5

votes

How important is total energy expenditure for our health?

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created November 07, 2011 at 9:00 PM

We know hunter-gatherers (and most other traditional living people) have/had a high total energy expenditure. This means they were physically active a lot.

For most people working in the office (or doing similar low activity jobs), even if they have a couple of strength and sprint workouts, total energy expenditure is relatively low. There we have a mismatch!

I generally agree that a few intense workouts are all we need to get very physically fit. But besides being fit, does the total amount of phycial activity matter, even if it is low intensity?

Do you think this matters?

Do you think this influences what we should eat? What you can eat?

Any thoughts?

Thanks.

E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 09, 2011
at 11:37 AM

homo wut?! XD I think we can learn what makes us human by studying the animal

9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on November 09, 2011
at 10:37 AM

Upvote for another reason to eat tons of food.

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 09, 2011
at 08:01 AM

Loilo, isn't this paleohacks for homo sapiens? Or has Patrick allowed panthera leo too?

Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 08, 2011
at 09:00 PM

Agreed . Trying to exercise yourself out of a bad diet is generally a losing proposion. Those who seem to be able to get away with it typically have genetics that make it hard for them to gain weight anyway, so it is an error to assume that the exercise they do is causal. Sometimes these individuals eventually destroy their metabolisms and gain weight as they get older regardless of their activity. Excessive exercise also contributes to general wear and tear that can lead to injuries and layoffs which further exacerbates the problem. I would rather eat well and exercise for health purposes.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on November 08, 2011
at 02:05 AM

I would consider having to lug around bags full of groceries to and from the market a weightlifting session!

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:10 AM

I agree if you mean this....health and longevity are attributes of low level consistent movement primarily due to those things you list in the first two sentences....Those benefits IMO have very very little to do with energy expenditure as offsetting poor eating habits with this type (or just about any type ) of "exercise" would be fairly futile.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:07 AM

I would say consistent low level movement being associated with increased health and longevity has much more to do with the reasons listed in sentence 1 and 2 here along with the neurological cascade that results from movement to the brain and subsequent response ....and very very little to do with energy expenditure.

3193ead7a301b741aafa193c4476edea

(213)

on November 07, 2011
at 09:38 PM

Great question!

Cf32992bfa1907147c7cdc451bba9c63

(2890)

on November 07, 2011
at 09:05 PM

Yes it is important. Look up the longshoreman studies, they're relevant. They found the manual laborers lived longer than management and attributed it to physical labor.

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6 Answers

3
Medium avatar

on November 07, 2011
at 10:13 PM

More activity means we can eat more food with less fat deposition. We should endeavor to be more active than our ancestors and therefore eat more food than they did because our food is nutrient-poor compared to theirs.

A sedentary lifestyle is indefensible.

9ffe43c6c5990ed710c7c49b12d6ee7f

on November 09, 2011
at 10:37 AM

Upvote for another reason to eat tons of food.

2
42f31d2df6a59f40845020e3ffd70394

on November 07, 2011
at 11:47 PM

I think your correct in recognising that our shortest, most intense exercise has the greatest effect on body composition.

In terms of overall movement, it seems to be an essential part of life, but I think its greatest impact is not on our level of body fat, but on our overall quality of life. I recently watched this TED talk http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_buettner_how_to_live_to_be_100.html chronicling some of the longest living populations in the world. Most of these cultures were moving their bodies a great deal on a daily basis, but very few if any of them, were doing anything we would consider to be "exercise". I think walking and other low-level movements should be sought after to improve mood, length and quality of life, not to burn calories or allow us to eat more.

I also came across another TED talk recently that made the point that the only reason we have brains in the first place is because of our high level of movement. He gave the example of an organism that consumes its own brain first thing once it attaches to another organism where it no longer has to move for the rest of its existence. So at the very least it appears that movement can keep us from using our own brains as a fuel source.

From a personal, n=1 viewpoint, I feel better and it seems like I can get away with an extra snack or piece of fruit if I am moving around more, but not in significant quantities.

