Big news for calorie-counters: Eating less on days when you miss a workout won't necessarily keep you from gaining weight in the long run. New research from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reports a serious nationwide drop in physical activity, especially among young women, and bump in average BMI. Even more: Calorie consumption remained steady over the past two decades—and this may explain why obesity rates in the U.S. continue to rise.
While it's true abs are made in the kitchen, it's equally true that fat is made in the chair—you know, that thing you've been sitting on for 12 hours straight? It makes sense that even if you eat a steady, healthy diet with the same amount of calories day in and day out (no significant changes), your waistline may still expand if don't move much. Also, if you're not building muscle to boost your metabolism and burn calories even when you're at rest, then what you eat really does go straight to your muffin top. Female participants in this survey saw their midsection's circumference increase, on average, 0.37 percent per year.
It wasn't clear in the report why women are spending less time breaking a sweat these days, but it's easy to speculate that it probably has something to do with their work life. For example, the average woman who is age 25 and over and has a bachelor's degree, spends more time at work than doing household activities, according to 2011 data from the U.S. Department of Labor. If she's not washing her dishes, changing bedsheets, or doing laundry, then she's probably not lacing up her running shoes either. Finding time for yourself isn't a new problem, but as this study shows, this issue is getting worse, so pencil exercise into your calendar and stick to it for your beautiful bikini body's sake.