More pain to lose the gain

A recent study finds that moderate exercise may not be enough to shed pounds. Health authorities recommend a half-hour of moderate-intensity exercise for a majority of the week to help lose weight. However, a new study designed to see if moderate activity was really enough, shows it is not as effective as previously thought.

The study, published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, was made up of 201 overweight women (21 to 45 years old) participating in a two-year long weight loss program. The participants were asked to restrict their diet to 1,200 – 1,500 calories per day. Additionally, each participant was provided with a treadmill, group meetings that teach healthy diet and exercise habits, and phone conversations for motivation. They were also randomly assigned to one of four weight loss intervention groups based on the amount and intensity of physical activity.

The researchers found that the participants who lost and managed to keep off at least ten percent of their body weight were working out twice as long as health authorities suggest. The current recommendation of 30 minutes of moderate activity for five days a week only comes to 150 minutes – the women who kept off the weight exercised for approximately 275 minutes a week. The researchers also found that exercise had the most significant impact on weight loss, even more than diet changes.

Over half of the woman lost at least 10 percent of their weight; however, most of them did not keep up with the new regimen and gained the weight back. John Jakicic, the lead study author and chair of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh, said that maintaining the new weight is a major concern. It’s important to find a diet and exercise routine that works for you and stick to it.

For anyone who may be discouraged by these findings, Jakicic tells the New York Daily News:

“If you can’t do 275 minutes a week, do what you can do… Everyone needs to find ways to become more active.  And if you can’t do more exercise, then you may just have to be a little more diligent about what you are eating. Exercise is very important, but diet, or healthy eating behavior, still needs to be on your radar screen.”

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