In reading through New England Runner Magazine I came upon an article by a nutritionist about the balance between activity and diet. The writer’s point was interesting, summed up with this quote: “[M]any runners burn far fewer calories than they realize, they are actually couch potatoes the majority of the day.” Her position is that the average person sits over nine hours per day and even competitive runners exist in a cycle of activity, rest and recovery where R&R may be proportionately much higher than exercise. According to the article, a study of senior citizens showed that one additional hour of exercise a day with no additional food intake yielded no reduction in body fat. Supposedly the subjects failed to lose weight because they slept more and were more sedentary throughout the day.
If this is truly the case I’d expect to see more runners with weight problems. Perhaps there are. It’s hard to gauge the fitness of other runners by sight. Aside from the ripped Ironman tri-athlete types who clearly focus on constant activity it’s challenging to know just by looking. I’m thin and run with what I think is good form but I’ve been passed in races by people who I would never guessed were runners (and competitive ones at that).
So fitness is clearly more complicated than exercise and diet. All the same, I did lose a good deal of weight that way. I suppose I could introduce even more activity into my daily routine to better balance the sedentary/active ratio. In the end it would only mean my new pants, shirts and suits would need to be replaced yet again. Frankly, I’d prefer having a percentage point or two of body fat over another round of clothes buying and tailoring.