Daily exercise lessens many of the harmful physiological effects of short-term overeating and inactivity, shows a new study [published 15 December] in The Journal of Physiology, which is well timed with the Christmas holiday approaching.
Earlier studies have found that even a few days of energy surplus where you consume more calories than you burn brings detrimental health impacts. This new study shows that a daily bout of exercise generates vast physiological benefits even when you consume thousands of calories more than you are burning. Exercise clearly does a lot more than simply reduce the energy surplus.
James Betts, one of the researchers from The University of Bath, says: "This new research shows that the picture is more sophisticated than 'energy' alone: exercise has positive effects even when we are actively storing energy and gaining weight."
After just one week of overeating, people being monitored showed poor blood sugar control and their fat cells were expressing genes that lead to unhealthy metabolic changes and disrupted nutritional balance. However, these negative effects were markedly less in those who were exercising.
Jean-Philippe Walhin, a researcher on the study, says: "Our research demonstrates that a short period of overconsumption and reduced physical activity leads to very profound negative changes in a variety of physiological systems but that a daily bout of exercise stops most of these negative changes from taking place."
In the study, 26 healthy young men were asked to be generally inactive in their daily activities. Half of the group then exercised daily on a treadmill for 45 minutes. Everyone was asked to overeat: the non-exercising group increased their caloric intake by 50 per cent, whilst the exercising group increased by 75 per cent, so everyone's net daily energy surplus was the same.
Dr Dylan Thompson, senior author on the paper, says:
"A critical feature
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