Wednesday, July 6, 2005

Medicine: obese people need to slow down?


Doctoral student Ray Browning and his colleagues studied 20 men and women of normal weight and 20 considered obese as they walked set distances at different speeds. They found the obese people burned more calories walking at a slower pace for a longer time than walking at a faster speed.
It's a pretty interesting article dealing with a fairly complex problem. I don't see a direct reason why slower walking might be better, though it might make sense that the longer period of time would be associated with a raised heart rate over a greater period of time, a sort of integral calculus kind of graph-thought. And compliance issues, as its pretty hard for an obese person who is out of shape to zoom around at the pace that their more experienced walking buddies may employ.If nothing else, slower walking would minimize osteoarthritis stiffness.

But the really interesting part of the article:
Previous research showed that a person of normal weight who tried to emulate an obese person by wearing leg weights and walking with a wider leg swing spent 50 percent to 100 percent more energy to walk. But in the latest study, the team found obese individuals spent only about 10 percent more energy than their lighter counterparts.

"Does someone with obesity walk differently than the way normal people walk? Do they do something to make it cheaper to walk? It appears they do something in the walking pattern to make it cheaper," Browning said, meaning they burn fewer calories.
So obese people cheat the walking system? Wowsers. Chalk one up for evolution.

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