Wednesday, December 30, 2009

iPods for walking, and weight

In the nineties I listened to an 80-hour lecture series on tape with a Walkman, bringing it on walks.
And a couple of years ago, I listened to the collected works of Douglas Adams the same way, including the Hitchhiker radio plays as well as those books read by Douglas, and both Dirk Gently books (warmly recommended).

Today, under the Gibson post, Dave commented:
I prefer audio books as I can do other things. Got the idea from Stephen Fry, who shed the (significant amount of) weight he'd put on by walking, making the walking bearable by listening to audio books on his ipod. I thought that I would try that, and it works. You eat the miles without even realizing it.

Indeed. Books are bad for your activity level, but audiobooks can be the opposite. And I just bought several Gibson audiobooks, so I've started with the regimen again. Even on a cold evening like today, it's pleasurable for me.
Main downside is that even a short walk makes me very hot and sweaty. I wonder if I have a very active metabolism or what.

By the way, it seems the experts agree: excercise is for general health, not for losing weight. Simply because it makes you hungry. Exercise only makes you lose weight in extremely high doses, says my health guru. You lose weight by eating food high in nutrients and protein, and scaling down on foods high in fat and sugar. It's not very hard unless you have intense cravings. If you have those, it's an emotional issue.

Jan said:
What you write about exercise and weight rings true with me.
Still, sports does have some use, as much as I hate it:
"What you don't want is fat around your liver or heart, and this can happen even if you look fine on the outside. Dieting isn't what you need to shift this - it's exercise."
Prof. Jimmy Bell in “Fat neck a clue to heart risk”, BBC News.

Dr Pascal said:
I'm aware that, according to recent studies, exercise supposedly doesn't help lose weight AT ALL.
That's forgetting decades of empirical observation: NOT exercising helps make you fat. And you seldom get slimmer just from the effort of sitting on your fat ass!

Not to mention that the overall health benefits of reasonable physical exercise (again, almost anybody can walk, if they manage to fit it in their lifestyle) have indirect consequences on weight.
Remember: exercise causes the secretion of endorphins, improving one's sense of well-being, and very effectively thwarting the "reward-eating" mechanism of depressive mood. Also, when you're moving around, you're not snacking out of habit and driven by boredom.

posted by Eolake Stobblehouse @ Wednesday, December 30, 2009   18 comments links to this post

18 Comments:

At 30 Dec 2009 02:15:00, Blogger Alex said...

"including both the Hitchhiker radio plays"

Erm, pre 2007(or was it 2006) there were two seasons of radio show, 6 episodes in one, 5 in the other and one special episode in between. Recently there were three more radio series.

There are also LP productions for Hitchhiker and Life, the Universe and Everything, then talking books for all the book series.

I don't know where you get "both HH radio plays", implying two only.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 02:32:00, Blogger ttl said...

A brisk 30–45 min walk burns about 200 kcal. If you take a walk daily, you will shed 0.5 kg of weight every 18 days, or about 10 kg in a year.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 02:49:00, Blogger eolake said...

Yes, but it makes you more hungry.

(It's still a good idea for health.)

Alex, the "both" goes for the plays and the books.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 02:52:00, Blogger Alex said...

We're back to needing a stricter language to obviate ambiguity.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 03:00:00, Blogger eolake said...

This should be clearer:
"I listened to the collected works of Douglas Adams the same way, including the Hitchhiker radio plays as well as those books read by Douglas, and both Dirk Gently books (warmly recommended)."

 
At 30 Dec 2009 03:16:00, Blogger ttl said...

Yes, but it makes you more hungry.

I don't understand what you mean by this. Are you saying that if you take a 30–45 min walk, you will eat 200 kcal more that day?

I certainly don't, and have had no inclination to. I've found taking daily walks a very easy way to shed weight. Now; it is not a particularly fast way, of course, for 0.8 kg or so per month is not very much, but I would be very surprised if it didn't work for absolutely everyone.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 03:24:00, Blogger eolake said...

