To Your Health: Sedentary Lifestyle & Obesity

To Your Health: Sedentary Lifestyle & Obesity

Editor’s Note: It all started with a Wellness Conference that took place in March at The Peaks Resort & Spa. The talks featured part-time Telluride local Dr. Alan Safdi, who offered evidence-based medical findings for healthy living in easily digestible sound bytes. Telluride Inside… and Out attended a few sessions in the series and continues to offer nuggets from Dr. Safdi through a new bi-monthy column, To Your Health.


A recent Stanford study adds evidence that a sedentary lifestyle is a greater problem than even diet in contributing to obesity. Most patients in the practice tended to overestimate the amount of exercise they performed and underestimate their caloric intake.

Researchers looked at national survey results of people’s health habits — including diet and exercise — from 1988 to 2010. The stunner was the increase in people who reported no leisure-time physical activity.

In 1988, 19 percent of women were inactive. By 2010, that number had jumped to 52 percent.

For men, the rate nearly quadrupled, going from 11 to 43 percent in the same time period.

But what didn’t change was the number of calories people consumed. In other words, people were eating about the same amount, but exercising significantly less.

The research can only suggest an association between inactivity and increasing obesity, but that people should not decide diet is irrelevant to obesity.

The data raises the question of how much of the change in obesity prevalence in our country might be related to physical activity.

Researchers analyzed results from the National Health and Nutrition Survey, conducted by the Centers for Disease Control. Participants reported their activity over the last month and their diet over the last 24 hours. The team did not find a difference in total caloric count or breakdown by protein, carbohydrate and fat, over the 22-year study period.

The prevalence of obesity increased in the period from 1988 to 2010 from 25 to 35 percent of women and from 20 to 35 percent of men.

There are numerous benefits we can attribute to exercise beyond just weight control. I always emphasize the fact exercise has to be a consistent part of one’s daily life.

Individuals with the highest levels of cardiorespiratory fitness during middle age were significantly less likely to develop dementia in their senior years, a long-term prospective study suggested.

Exercise on a regular basis lowers the risk of heart disease, stroke, diabetes, colon cancer, colonic polyps, hypertension, and possibly breast and other cancers. If all that is not enough remember that exercise is held up as one of the most important aspects of a healthy lifestyle. A regular routine burns calories, is good for your heart and can make you happier. But the benefits do not end there: new research has found that exercise also boosts the diversity of bacteria found in the gut, which can also have positive long-term health implications.

Enough said.

Now start running and lifting or do your yoga practice.


About Dr. Alan Safdi:

Dr. Alan Safdi

Dr. Alan Safdi

Dr. Alan Safdi is board certified in Internal Medicine and in Gastroenterology and is a Fellow of the American College of Gastroenterology. A proven leader in the healthcare arena, he has been featured on the national program, “Medical Crossfire” and authored or co-authored numerous medical articles and abstracts. Safdi has been involved in grant-based and clinical research for over 33 years and is passionate about disease prevention and wellness, not just fixing what has gone wrong. He is an international lecturer on the subjects of wellness, nutrition and gastoenterology.

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