[ Watch the Video: If You’re Binging At Christmas, Get Plenty Of Exercise ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
Scientists writing in The Journal of Physiology say that exercise lessens many of the harmful physiological effects that take place after Christmas binge eating.
Previous studies have shown that even a few days of eating more calories than you burn can cause detrimental health impacts, making the holidays a tough time for the tummy. However, this new study counters this thought, showing that a daily bout of exercise generates vast physiological benefits even when consuming thousands of calories more than you burn.
“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,” James Betts, one of the researchers from The University of Bath, said in a statement.
The team found that after just one week of overeating, people being monitored for the study showed poor blood sugar control and their fat cells were expressing genes that lead to unhealthy metabolic changes and disrupted nutritional balance. However, the negative effects due to these short bursts of binge eating were markedly less for those who were exercising.
During the study, 26 healthy young men were asked to be generally inactive in their daily activities. Half of the men were asked to exercise daily on a treadmill for 45 minutes, and everyone involved in the study was asked to overeat. The non-exercising group increased their caloric intake by 50 percent, while the exercising group increased it by 75 percent.
“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,” Jean-Philippe Walhin, a researcher on the study, said in a statement.
Dr Dylan Thompson, senior author on the paper, talked about how one of the features from the team’s study was critical.
“A critical feature of our experiment is that we matched the energy surplus between groups – so the exercise group consumed even more energy and were still better off at the end of the week,” Thompson said.
After a week, the study participants had blood insulin measurements and biopsies of fat tissue taken, which led to some striking results. The non-exercising group showed a significant and unhealthy decline in their blood sugar control, and their fat cells were over expressing genes linked to unhealthy metabolic changes and were under-expressing genes involved in well-functioning metabolism. However, the men who were asked to exercise had stable blood sugar levels and their fat cells showed less “undesirable” genetic expression.
“Short-term overfeeding and reduced physical activity had a dramatic impact on the overall metabolic health of the participants and on various key genes within fat tissue – and exercise prevented these negative changes even though energy was still being stored,” said Walhin.
Thompson suggests that if someone is facing a period of overconsumption and inactivity, then they should consider a daily bout of exercise to prevent the many negative changes that take place.