WEDNESDAY July 30, 2008 (foodconsumer.org) -- Exercise is
known to help weight loss, but there has been no definite answer to how long an
overweight person needs to exercise to sustain weight loss.
A new study finds that to have such an
effect, an overweight woman need at least to exercise 55 minutes each day for
five days a week.
The study, which appears in the July 28 Archives of Internal
Medicine, showed this magnitude of exercising intensity could sustain a weight
loss of 10 percent over two years.
In the United States, more than 65 percent people are
considered overweight, according to the background information in the study
"Among obese adults, long-term weight loss and
prevention of weight regain have been less than desired," researchers
"Therefore, there is a need
for more effective interventions."
Currently, 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most
days of the week, for a total of 150 minutes per week are recommended. The
study suggests that more exercise may be needed to enhance a long-term weight
For the study, John M. Jakicic, Ph.D., of the University of
Pittsburgh, and colleagues calculated the amount of exercise needed for 201
overweight and obese women in a weight loss intervention between 1999 and 2003.
All the women were advised to eat between 1,200 and 1,500
calories per day. Participants were divided into four groups. Women in each
group were assigned to do exercise for a physical activity amount (1,000 calories
vs. 2,000 calories per week) and intensity (moderate vs. vigorous).
Instruction was given for modifying eating
and exercise habits during the two-year period.
The researchers found after six months, women in all four
groups experienced an average loss of 8 percent to 10 percent of their initial
However, most of them were not able to sustain this weight
loss. After two years, the women's weight was on average 5 percent lower than
their initial weight, with no difference between groups.
Those who did maintain a loss of 10 percent or more over two
years (24.6 percent) reported performing more physical activity resulting in
burning of an average of 1,835 calories per week, or 275 minutes per week over
the baseline level of activity than those who lost less weight.
But even among this group who sustain 10 percent weight
loss, exercise may not be the only thing they did to have the effect.
These people also completed more phone calls
with the research staff and engaged in more eating behaviors recommended for
weight loss and had a lower intake of dietary fat.
"This clarifies the amount of physical activity that
should be targeted for achieving and sustaining this magnitude of weight loss,
but also demonstrates the difficulty of sustaining this level of physical
activity," the researchers write.
"Research is needed to improve long-term compliance
with this targeted level of physical activity. Moreover, continued contact with
the intervention staff and the ability to sustain recommended eating behaviors
also may be important contributing factors to maintaining a significant weight
loss that exceeds 10 percent of initial body weight, which suggests that
physical activity does not function independently of these other
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