conducted by Dr. Ralph Paffenbarger, spanning his career, studying the effects of inactivity, obesity and heart disease showed a strong correlation between inactivity and heart disease. One study looked at the relationship between TV watching and markers for coronary heart disease. Spending hours in front of the tube, interrupted by getting up and going to the kitchen for beer and chips, may lead to eventual heart disease. Mother was right – TV is bad for you.
We spend too much time sitting. Take those activities that you normally would do sitting and do them standing. “Screen time” has increased exponentially in the last two decades. Time spent sitting in front of the computer, the TV and hand held devices makes up the majority of our waking hours. Use that phone standing up. It can double caloric output. Skip that spectator sports event and do that exercise yourself. Who knows? You may end up with the “bod” of that swimmer on TV.
One now classic study compared San Francisco factory workers in a five story building with no elevator. Those working on the top two floors had less heart disease and lived longer. The message is clear: find that stairwell and use it. Up and down. Never take an elevator or escalator 1-2 floors. Make it dogma.
Next up is walking.
For those who can walk to and from work the benefit is obvious. For others who need the car or train, make small alterations that go a long way. Park your car in the parking lot as far away from your destination. NEVER look for the closest parking spot.
Park a few blocks away from your destination. Need the train or bus, get off a stop before. Minimize emailing or texting a colleagues at work. Get up and speak to them. Walk to the theater or restaurant. Walk to the gym. Walk your children or grandchildren to school – the obesity epidemic has spread to them as well. Whenever you open that door and leave the house, ask the question- can I walk there? And back? Sure, it means spending time that can be used for other things. However, you are adding “time” down the “long road” ahead. Nothing is better than that.
Final message: calories in <CALORIES OUT
Next time: How to prepare for exercise? Coffee ok?