1
E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 09, 2011
at 01:06 AM

Eat more, move more? nonsense: The lion doesn't give a fk. I say More sleeping, less working. So I'm a lion: Eat big, and let the woman do the hard work. (ok, that doesn't sound right, sorry)

89e238284ccb95b439edcff9e123671e

(10299)

on November 09, 2011
at 08:01 AM

Loilo, isn't this paleohacks for homo sapiens? Or has Patrick allowed panthera leo too?

E167c0387a5f0b87bb1f2c3e6aec73a8

(1240)

on November 09, 2011
at 11:37 AM

homo wut?! XD I think we can learn what makes us human by studying the animal

1
3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:15 AM

Basically I dont agree that energy expenditure is the reason this lifestyle promotes health. Its much more about the attributes this sort of movements has on various other systems including first and foremost the neurological feedback loops and subsequent hormonal cascades that lead to better health. Then and also the effects mentions by FED in his first two sentences.

1
27361737e33ba2f73ab3c25d2699ad61

(1880)

on November 08, 2011
at 12:24 AM

Excellent points Andrew. My 97 year old plus relatives in Italy walked. That's it -- walked. Oh, and they did the stairs a lot by necessity because they had to -- no elevators in the old buildings and lots of stairs just walking around town. And they shopped daily for fresh food. They were independent until they died. No rotting away in nursing homes. But no exercise as in lifting weights or running etc. I wouldn't discourage exercise if someone loves it -- my 90 year old mother in law plays tennis every week - but on the other hand -- she's needed a knee replaced and has hip pain galore. My 90 year old father in law walks every morning and swims or takes a gentle bike ride to the store -- no arthritis or joint pain at all. No meds at all. He laughs that all his jock friends have joint replacements or are in pain all the time. Of course he has a much younger wife so maybe that also keeps him happy and pain free.

1d0497f8781845ab371b479455bfee8e

(11157)

on November 08, 2011
at 02:05 AM

I would consider having to lug around bags full of groceries to and from the market a weightlifting session!

1
Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 07, 2011
at 11:57 PM

The spine (spinal disks particularly), the digestive system, the bones, and the circulatory system all require the mechanical forces generated by movement in order to operate efficiently. This does not even take into account the hormonal cascades, and mental/emotional/psychological states stimulated by exercise. So, there is absolutely a certain amount of movement required, but it is specific to the individual and I don't think that we can quantify it as "You must burn X calories per day to be healthy."

The notion of "calories" is an example of our attempt at simplifying a complex process into single factor (similar to how we reduce the sum of a companies impact into one number, their stock price) so I think that we would be better served by looking at lifestyle patterns (work, sleep, stress, recreation, and rest), nutrient profiles, and social factors when considering "health".

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:07 AM

I would say consistent low level movement being associated with increased health and longevity has much more to do with the reasons listed in sentence 1 and 2 here along with the neurological cascade that results from movement to the brain and subsequent response ....and very very little to do with energy expenditure.

3846a3b61bc9051e4baebdef62e58c52

(18635)

on November 08, 2011
at 01:10 AM

I agree if you mean this....health and longevity are attributes of low level consistent movement primarily due to those things you list in the first two sentences....Those benefits IMO have very very little to do with energy expenditure as offsetting poor eating habits with this type (or just about any type ) of "exercise" would be fairly futile.

Medium avatar

(19479)

on November 08, 2011
at 09:00 PM

Agreed . Trying to exercise yourself out of a bad diet is generally a losing proposion. Those who seem to be able to get away with it typically have genetics that make it hard for them to gain weight anyway, so it is an error to assume that the exercise they do is causal. Sometimes these individuals eventually destroy their metabolisms and gain weight as they get older regardless of their activity. Excessive exercise also contributes to general wear and tear that can lead to injuries and layoffs which further exacerbates the problem. I would rather eat well and exercise for health purposes.

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