Every week, we’re bringing you a roundup of the latest health and wellness news to hit the wire. This week, we look at the weight-loss benefits of eliminating a meal before working out, why a mere 4,400 steps seem to boost longevity in women, and the legitimization of workplace burnout.
Exercise minus breakfast = weight loss?
Skipping breakfast before a workout could help people eat less for the remainder of the day, according to a new study in The New York Times.
Researchers from the University of Bath in England were curious as to whether omitting a meal before working out would aid in weight loss or simply make people overcompensate and consume more calories later.
To answer this question, they recruited a number of active, healthy young men and tracked their food intake on days they had breakfast and rested, had breakfast and rode a bike, and skipped breakfast and cycled. They stayed at the lab for lunch, eating as much of that meal as they wanted, and took home a basket of food to eat, returning any unused portion so their calories could be tracked. They also wore respiratory masks throughout the day to track their energy expenditure.
Here’s what researchers found: As expected, the couch potatoes who ate breakfast took in more calories than they burned. The people who ate breakfast and worked out burned about the same number of calories they consumed. But the breakfast skippers, while getting ravenous and eating more at lunch, found that their hunger tailed off at the end of the day, allowing them to burn nearly 400 calories more than they ate.
It’s promising news for those looking to use physical training as a weight-loss tool, although more research is required to see whether those results hold true for all fitness levels and age groups.
Do you really need 10,000 steps a day?
Most of us have heard the advice to shoot for 10,000 steps a day for better health. However, the optimal number of steps may be different for everyone. Older women whose step counters reached a modest 4,400 each day in a new study on CNN had a 41 percent lower rate of death than those women taking 1,700 fewer steps per day.
The original 10,000 steps guideline dates back to the mid-1960s when a Japanese company marketed a pedometer called a “Manpo-kei,” which means a “10,000-steps meter.” Feeling that the guideline was more about marketing than science, lead author of the study I-Min Lee, M.D., an epidemiologist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston, set out to determine at what point steps actually began to improve health outcomes.
She and her colleagues collected data on 17,000 women with an average age of 72 who wore the pedometers on their hip for seven days, as well as accelerometers to track motion and speed. The women were monitored for four years, and during that time, 504 women died.
Of these deaths, 275 were in the least-active group, averaging just 2,700 steps a day. Compared to this group, the women averaging 4,400 steps a day had a 41 percent lower rate of death, with that risk of mortality declining even more as steps were added, until about 5,700 steps a day, at which point the benefits seemed to level off. The pace of the steps didn’t matter. And it’s not much of a stretch, given that the average number of steps taken by American adults is between 4,000 and 5,000 steps, according to previous research.
“So for women who are not active or thinking about being active, just a modest number of steps a day can help your health,” Lee said.
The study only looked at mortality rates in older women, but Lee hopes to do more research on younger people as well as study the relationship between step levels and other aspects of health and daily function.
Workplace burnout is a real thing
If you’ve ever felt exhausted, cynical and unable to function adequately, you’ve probably suffered from burnout. Now, according to CNBC, the World Health Organization has classified it a real occupational health hazard—one that is growing quickly and stems from workplace stress that has not been “successfully managed.”
Photo credit: Viktor Kern, Unsplash