The Role of Free-Living Daily Walking in Human Weight Gain and Obesity

Endocrine Research Unit, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, MN 55905, USA.
Diabetes (Impact Factor: 8.1). 03/2008; 57(3):548-54. DOI: 10.2337/db07-0815
Source: PubMed


Diminished daily physical activity explains, in part, why obesity and diabetes have become worldwide epidemics. In particular, chair use has replaced ambulation, so that obese individuals tend to sit for approximately 2.5 h/day more than lean counterparts. Here, we address the hypotheses that free-living daily walking distance is decreased in obesity compared with lean subjects and that experimental weight gain precipitates decreased daily walking.
During weight-maintenance feeding, we measured free-living walking using a validated system that captures locomotion and body movement for 10 days in 22 healthy lean and obese sedentary individuals. These measurements were then repeated after the lean and obese subjects were overfed by 1,000 kcal/day for 8 weeks.
We found that free-living walking comprises many (approximately 47) short-duration (<15 min), low-velocity ( approximately 1 mph) walking bouts. Lean subjects walked 3.5 miles/day more than obese subjects (n = 10, 10.3 +/- 2.5 vs. n = 12, 6.7 +/- 1.8 miles/day; P = 0.0009). With overfeeding, walking distance decreased by 1.5 miles/day compared with baseline values (-1.5 +/- 1.7 miles/day; P = 0.0005). The decrease in walking that accompanied overfeeding occurred to a similar degree in the lean (-1.4 +/- 1.9 miles/day; P = 0.04) and obese (-1.6 +/- 1.7 miles/day; P = 0.008) subjects.
Walking is decreased in obesity and declines with weight gain. This may represent a continuum whereby progressive increases in weight are associated with progressive decreases in walking distance. By identifying walking as pivotal in weight gain and obesity, we hope to add credence to an argument for an ambulatory future.

