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Packed on a Few Pounds? Assistant Professor Says It’s Not Your Desk’s Fault

Now that spring has sprung, maybe you put on a few pounds over the winter? We’re not suggesting you look a little heavier, we’re just saying in case you feel slightly plumper, it’s not your job’s fault. Really, it’s not says Yoni Freedhoff, MD and contributor to U.S. News & World Report.

On the flip side, copious amounts of physical activity don’t translate into significant drops on the scale either.

For instance, last month the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a study which investigated the impact of exercise on weight in half a million men and women. Participants in China self-reported their amounts of daily physical activity broken down into four categories: Work, housework, active transportation and recreation.

In the piece, Dr. Freedhoff writes, “The results were rather underwhelming. Simply put, even huge amounts of additional physical activity failed to provide any dramatic benefits to weight.”

He adds that breaking down granular data helps vindicate the desk job. “In this study, while factory workers were indeed more physically active than those with desk jobs, the average difference was around 10 MET-h/d – which would translate to a factory worker being about three-quarters of a pound lighter than a desk jockey as a result of his or her more physically demanding job.”

Here’s the kicker and essentially the reminder: Physical activity, says the physician, often leads to more consumption. “Whether by means of the hunger generated by the exercise itself and subsequently larger portions or by means of reward – like many who hit the gym, exercise is rewarded with indulgences we feel we’ve “earned” – calories burned through extra physical activity regularly lead us to add them back into our diets.”

So, if you want to melt away a few pounds, it goes back to the old-fashioned way: Regular exercise and healthy portions. He advises against kidding “yourself into thinking it’s your desk’s fault.” He says, “We’re eating more, all of us, and if you want to see your weight change, you simply can’t take your eyes off of your plates.”

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