"Are you saying that if you take a 30–45 min walk, you will eat 200 kcal more that day?"

Pretty much. Surely not exactly, but it seems that way to me.
(I'll try and get a word from my guru in such matters.)

 
At 30 Dec 2009 03:25:00, Blogger ttl said...

I forgot to mention that even simple walks build muscle—on the legs, pelvis and stomach. Again, it takes weeks, but I've noticed this very clearly on myself.

The added muscle increases metabolism and thus makes you burn more calories/day. What this means is that it doesn't matter even if you eat a little more after your walks. You will still shed weight over time.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 03:29:00, Blogger eolake said...

Makes sense. I'm no expert. But I heard this, and I specifically asked my "guru" and friend, John, who is one, and he confirmed it.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 03:39:00, Blogger ttl said...

Come to think of it, I have no way to tell for sure what biochemical process it is that is causing the weight loss. The consumed calories and increased metabolism are just the prevailing theories. And I do not measure my intake/consumption of calories.

However, what I do know with 100% certainty is that whenever I've maintained the daily walking habit for long periods of time, I have lost pretty much the exact predicted 0.8 kg per month. And everyone I've talked about this have reported the same thing.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 03:44:00, Blogger eolake said...

Fair enough.

It's true there's often too much certainty about theories. There are such people (particularly young ones) who seem able to eat anything in any amount without gaining weight, and I haven't heard any explanation of that.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 07:40:00, Blogger TC [Girl] said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 30 Dec 2009 07:42:00, Blogger TC [Girl] said...

Eolake said...
"There are such people (particularly young ones) who seem able to eat anything in any amount without gaining weight, and I haven't heard any explanation of that."

It's about how your body metabolizes your intake and manages its insulin, etc. That's a HUGE part of it.

PROUD of you, BTW, Eo! GOOD JOB!! You INSPIRE me!! :-)

 
At 31 Dec 2009 03:35:00, Anonymous Jan said...

What you write about exercise and weight rings true with me.
Still, sports does have some use, as much as I hate it:

"What you don't want is fat around your liver or heart, and this can happen even if you look fine on the outside. Dieting isn't what you need to shift this - it's exercise."
Prof. Jimmy Bell in “Fat neck a clue to heart risk”, BBC News, 12/03/2009 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/7935635.stm

 
At 1 Jan 2010 01:38:00, Blogger Pascal [P-04referent] said...

A bit late in noticing this, but I thought "the good Doctor" might pitch in with a few brief (yes! believe it!) remarks:

"I wonder if I have a very active metabolism or what."
Sounds likely to me. Baseline metabolism is regulated by our hormones, especially those of the thyroid, which is far more active in the cold season (takes a few weeks for full adjustment to occur, and samely when warm season kicks in). But everybody's individual baseline level is genetically determined.
Of course, our lifestyle also plays a significant role.
Some people will unwittingly torment others by saying "whatever I eat, I never seem to take on any weight". That's not 100% guaranteed, you can always get fat if you try hard enough, but indeed some people tend to burn their extra calories, while other tend to stock them.
My conclusion: we all must make do with the hand we were dealt. Some have to make extra efforts. That's unfair, but... sometimes vitally necessary.

Secondly, it IS true that exercise increases your appetite. Proportionately. EXERCISE IS NOT FATTENING!!! But ponder this, Pinky: if you can lose weight or stop gaining any by adjusting what you eat, you can just as efficiently, maybe even more, lose weight by adjusting what you eat when exercise increases your appetite! Perhaps stating the obvious was necessary?
What Eolake wrote was well summarized: REDUCE fat and sugar, but remember your body does need some "healthy" lipids. Mainly, essential unsaturated fatty acids. In layman's terms: "eat healthy". Fruits and veggies bring you plenty of vitamins and minerals and trace elements. Nuts also: wallnuts are high in lipids, but I deem them very, VERY healthy, save for the most extreme metabolic imbalances.