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Available from: Chinmay Manohar
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    • "Indirectly, several studies suggest that, with overfeeding, physical activity levels decrease. For example, in an elegant study, Levine and colleagues [71] showed that overfeeding both lean and obese human subjects 1,000 kcal/day above their weight maintenance needs resulted in significant decreases in free-living walking in both groups. Schmidt et al. [72] directly measured spontaneous physical activity levels (i.e., NEAT) in obesity-prone and obesity-resistant individuals and observed decreases in spontaneous physical activity in the obesity-prone individuals three days after overfeeding (but not in obesity-resistant individuals). "
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    ABSTRACT: The literature strongly suggests that daily physical activity is genetically and biologically regulated. Potential identities of the responsible mechanisms are unclear, but little has been written concerning the possible evolutionary selection pressures leading to the development of genetic/biological controls of physical activity. Given the weak relationship between exercise endurance and activity levels and the differential genomic locations associated with the regulation of endurance and activity, it is probable that regulation of endurance and activity evolved separately. This hypothesis paper considers energy expenditures and duration of activity in hunter/gatherers, pretechnology farmers, and modern Western societies and considers the potential of each to selectively influence the development of activity regulation. Food availability is also considered given the known linkage of caloric restriction on physical activity as well as early data relating food oversupply to physical inactivity. Elucidating the selection pressures responsible for the genetic/biological control of activity will allow further consideration of these pressures on activity in today's society, especially the linkages between food and activity. Further, current food abundance is removing the cues for activity that were present for the first 40,000 years of human evolution, and thus future research should investigate the effects of this abundance upon the mechanisms regulating activity.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013
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    • "This analysis should be replicated in larger samples. The present analysis was cross-sectional: low PA could lead to adiposity [35,36], in the same way as adiposity could lead to low PA [37,38]. The relationship between PA and adiposity should be studied longitudinally. "
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    ABSTRACT: Overweight and obesity prevalence is the highest at age 65-75 years in Lausanne (compared with younger classes). We aimed to describe 1) eating habits, daily physical activity (PA), and sports frequency in community-dwelling adults aged 65-70, 2) the links of these behaviors with socio-economic factors, and 3) with adiposity. Cross-sectional analysis of Lc65+ cohort at baseline, including 1260 adults from the general population of Lausanne aged 65-70 years. Eating habits (8 items from MNA) and PA (sports frequency and daily PA: walking and using stairs) were assessed by questionnaires. Body mass index (BMI), supra-iliac (SISF), triceps skin-folds (TSF), waist circumference (WC), and WHR were measured. Prevalence of overweight (BMI 25.0-29.9 kg/m2), obesity (BMI >=30.0 kg/m2), and abdominal obesity was 53%, 24%, and 45% in men; 35%, 23%, and 45% in women.Intake of fruits or vegetables (FV) >= twice/day was negatively associated with male sex (prevalence 81% versus 90%, chi-square P < 0.001). The proportion avoiding stairs in daily life was higher among women (25%) than among men (20%, chi-square P = 0.003).In multivariate analyses among both sexes, eating FV, using stairs in daily life ("stairs"), and doing sports >= once/week were significantly negatively associated with financial difficulties (stairs: OR = 0.54, 95% CI = 0.40-0.72) and positively with educational level (stairs: OR = 1.68, 95% CI = 1.17-2.43 for high school).For all five log-transformed adiposity indicators in women, and for all indicators except SISF and TSF in men, a gradual decrease in adiposity was observed from category "no stairs, sports < once/week" (reference), to "no stairs, sports >= once/week", to "stairs, sports < once/week", and "stairs, sports >= once/week" (for example: WC in men, respectively: Ss = -0.03, 95% CI = -0.07-0.02; Ss = -0.06, 95% CI = -0.09--0.03; Ss = -0.10, 95% CI = -0.12--0.07). In this population with high overweight and obesity prevalence, eating FV and PA were strongly negatively associated with financial difficulties and positively with education. Using stairs in daily life was more strongly negatively associated with adiposity than doing sports >= once/week.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · BMC Public Health
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    • "Some of the most accurate methods for quantifying physical activity in daily life are motion sensors and doubly-labeled water. Motion sensors can directly measure physical activity by recording body movement [15], [17] and can also be used in combination with classification algorithms to identify types of activities [10], [18], [19], [20]. Doubly-labeled water represents the gold-standard technique for measuring energy expenditure in daily life and, combined with information on basal metabolic rate (BMR), can be used to determine AEE in free-living conditions. "
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    ABSTRACT: Activity energy expenditure (AEE) is the component of daily energy expenditure that is mainly influenced by the amount of physical activity (PA) and by the weight of the body displaced. This study aimed at analyzing the effect of weight loss on PA and AEE. The body weight and PA of 66 overweight and obese subjects were measured at baseline and after 12 weeks of 67% energy restriction. PA was measured using a tri-axial accelerometer for movement registration (Tracmor) and quantified in activity counts. Tracmor recordings were also processed using a classification algorithm to recognize 6 common activity types engaged in during the day. A doubly-labeled water validated equation based on Tracmor output was used to estimate AEE. After weight loss, body weight decreased by 13±4%, daily activity counts augmented by 9% (95% CI: +2%, +15%), and this increase was weakly associated with the decrease in body weight (R(2) = 7%; P<0.05). After weight loss subjects were significantly (P<0.05) less sedentary (-26 min/d), and increased the time spent walking (+11 min/d) and bicycling (+4 min/d). However, AEE decreased by 0.6±0.4 MJ/d after weight loss. On average, a 2-hour/day reduction of sedentary time by increasing ambulatory and generic activities was required to restore baseline levels of AEE. In conclusion, after weight loss PA increased but the related metabolic demand did not offset the reduction in AEE due to the lower body weight. Promoting physical activity according to the extent of weight loss might increase successfulness of weight maintenance.
    Full-text · Article · Mar 2013 · PLoS ONE
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