BBC Reel: Why Exercising Does Not Mean You Burn Calories


BBC Reel is a short documentary series intended to increase viewer curiosity. The documentary series explored an aspect about exercise science. The claim was made that just because a person exercises does not mean they burn calories. This brings into question of using calories as a useful measure for effectiveness of an exercise program. Before this is accepted, it must go through much experimentation. There are certain claims that can be disputed. Physical activity and exercise are classified a two different entities. The problem comes when classifying what counts as physical activity. A better term would be general movement. This is more than a debate about semantics or terminology. If these words cannot not be given a proper denotation, then this complicates health policy recommendations. Governments provide recommendations for exercise and they change overtime. Arbitrary changes are not based on science. Maybe the reason some do not burn calories during exercise is that they are not doing enough or the right type to be effective.

To understand this, one must know the difference between general movement, physical activity, an exercise. What this could be called are stages of workout. The highest level of these would be athletic training. Making these definitions clear can reduce confusion. Calories just might not be enough to determine the effectiveness of exercise from a health science perspective.

Physical activity, general movement, and exercise are different. BBC Reel makes the mistake of calling physical activity general movement. Physical activity can be defined as ” any movement the requires energy expenditure.” The problem with this definition is that certain movement can be defined as physical activity. Walking to the fridge from your living room should not be classified as physical activity. The level of intensity should distinguish this from general movement. General movement could be the body in motion both voluntary and involuntary. Typing does involve the use of your hands, but it cannot be classified as physical activity. Standing in one place would not be physical activity, but could be general movement. Moving furniture or vacuuming the floor can involve physical activity. Exercise is physical activity done for the purpose of fitness or health. Athletic training is done for the improvement in a sport.

General movement can be seen here. The person pics up food to eat, but it is low intensity.

Physical activity requires more exertion than general movement.

Exercise is done for either health or fitness purposes Athletic training is the highest form of exercise.

It is pivotal to make this distinction. Otherwise, anything could be considered physical activity. This might have distorted some of the studies. One proposal for experiment would be to see which exercise burn the most calories. When that is determined, samples should be broken up into those who are active and those who are not. If the results show both groups do not or burn the same amount of calories, then it might be time to find a new way of measuring fitness. The human body is a complex organic machine. There is still more to learn in terms of biomedical and health science. Physical activity and exercise is good for health. Even if a person does not have a weight related health issue or disease it is recommended to have exercise incorporated in your daily schedule. The specific amount still is debated. What is known is that it must extend beyond general movement.

Human biological evolution tells us about the nature of our health. Our ancestors were physically active because survival depended on it. The modern human does not get as much physical activity. Most of the time is spent sitting at home or at work. Manual labor jobs are disappearing due to technology and automation. BBC Reel holds the theory that human beings are hardwired not to waste energy in vain. The problem is only fossils remain of the early hominids. Without naturalistic observation this remains speculative. A large portion of their time was spent trying to get food. The problem was solved with the rise of permanent settlement and agriculture. Sitting itself is not unhealthy. Rather too much of it can be. Hunter gatherer societies also have long period in which they sit. Training and exercise are done for specific purposes is a recent concept in human history. However, it would be hard to say that people some how evolved to avoid physical activity. Being physical was a matter of survival and when people were secure it was not required. The change in environment rather than biology made be physical active less of a necessity. Lifestyle and personal habits influence health condition. There are numerous reasons do not exercise. Saying this has to do with evolution lacks cogency.

Based on this reason we could say the women have less of a desire for physical activity. There have been indications that women’s lower participation and interest in sports has a biological basis. The sociological factors cannot be ignored when discussing biology. What should also be noted is that the genus homo species did not have long life expectancy . They may have gotten more exercise, but they were not healthier. More information is required before making claims about how human health relates to biology.

