Being A Short Term Couch Potato is Dangerous

September 10, 2018

References: ProverbsDiabetologica

 You have to know where I'm coming from. A childhood memorizing Bible verses had its share of Proverbs. And the term "Sloth" was never a good thing. You could argue that the foundation of our Puritanical work heritage is the avoidance of the appearance of sloth. It's in the book of Proverbs 9 times. Then came binge TV watching and the opening of the NFL season, and March Madness and whatever, (Reruns of .....Mash?) and we descend into a temporary state of stupor. We become couch potatoes. Slothful. No exercise. King Solomon would have gone nuts over couch potatoes. Was he right? 

Is it bad for us? Horrible! This week's referenced study in Diabetologica took 45 habitually active adults, average age 36, with or without close relatives with adult-onset diabetes and had them reduce their exercise dramatically for 14 days (10,000 steps a day to 1,500). They then resumed their normally active lives. At the end of their "slothlike" period and again upon resuming activity their body fat composition by DEXA scan was performed as well as glucose sensitivity measurements. The data is not pretty. It's not good to be slothful. Both groups decreased exercise by 81% and increased couch time by 3.5 hours a day. Pooling data from both groups, following the step reduction there was a decrease in whole-body insulin sensitivity, muscle insulin sensitivity index, cardiorespiratory fitness and lower limb lean mass. 

Further, there was a significant increase in total body fat, liver fat and LDL-cholesterol. Of course LDLs went up. LDLs are the extra fats you are shipping from your fatty liver to your fat cells. Voila. In the twinkling of an eye, metabolic syndrome. And that's the first step to becoming diabetic, in fact. After resuming normal exercise there were significant between-group differences: following step reduction, those participants with diabetic relatives accumulated 1.5% more tummy fat and increased more triglycerides. After resuming normal activity, those participants with diabetic relatives engaged in lower amounts of vigorous activity and had lower muscle insulin sensitivity. 

They didn't recover as fast, or as completely. What does this mean? It's heavy. Exercise, even just walking, cleans up your metabolism markedly. Not, there's the rub. Not exercising is the trigger for all that ails us. Metabolic syndrome, which none of the study participants developed, in the strictest terms didn't happen because the study was only 14 days long. It starts in small steps, like a weekend of NFL football. How about a weekend of Starwars movies! And then gets worse as we get into "slothful" lifestyle patterns of prolonged sedentary behavior. If you have diabetic relatives, it may be because they don't exercise quite as much, or are a teeny bit fatter, or eat a teeny bit more sugar.....but more exercise will help them. Like most research, the authors say, "Larger studies....." That's hooey. You know what you need to do. 

 www.What will work for me? I've had a two-year siege getting my broken ankle better. I finally got up to 5 miles at a clip and went on the hiking club hike this last weekend. The weather celebrated by pouring rain on us. I'm finally back to better walking. This study is a signature study. In exquisite biological detail, it lays out the benefits of getting your butt off the couch, and the dangers of keeping it there. First, I ruin booze. Now I ruin the couch. What's left for Sunday afternoon? 

  Pop Quiz

  1. It's good to take a sabbatical and Sabbath and relax once in a while. T or F           Answer: Of course that's true. Get your sabbatical on the walk around the lake, not in the TV schedule.
  2. Every single one of us gets some evidence of damage by prolonged sedentary activity. T or F Answer: True as true can be. It only takes two weeks of simply doing the activities of daily living to bring it on. Getting into your car and walking from the parking lot to your desk job doesn't count as exercise.
  3. If you start to exercise, you can reverse it all? T or F                                        Answer: That's the good news. True. If you have family with diabetes or are diabetic yourself, it may take longer but every step helps and contributes to repair.
  4. Fatty liver happens more if you don't exercise? T or F                                     Answer: Yup and about 50% of Americans have it
  5. What's the most prominent piece of furniture in your living room?              Answer..............