In a nutshell

Commentor caffeine over at Shapely Prose, in response to Kate’s post about a study claiming that the 30% of Caucasians with a genetic propensity to become fat can avoid putting on weight if they “just get three to four hours of moderate activity a day”.

That’s freaking insane. If I work 8 hours, and sleep 8 hours, and exercise for 4, and commute for 1 hour a day, that leaves me 3 hours a day for eating, hygiene, errands, hobbies, relaxation, pet care, and little things like seeing my husband and remaining sane.

Another commentor pointed out that a Hollywood actress who was lauded for getting her “pre-baby body back” confessed that it took her several months of working out for six hours a day to do so.

Six hours a day. With a newborn in the house needing interaction and stimulation.

But sure, there’s nothing at all unrealistic about these expectations, is there?



Categories: health

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11 replies

  1. I read that study at the time. What really stuck in my mind at the time was that this four hours of vigorous exercise every single day made a difference of ….. 6.8 kg.

  2. 3 – 4 hours a day? Obviously this has to come on top of any activity done while at work, and on top of any activity done while at home eg: house work and gardening because I can do two hours housework a day and still not lose weight. Lose sanity when I get to one end of the house and realise that the kids have been following me and re-making the chaos behind me as I go, but not lose weight. Maybe I need to be stepping into a separate dimension to get my 3-4 hours exercise.

  3. this four hours of vigorous exercise every single day made a difference of ….. 6.8 kg

    That’s all? Turning your life upside down to get that level of exercise just to be a little less generously upholstered?
    Doesn’t strike me as worth it.
    Exercise for general health levels, sure. But ramping it up several more hours a day just to not carry a bit of fatness around? Bugger that for a joke.

  4. “Teh evil fatness”. Work for you now? No, me either.

  5. Occasionally it strikes me that modern life really is fairly unnatural. Clearly no sane person with a life (let alone kids) has time for four hours’ exercise a day. But four hours a day is the average time spent getting food if you’re a hunter/gatherer, so it’s probably about the amount of moving around our bodies are adapted to.
    And yet, I spend about nine hours a day sitting in front of a computer, which I’m pretty sure I enjoy a whole lot more than I’d enjoy hunting/gathering (at least on an ongoing basis).
    I’m not quite sure what the point I’m trying to make here is, except that (a) sometimes I stop to think about the fact that we’re actually hairless apes, doing some pretty unlikely things that are fairly removed from the natural world, and it’s kind of freaky, and (b) it shouldn’t really be a surprise to anyone that if we give our bodies the sort of conditions they evolved in, we’ll probably be healthier – do more exercise and you’ll be fitter (although clearly not necessarily much thinner), eat the sort of foods we evolved eating and they will probably suit your digestive system better, etc.

  6. I think a more sensible option is probably suggest people a) eat less, b) eat vegetables and fruit instead of sugary and fatty food and c) get some moderate exercise if they are worried about people’s weight. I wonder if the 4 hrs exercise moves the fat around vital organs which is the real problem. Not much use if you are ‘thin’ but ‘fat on the inside’.
    I’m sure I read somewhere that the 30 mins of moderate exercise a day results in a weight loss of about 1.5kg over 12 months.

  7. When I was working as a hospital physio I was getting more like that 6 hours of moderate exercise a day – plenty of walking and lifting and stair-climbing.
    I was fit and strong but not thin. I wasn’t fat, but I was certainly approximately that 6.8 kg heavier than was entirely fashionable.
    I was very happy with my physique at the time. Being much more sedentary now clearly is not as health-boosting for me as that level of exercise was. But I was being paid for my constant physical activity then – my old neck injury means that I can no longer do the lifting thing to get paid for that sort of work, so what other sort of work can I do for a similar wage that is also physical? Nothing that I can see – other physical jobs are minimum wage, generally.

  8. Yup. When I was young, and doing 3 hours of moderate-to-heavy exercise a day (cycling, weights, martial arts training, squash, swimming), I was still fat. Fought superheavyweight, and weighed way more than 7 kg over so-called “ideal” weight.
    My aerobic fitness was above the 95%ile, but the gym trainers still tutted over my caliper test while I did 100 pushups without stopping.
    Being fatter and way less fit these days doesn’t make me any less of a worthwhile person, which is what the moral-healthists would have you believe.

  9. I think I am carrying that exact 6.5 over what my frame seems built to be. But you know…I can’t bring myself to care enough to do anything much about it…and I do love the term “generously upholstered”! Makes it sound comfy like it is. I sure as hell aint bothered enough to do four hours a freaking DAY for it. Unless my bosses do some kind of WiiFit Lawyers program. Don’t even *ask* me how you’d make that a fun game.

  10. Meh. I did 4 hours a day (and the rest, teenage girl that I was) and now my metabolism is shot. If I exercised 4 hours a day now I’d probably just get back to where I started. Still underweight, lucky me (as social benefits are incurred by those who swing closest to the impossible ideal), but still not the Patriarchy Approved body type. We can’t win, no matter what.

  11. There are two good posts over at TinyCatPants about this. The study Is apparently a pretty dense read, and doesn’t actually doesn’t make claims about how much exercise would be needed for those who have the genotypes that indicates an increased likelihood of obesity.
    What it does apparently say, is that there is a segment of people for whom smaller amounts of activity actually makes a significant difference, and then there are two genotypes that do show the same relationship, in that large amounts of intense physical activity can reduce the *likelihood* of being obese.
    That’s WAY different than “Hey exercise 3-4 hours a day”
    I’d actually check the second post though, I’m paraphrasing their reading of the article as I don’t have spare time to read it.

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