BTW, eggs are "high in cholesterol", but all's relative. Two-thirds of our NEEDS in cholesterol (did you know it's vital to our metabolism?) are synthetized by the body -from glucose!-, only the rest comes directly from our food. Eggs are a very good source of proteins... in reasonable quantities of course. Same for milk: a very healthy aliment overall. Use your better judgement, is all.

Finally, "reward eating" has been proven as being one of the main causing factors in obesity, along with poor quality choices. Remember: depressed people tend to either lose weight from anorexia, or quite often GAIN weight from comforting themselves through compulsive eating, often unconsciously.
Especially if you consider that we naturally enjoy the most those foods with sugar or fat. Again, blame the genes.

Oh, and yes, moderate but easily sustained aerobic exercise is ideal, and walking is *perfect* for anybody who can walk.
I love walking. Doesn't feel like effort, but it still is! :-)

That's all. Rather brief, considering the masses I (and others) usually write on such topics.
But the rest has already been discussed lengthily on this very blog, so... this is a one-post comment! :-)

 
At 1 Jan 2010 01:58:00, Blogger Pascal [P-04referent] said...

Addendum: I'm aware that, according to recent studies, exercise supposedly doesn't help lose weight AT ALL.
That's forgetting decades of empirical observation: NOT exercising helps make you fat. And you seldom get slimmer just from the effort of sitting on your fat ass!

Not to mention that the overall health benefits of reasonable physical exercise (again, almost anybody can walk, if they manage to fit it in their lifestyle) have indirect consequences on weight.
Remember: exercise causes the secretion of endorphins, improving one's sense of well-being, and very effectively thwarting the "reward-eating" mechanism of depressive mood. Also, when you're moving around, you're not snacking out of habit and driven by boredom.

Of course, INTENSIVE sports aren't "all that". I've already blogged nearly 2 years ago about the dangers of extreme sports. I'll add that many pro athletes, when they retire, can turn obese from both the sudden STOP in physical activity (isn't this called "ab contrario proof"?), and from a literal "withdrawal syndrome", similar to repented smokers or drug addicts, when their hard training endorphins brutally drop, causing a withdrawal/depressive syndrome. Typically compensated through eating.
It's not systematic, but check out the former sports celebrities you knew 10 or 20 years ago, and make inventory of some of the very visible damage.
As in pro wrestling, foe example. Impressive muscle men later displaying a "sizeable" gut belly.

Everything with moderation, my friends...

 
At 1 Jan 2010 02:04:00, Blogger Pascal [P-04referent] said...

P.S.: When I was in my hospital internships, always walking/running around, and getting little rest/sleep, I was always hungry. I also never gained any weight, in spite of eating as much as I damn well liked! Extra appetite only compensates the extra energy expense... and only if you don't have any reserves to burn.

The body is a very smart machine. Too bad its decisions are often taken by a very stupid boss.

"Man in intrinsically good, by nature. It is Society that corrupts us." (Jean-Jacques Rousseau)
Society... and junk-TV!

 
At 1 Jan 2010 02:18:00, Blogger Pascal [P-04referent] said...

No, this isn't a multi-part post! I just think of several new items to mention afterwards. (Surely it's not the same?)

Anyway, TC citing insulin made me realize I'd better explain a bit about hormones:
Insulin, Glucagon and Cortisol (mainly) regulate our use of glucose and how we stock/burn it.
But thyroid hormones determine our entire baseline metabolism, cellular activity, in a slow-change manner (that system has high inertia, about 6-7 weeks).
Our thyroid is a lot more active in the cold season, simply because we need our cells to automatically produce more body heat. This is why, by the middle or end of a season, we're much more used to cold or hot temperatures than in the first few weeks of significant weather change.
In hedgehogs, the difference in thyroid activity can vary tenfold...
Did you know that all vertebrates, including fish, have a thyroid?

 

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