Stop Walking to Gain Belly Fat

As regular readers of my blog know, I love walking (at least when I have to!).

To find out how important walking actually is to help control your weight, apparently all you need to do is stop.

This was exactly what Rasmus Olsen and colleagues from the University of Copenhagen convinced 18 healthy male subjects to do. Participants were instructed to reduce daily steps by using elevators instead of stairs and riding in cars instead of walking or bicycling while maintaining their habitual food intake (JAMA, March 19).

The first set of eight men decreased their pedometer recorded daily steps from a mean value of 6,203 to 1,394 over 22 days. The second set of ten men decreased their mean daily steps from 10,501 to 1,344 over 2 weeks.

While body weight was not reported for the first eight men, they had a marked rise in insulin area-under-the-curve (AUC) following the glucose tolerance test (interpreted as reduced insulin sensitivity).

But even more interestingly, in the second group, although BMI DECREASED(!) from 22.1 to 21.8, intra-abdominal (visceral) fat INCREASED by 7% (as measured by MRI). Lean body mass (as measured by DEXA) decreased by 1.2 Kg while both the insulin and triglyceride response to the tolerance tests were adversely affected.

Not bad for just two weeks of not walking! And these were healthy lean young men to start with – my guess is that the effects in older overweight folks would be even more dramatic.

So why spend money at McDonalds? Just walking less will “supersize” your abdomen as nicely.

Edmonton, Alberta