Incidentally, fat grows more from underdoing than from overeating. Scientific studies at universities all over the world show that it is almost a universal phenomenon - most people, stout or slim, eat about the same quantities: between 2300 and 3000 calories per day. Significantly, the same studies concluded that fat people exercise much less than normal people. Those who take life sitting down often argue that exercising is a waste of time. They could say that you have to walk 56 km to erase around 500 grams of fat. What they forget, conveniently or through ignorance, is the cumulative effect of exercise.
One need not walk 10 to 11 hours at a stretch to bum off that pound. One could spread the same distance over a few days to achieve the same results. Truly, the great joumey to good health begins with a single stepaction. Then there are others who say exercising is counterproductive.
''The more you exercise, the more you'd eat," they say in apparent resignation. Researchers recognise the truth of this statement - but only partially. They have found that an active person's appetite increases when he exercises. But on the other hand, a sedentary person's appetite actually decreases when he begins to move it. We can personally attest to this truth. We ate much more, say 10 years ago, when we were part of the desk-bound scene, than we do today.
Yes, fitness has saved us as much from our otherwise obese selves, as it has cut down our restaurant bills and the tailor's alteration charges. A belttightening exercise that has literally paid out with additional spin-offs in the realms of physiology and psychology. But to come back to the subject. Fitness is too big a field to be left to dieticians alone.
For when you go in only for the one course way, you indiscriminately lose bone, organ, tissue, muscle along with the fat. You could also look 'saggier' with tell-tale stretchlines to show for your efforts - or rather the lack of them. A study carried out by Bill Zuti and Lawrence Golding bears this out. Their programme involved 25 women, all between 25 and 40 years of age, and 9 to 18 kg overweight. The group was divided into three disciplines for weight control.
Eight women were put on a diet that brought down their calories in-flow by 500 per day. Nine ate normally, but increased their physical activity to bum off 500 calories every day. And the last eight cut down their intake by 250 calories and increased their activity to consume the same amount of calories per day.
The tests were conducted over a 16-week period. And every woman was tested before and after the test period for body weight, body density, skinfold, girth measurement and selected blood lipids (fats). The test showed no great difference in the three modes of weight loss. The mean was a weight loss of 5 kg per person in all three groups. Where the methods differed were in area of body composition. The women in the exercise and exercise-diet groups showed significant losses in body fat not muscle tissue.
The former shed more body fat than the dieting group without losing muscle tissue. The same study also underlined the fact that the group that was into exercising developed more stamina because their cardiovascular systems were worked out while exercising. In short it offered conclusive evidence that incorporation of exercise in a weight-loss programme is far superior to mere dieting when it boils down to body composition and physical fitness. That it emphasises and enhances your natural shape. Madhushree Sapre was aware of this much before she won the Miss India title and finished third in the Miss Universe sweepstakes.
About a week before she won her national title, she told us, "when I am in a swimsuit, I can tell the difference between me and the other girls." -And we knew, even then, that she wasn't bragging. Merely telling us a fitness fact. Sapre, a former athlete tumed fashion model whose twin careers have been anchored by exercise, is flesh-and-blood proof that the race is not just to the swiftest. But to the fittest.
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