Love of the couch is not causing obesity

caveman wiggling his toes on the couchThe health gurus like to blame our “love of the couch” for the current obesity epidemic.

Move more vigorously and all will be well……. but will it ?

The love of the couch is not so new

The soft couch, with plush valveteen cushions which allow you to sink down and become enveloped in a spongy bliss, may be a pretty new phenomenon, but man has been lounging on “couches” for a pretty long time.

So lounging about is definitely not something new. What is NEW, is the option to lounge for hours and still have something stimulating to do, which is what watching TV can do for you.

A team from Hunter College in New York City ventured out of the city, to quantify how much lounging about, happened in people still living a traditional hunter-gatherer lifestyle.

A tradition of lounging

The city boys packed their bags and accelerometers and flew a few thousand miles, to sit on the couch of the Hadza chief.

The Hadza tribe live in the open savannah of northern Tanzania, what makes this group of people very special is that they are hunter-gatherers. Old school, hunter-gatherers which requires more effort than pulling up at the supermarket and then hunting up and down the shelves and gathering the groceries in a trolley.

As old school hunter-gatherers, eating requires trekking around the savannah, often for days until you find something to kill (hunt) or pick up (gather).

Gathering is not so hard

The city slickers slapped on accelerometers and documented just how much trekking was being done, to get dinner on the table.

The results were a BIG SURPRISE.

Despite spending their days trekking long distances to forage for wild plants and game, the Hadza burned no more calories each day, than adults in the U.S. and Europe i.e. modern man the certified COUCH POTATO.

Hadza hunter-gatherers were not super charged SPRING HARES, moving and grooving into a state of physically active nirvana – their daily energy expenditure, was indistinguishable from that of the average Westerner.

Moving more over rated

So the reason western man is packing on the pounds, is not because of too much time lounging on the couch. And exercising like a demon, is not necessarily going to fix the extra pound problem.

Obesity is more to do with increased food consumption and less to do with decreased energy expenditure.

Moving much, more important

Fitness is definitely beneficial and mother nature has thankfully provided us with a little incentive to get off that couch.

The one moving thing that the Hazda did, which was a little different from the average Westerner, is they moved more often i.e. they spent more of their day moving.

So hunkering down to watch a marathon session of TV, even if it is after a BIG gym workout, could be contributing to health troubles. It’s the sitting which is the no no.

Couching around

So forget BOOT CAMP and don’t throw out the couch, just find more physically engaging activities to do on the couch.

It doesn’t necessarily have to be X-rated activity, but when you flop into the couch, make sure you’re at least wiggling your toes ….

Hunter-Gatherer Energetics and Human Obesity. PLoS ONE, 2012; 7 (7): e40503Herman Pontzer, David A. Raichlen, Brian M. Wood, Audax Z. P. Mabulla, Susan B. Racette, Frank W. Marlowe. 

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Further reading

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Don’t run around the block three times just run for the bus How to juice up the heart battery so it pumps in a crisis The overweight should exercise less to burn more fat

The 7 Big Spoons™…. are master switches that turn health on.

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Balance Eicosanoids Rein in insulin Dial down stress Sleep ! Increase Vit D Culivate microflora Think champion

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