What if there was a way to burn calories without getting up from your desk?
Scientists have discovered that working out a ‘special’ muscle in your calf can promote glucose and fat burning for hours while sitting.
One of 600 muscles in the human body, the soleus is a posterior lower leg muscle that runs from just below the knee to the heel.
Though only 1% of your body weight, the soleus muscle in the calf, if activated correctly, can significantly enhance the metabolic health in the rest of your body.
The groundbreaking discovery by Marc Hamilton, professor of Health and Human Performance at the University of Houston is set to turn a sedentary lifestyle on its ear.
Hamilton has discovered the ‘soleus pushup’ (SPU) for optimal activation of the muscle. The seemingly effortless exercise effectively elevates muscle metabolism for hours, even while sitting.
Published recently in the journal iScience, Hamilton’s research indicates that the soleus pushup’s is more effective than exercise, weight loss, and intermittent fasting to sustain an elevated oxidative metabolism to improve the regulation of blood glucose.
Oxidative metabolism is the process by which oxygen is used to burn metabolites like blood glucose or fats. However, it depends on the immediate energy needs of the muscle when it’s working.
‘We never dreamed that this muscle has this type of capacity. It’s been inside our bodies all along, but no one ever investigated how to use it to optimize our health, until now,’ said Hamilton.
‘When activated correctly, the soleus muscle can raise local oxidative metabolism to high levels for hours, not just minutes,’
When the SPU was tested, the whole-body effects on blood chemistry included a 52% improvement in the excursion of blood glucose (sugar) and 60% less insulin requirement over three hours after ingesting a glucose drink.
How to do a soleus pushup?
- Start with feet flat on the floor and muscles relaxed
- Lift the heel while the front of the foot stays put
- When the heel gets to the top of its range of motion, release the foot to come back down
Exercising your soleus muscle was also found to be effective at doubling the normal rate of fat metabolism between meals and reducing the levels of fat in the blood.
‘The soleus pushup looks simple from the outside, but sometimes what we see with our naked eye isn’t the whole story. It’s a very specific movement that right now requires wearable technology and experience to optimize the health benefits,’ said Hamilton.
While the SPU movement might look like walking while seated, it is the exact opposite, according to the researchers.
When walking, the body is designed to minimise the amount of energy used, because of how the soleus moves. Hamilton’s method flips that upside down and makes the soleus use as much energy as possible for a long duration.
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