Just Do It (I)

September 10th, 2008 | Sources: JAMA, Reuters

Still can’t get off the couch? Two studies published this week (covered in this post and the next) might get you going, as they provide fresh evidence regarding the benefits of physical activity.

In the first one, investigators studied a group of Amish people who had particularly potent genetic versions of an obesity-producing gene known as FTO. The gene is common in people of European descent.

Was it their fate to be overweight? Actually, no.

The investigators categorized the group by activity level, and found that those who were very physically active (farmers, for example) weighed the same as those without the gene. Those in the least active category were overweight or obese most of the time. Exercise trumped the obesity gene!

The active group burned about 900 calories per day more than the sedentary group, which is the equivalent of walking 3-4 hours per day. That’s not going to be possible for many people. Nevertheless, the investigators called for more bike paths, better public transportation systems and private sector initiatives that would foster increased physical activity on a broad scale.


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