Jessica Norrbom and Maria Ahlsén at Karolinska Institutet's Book Fair
Four publishing houses were present at Karolinska Institutet's book fair on December 14th - Fri Tanke, Volante, Natur & Kultur and KIUP - and some of the authors they represented were interviewed during the afternoon. Visitors had the opportunity to ask questions directly to the scientists and get books signed.
Jessica Norrbom, researcher focusing on genes, muscles and physical exercise at the Department of Physiology and Pharmacology, and Maria Ahlsén, who holds a doctorate in Physiology and teaches the subject at Karolinska Institutet, gave their view on how we all can live a healthier life. They are the authors of Frisk utan flum – en vetenskaplig väg till bättre hälsa (Seriously healthy – a scientific path to better health, unofficial translation of title), published at Fri Tanke.
It is not a book on diets. It is scientifically grounded and illustrates what we can do when it comes to food, health and exercise and the various recommendations on the subject.
"It doesn’t have to be complicated or even difficult. A few minor changes may be enough to achieve great results. Everything counts. One minute of physical exercise is better than none. It is obviously better to exercise more, that’s when you get results, but everything counts," says Jessica Norrbom.
Why should we even bother living a healthy life?
We have no impact over heredity or chance since we are born with certain genes and live the life we live and. But according to the authors, we can definitely improve our health by choosing healthier foods, by exercising more and doing muscle strengthening exercises to build muscle mass. Minor things that will lead to healthier days, for instance introducing 30 sweaty minutes exercise a day (or 150 min
utes a week), which does wonders for our heart, our vessels and, last but not least, our mental health.
In other words, we have two accounts to fill up: one account for motion where the aim is to take approximately 10 000 steps a day and to avoid sitting still, and another account for physical exercise where we expose ourselves to pulse-pounding activities for at least 30 minutes a day (of 150 minutes a week).
According to Maria Ahlsén there are no shortcuts to losing weight. The authors are sceptical to methods promising quick results. Diets are more often than not about excluding foods or starving the body. If you do so over a short lapse of time you will lose muscle mass and expose your body to huge stress since you are depriving it of energy. The muscles are weakened which is alarming, since muscles are extremely valuable to us all.
What may be the consequences if we do not change what we ought to change?
“Quick fix” diets will most probably result in relapses. We increase our body fat and decrease our skeletal muscle capacity, and even if we weigh less than before, the body probably consists of more fat and less muscles and that is a clear factor of risk for health.
It is far better to have a long term plan, losing weight slowly combined with physical training or activity, so as to spare muscle mass and enhance skeletal muscle capacity.
Maria and Jessica's five best tips for a healthier lifestyle:
- Fill your stomach with good food
- Quench your thirst with water
- 30 sweaty minutes exercise a day (or 150 minutes a week)
- Work out / weight training twice a week doing something that is a little more challenging than usual.
- Avoid sitting still, move around and aim for 10 000 steps a day.