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Much Too Common Scene

August 3, 2010

Our building in Anchorage has 21 steps between the 1st and 2nd floors. I walk them many times a day, and it takes about 20 seconds to descend. We also have an elevator for handicapped and transport access. A few days ago 3 workers on the second floor exited their office. One called and waited for the elevator, and 2 walked down the stairs, encouraging their co-worker to join them. The co-worker, young by my standards (20 something) had a sugared soft drink bottle in hand while waiting for the elevator.

The sugared soft drink contains about 190 calories (16 ounces). I read that descending stairs burns about 7 calories per minute. So our elevator traveler burned no calories, and gained 190. Walking the stairs down might have burned slightly more than 2 calories. So is it beneficial to take the elevator given such minimal calorie expenditures. Well, in the world we work in, our patients drink 6+ sodas a day, for about 1140 calories consumed. Then they take the easy way to get somewhere. Our elevator user probably drives everywhere, and avoids exercise altogether. You could tell that additional weight was already settling in. Let’s say elevator user consumes 3 sodas a day and is marginally active, and that the soda calories are in excess of the daily basal metabolic rate for a sedentary person. Being sedentary and consuming 3 sugared sodas a day produces 69.5 pounds of additional weight annually. Just one soda would give you enough calories to produce 23 pounds of additional weight annually.

This scene makes it real clear why hydration with water has immediate benefits over soda consumption. In addition, water lubricates your tendons, ligaments and cartilage, which reduces the stress they experience daily. Adding almost 70 pounds increases the stress substantially. And walking, even a short flight of stairs, gives you the motivation to do even more exercise. My 15 times up and down the stairs daily uses about 80 calories. So if I avoid the soda, and walk up and down the stairs, the difference assuming I am at my basal metabolic rate is about 6 pounds a year. We have to start somewhere, and long term thinking is a good place to start. I didn’t get fat overnight, and it will take time to get down to my appropriate weight.

It is this type of behavior that we hope to find a way to fight through our Restoration to Health program.

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