Thursday, October 01, 2009

Escalators make you fat .

Escalators make you fat .
Andre Willers
1 Oct 2009

The attempt by the body to reconcile reasonable speeds of motion (as on a travelator or escalator) with visual and muscle cues leads to negative energy usage : ie fat deposits .

Discussion :
See New Scientist 18 jul 2009 p31 "If you're in a hurry , dodge the travelator" .

Research and theoretical models has shown that people reconcile visual cues (ie the rate of travel) , body cues and energy expenditure to minimize energy expenditure .

Travellators at airports are slower than walking if there is even mild congestion .

If we drive it to extremes , like with escalators , the eyes report work being done , the muscles and nerves report nothing is going on . The system tries to reconcile this .

It thinks that this is Really Neat ! It can squirrel away this obviously unneeded energy as fat reserves . It is a switch .The effect is non-linear .
This is why kids love escalators . It boosts their energy reserves .

Lifts :
Not applicable , as there is no visual cue . You step into a box , and the box is moved .

Cars , trains etc .
The visual cues are disregarded , as outside possible walking parameters .

A Really Green Escalator .
Run it slowly in reverse , driving a generator . Charge the customers for a work-out , proceeds to go to a Green Cause (minus your expenses , of course) .

Slow transport :
Like in traffic , a tricycle or slow bicycle . Below a threshold perception speed , the effect kicks in .

Traffic congestion at around walking speed will make you fat .
The switch kicks in .

The value at which it kicks in :
Since humans had an episode of cursorial raptors in their ancestry , there is probably a fairly narrow range of speeds (a spike) where this kicks in .

I estimate it at between 5 to 7 miles per hour .The speed of a brisk walk or slow jog .
But experiments are needed .

Exercise Treadmills .
Sigh . These will just make you fatter .
Trying to reconcile the visual cues (going nowhere) and energy expenditure , the body simply triggers fatigue and you stop . The body squirrels the extra pulse of energy away as fat .

An application is in water-rescue . Humans last longer if they try to slowly swim somewhere instead of simply treading water . (Anectodal evidence) Easily tested experimentally .

Wii .
It will be interesting to see if partial Virtual Reality like Wii exercise machines can prevent the switch from kicking in .

Accelleration :
Humans have a very acute sense of acceleration . They have to . Walking would not be possible otherwise . These senses are mostly in the inner ear .

Linear acceleration :
Sports or occupations that involve big accelerations of the head (like rugby , boxing , etc) lead to obesity in later life . This has been explained away as being typical of the type of human that practices these avocations . But is it really ?

Note footballers , skiers , etc who do not have the same problem .

Rotational acceleration.
This would normally not trigger the response .
But , any pair dancing involves rotating around an asymmetric axis .

Pair dancing springs to mind (waltz , etc)
The male , being stronger normally leads and occupies the central space . The female is then subject to more linear acceleration .

Professional female dancers always have a weight problem , no matter how svelte they started out .

These have a major effect on obesity because of the peripheral vision interference .
The visual cues confuses the brain . Peripheral vision is normally concerned with motion and intensity of light .

Glasses changes this . At the rim of the glasses there is a discontinuity . Humans do no training for this , so the system interprets this as a velocity change related to the rotation of the head . But you are going nowhere . The system interprets this as negative energy expenditure and lays it down as fat . (As discussed above) .

So , if you wear glasses and look around a lot , you will get fatter .

Since at least 2/3 of people wear glasses , is there a way around this ?

Dark Glasses .
The variations of darkness triggers various perceptions of relative speed , which in turn triggers various speeds of laying down fat .

1.Wrap around .
Do away with the discontinuity of the rim . Note that pilots rarely become obese .
Note that contact lenses are not wrap-around . There is still a discontinuity at the rim .

2. Dark glasses . There are three types , depending on the person's condition .
2.1 Dark all round : only one available now . Better than nothing .
2.2 Darker towards the rim . Slows metabolic perception of surplus energy in bright light .
2.3 Darker towards the center . Slows metabolic perception of surplus energy in dim light .

Of course , we can make glasses that combine all three depending on the ambient light and the fat-index of the wearer . The technology exists and is not even expensive . It just has to be assembled .

"Wear these glasses and you will lose about 2 kg a month , or your money back "
Can be done .

Training :
Anyone starting to wear glasses should have a system of training to go with it to retrain the retina/brain . See "Hearing 4"
Just looking around does not hack it .

Sports :
A tennis player with wrap-around dark glasses darker around the edges will have a significant reflex-speed advantage in bright daylight .

The same with a soccer player with wrap-around dark glasses darker around the center at night under lights .

A golf player should enhance his score simply by wearing aviator glasses .

Interesting aside :
From above arguments , near-sightedness in middle age should lead to obesity , or at least overweight problems like diabetesII .

And you thought chicken fat was weird .
Ever seen a near-sighted eagle ?


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