Slim is actually harmful to your health

sport and health : Why exercise doesn't make you slim

Anyone who does sport regularly will know the problem. You overcome yourself, toil in the gym or on the cinder track - and when you take the next step on the scales you realize that everything was apparently in vain. It always means that you have to move around a lot if you want to lose weight. Actually, that's a truism. But it is doubtful that you can really work off those pounds by cycling, jogging and lifting weights.

Studies suggest that while exercise helps you lose weight, it is nowhere near enough to actually melt the fat. There are several reasons for this. One is the amazingly economical energy consumption of the body in motion. Anyone who walks 56 kilometers a week quickly loses just 500 grams during this time, while at 32 kilometers it is only 3.5 kilograms after eight months. These are the numbers given by the German Society for Sports Medicine and Prevention. "Losing weight through sport and physical activity alone is time-consuming and arduous," says Herbert Löllgen, President of the Society. "If you want to lose weight, you have to stick to a diet, drastically reduce your calories and also be regularly active in sports."

Maybe it helps to convert fat into muscle, because muscles also consume more calories (actually kilocalories) when you are resting. But the difference is small, as researchers from Columbia University in New York found. A little pound of muscle burns six calories, and the same amount of fat burns two. If you replace almost five kilograms of fat with muscle through hard training, you can eat an additional 40 calories per day - a teaspoon of butter.

Mankind spent most of his existence as hunters and gatherers, as a creature who restlessly roams the savannah. Modern man's break with this past could hardly be greater. Civilization has turned homo movens into homo sedens, a sedentary office creature that plans and actually celebrates rare moments of exercise in the gym in detail. It is therefore natural to see the indolence of the present as a reason for overweight and obesity. But this obvious assumption may be as misleading as the belief in exercise as a slimming agent.

The small hunter-gatherer tribe of the Hadza live in Tanzania in southeastern Africa. They spend a large part of the day wandering around in search of edible plants and game. A life like in the Stone Age, the ideal counterpart to the western seated people. American researchers put the test to the test and were surprised to find that the restless hunters and gatherers have almost the same calorie consumption as people in western industrialized nations.

"The results show how complicated the energy balance is," says Herman Pontzer from Hunter College in New York, one of the scientists involved. "It not only simply reflects physical activity, our metabolic rate reflects our common evolutionary past rather than our various modern lifestyles." According to the researchers, the increase in obesity in industrialized nations is more due to increased food intake than lower calorie consumption due to the sedentary lifestyle.

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