Sedentary people and burn calories just like the physically active. An experiment with the Hadza people showed they burned a similar amount compared to Americans and Europeans. Doubt was cast on these results, so more data was collected. What happened was they were getting the same conclusion. Dr. Herman Pontzer explained that the Hadza get more physical activity more physical activity in a week than the average American. The Hadza are one of the few hunter gatherer societies left in Tanzania. Their activity includes walking, hunting, digging, and chopping wood. This reveals an attribute about energy expenditure management. It has to be maintained in a certain range. Calories may no longer to useful in determining the effectiveness of an exercise program.

The experiment could be replicated to have different control groups. Using athletes and non-athletes could verify this experiment. If both groups still burn the same amount, then it can be safe to say this is scientific fact. What also must be considered is which exercise burns the most calories. Certain types of exercise can burn more calories. When that is determined then it can be used for the experiment. What the data shows is that calories might no be useful for fitness progress. Maybe a better measure would be body composition ratio.

Diet and exercise are a means of maintaining a healthy weight. The mistake is that people may focus on one, disregarding the other. A change in diet and nutrition can help with weight loss. It will not be as effective without exercise. Caloric intake should be the correct amount for purposes of metabolism. BBC Reel explains the new information of calories is not a reason to avoid exercise. What should be understood is that these habits to health have to consistently maintained. The reason people regain weight they lost is they revert to past eating habits. Being active to a has a positive effect on the aging process. The idea that humans evolved to live long is dubious. It would have been rare to find a hominid that lived to the age of 100. The reason people are living longer are due to advances in medicine , gerontology, and health science. Such knowledge and technology was not available. Now, humanity has more control over its own biology. We might be extending life beyond what it was intended by natural selection. Metabolism does slow down later than thought. The common belief was that this happens during middle age. From the age 20 to 60 it remains stable. Yet this should not be taken as evidence humans were evolved to live longer. Many cognitive and physical aliments can occur in advanced age. Dementia, heart disease, cancer, and osteoporosis are concerns. Exercise might be a means of prevention of particular diseases. Eating right and physical activity are the basic steps to maintaining optimum health.

Social inequality can have an impact on health. Access to gyms or exercise facilities is limited to those who face discrimination or are of lower socioeconomic status. Poverty can harm health in both physically and mentally. BBC Reel mentions this briefly at the end of the video, but it requires more explanation. While some choices can be controlled other cannot. A country that has an inadequate healthcare system or limited numbers of hospitals will negatively impact health. Racism and sexism also are a factor. Doctors might treat patients of a different ethnic background differently or just give them lower quality treatment. Women are not represented enough in medical studies. The lack of reproductive rights, limited prenatal care, or sex bias can harm health. A growing class divide shows how the poor’s health is in decline. If healthy food is too expensive that is deliberately harming a group. This is a reversal from a time in which it was the rich who were inactive. Nobles and monarchs had access to more food and leisure time. The modern world has made exercise a privilege of the upper class elite. A gym membership is not required for exercise, but the disparity is egregious. The solution could be the construction of more public parks and outdoor gyms. Action must be taken if populations will be living longer. Otherwise there could be a series of public health related issues.

Exercise can have positive benefits for organ systems of the body. Education was incorrectly called a modern behavior that we were not evolved to do. That is wrong. The fact that early primates were learning skills for survival demonstrates our brains require activity as well. Cave paintings show early humans mastering art. The rise of the oral tradition of recoding history shows that humanity wanted to preserve knowledge. Mass literacy and public education were inevitable considering knowledge was so critical to human survival. Reading, doing puzzles, or learning a new skill can help with cognitive health. Biological evolution changed our brains to be more complex. Just like any other organ system it requires maintenance and use. Dr. Daniel Liberman is incorrect saying our brains were never evolved for education. Archaic humans were building tools. It can be assumed that this knowledge was taught to children by adults. Homo habilis made tools, which indicate it was capable of learning. The brain and the body need a workout to maintain a stable state of health. Exercise helps immunity, the circulatory system, the musculoskeletal system, and..

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