Forget the word ‘exercise’. What the body needs as a minimum to improve its health is movement and activity. Every time we move, fluid is pumped around our body, into and out of cells, activating and stimulating nerves, joints and muscles. The Horizon study explored the effects of simply trying to move about more throughout the day. This was measured by wearing some interesting underpants that had electrical sensors to register each time the person wearing them moved parts of their pelvic and buttock muscles (called wriggle pants). For example on day one the journalist reviewing this work wore the underpants and carried out a normal day, travelling to work by car, sitting at his desk, answering phone calls and working at his computer. The second day he deliberately tried to be more active, by parking further away from work, taking the stairs not the lift, standing up to speak on the telephone, visiting a colleague’s office rather than emailing or using the phone. He did not perform any specific exercise, though he consciously walked more within his normal routine.
When the scientists analysed his activity they observed a considerable increase in activity and calculated how many calories he had burned. They found he had used 500 more calories during the second day than the first. A little bit of movement (regularly) can do you a great deal of good (without doing formal exercise), particularly if you want to lose weight. However, don’t let me put you off ‘exercise’; the more activity the better.