Consistent High Physical Activity is More Effective for Losing Weight

Consistent High Physical Activity is More Effective for Losing Weight

"If U.S. citizens put in 30 minutes of aerobic activity five times a week it would cut the amount of chronic diseases and health costs by almost half. That's how powerful physical fitness is," says Pamela Peeke, M.D., M.P.H., assistant clinical professor of medicine .


Obesity poses one of the greatest public health challenges for the 21st century, with particularly alarming trends in several parts of the world, including the WHO European Region.Unhealthy diets and physical inactivity are the main contributors to overweight and obesity, which are among the leading risk factors for the major noncommunicable diseases. The most significant consequences for health of overweight and obesity include hypertension and hyperlipidaemia (major risk factors), coronary heart disease, ischaemic stroke, type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, osteoporosis and psychosocial problems.Coronary heart disease is the most common cause of premature death, alone accounting for 16% and 12% of all premature deaths in men and women,respectively.

Physical activity is an important part of an overall strategy to control blood pressure. If you have prehypertension, exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.To reduce stroke risk, public health agencies and clinicians should encourage sedentary patients to engage in regular and moderate to high-intensity physical activity,

In addition to aerobic exercise, it's important to incorporate strength training into your program. Peeke says it's imperative to do both because lifting weights not only builds your muscles but also raises your metabolism, causing you to burn more calories.Data shown that increasing physical activity (at least 30 minutes of regular, moderate-intensity physical
activity on most days of the week) may keep off your extra weight.

"The bottom line is what works is a combination of both," Peeke says. "Whether you're trying to lose weight or exercising for fitness, it's still important for everyone to do some level of weight lifting and aerobic exercise. Ultimately you want strength, flexibility and endurance."The average level of daily physical activity has also been shown to affect timing of puberty, especially female. A high level of exercise, whether for athletic or body image purposes, or for daily subsistence, reduces energy calories available for reproduction and slows puberty. The exercise effect is often amplified by a lower body fat mass.

Whatever activity you choose, the key is to commit to doing it regularly. Aim for 30 to 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week. Moderately intense activity or exercise should increase your heart and breathing rates and possibly lead to a light sweat. Brisk walking and yardwork that entails near constant motion are examples of moderately intense activity.Women whose work involved lifting or heavy manual labor had a higher body-mass index and more children than those engaged in sedentary work. Energy intake was positively related to physical activity, but the association was more pronounced with work activity than with leisure-time activity.

Physical activity influences energy balance, and experimental studies have shown that calorie restrictions inhibit mammary carcinogenesis.Anthropometric measures such as height, body-mass index, and weight gain have been used as biomarkers of calorie intake, and increased values have been reported to be risk factors for breast cancer in humans.A diet involving a high energy intake has also been associated with early age at menarche,and this finding supports the hypothesis that increased net energy may increase the cumulative hormonal levels that are of importance for carcinogenesis of the breast. Women who were active during leisure time reported only a slightly higher total energy intake than sedentary women, and they tended to be leaner, indicating that their net available energy was lower. The greater protective effect of leisure-time activity against breast cancer in lean women indicates that there may be an optimal energy balance that inhibits mammary carcinogenesis.

Physical activity is an important part of an overall strategy to control blood pressure. If you have prehypertension, exercise can help you avoid developing full-blown hypertension. If you already have hypertension, regular physical activity can bring your blood pressure down to safer levels.

People who consistently engage in high levels of exercise over the long haul are the most successful at losing weight and keeping it off, a new study shows.

Among a group of overweight men and women participating in an 18-month weight loss program, those who were still getting 75 minutes of exercise daily a year after the program ended had lost 12 kilograms (26 pounds), compared to 0.8 kg (1.8 pounds) for people who were exercising less.

But only 13 of the 154 people who completed the study were able to sustain this level of activity, Dr. Deborah F. Tate of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill and her colleagues found. "Strategies are needed to help participants maintain high levels of activity over the long-term," she and her colleagues conclude in a report in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The researchers initially assigned 202 people to either a high physical activity group who aimed to burn 2,500 calories per week (equivalent to a 75-minute walk daily) or standard behavioral treatment, including 30 minutes of exercise daily, equivalent to 1,000 calories per week.

Twelve and 18 months later, people in the high activity group had lost significantly more weight than those in the lower activity group.

Although the participants in the high activity group were able to sustain the 2,500 calorie per week exercise goal during the 18-month study, their activity level declined once treatment ended, which resulted in no between-group differences in activity or weight loss at 2.5 years.

However, a small subgroup of people who stuck to the 2,500 calorie per week exercise regimen after the 18-month treatment period ended maintained a significantly larger weight loss than those who didn't exercise as much.

People who maintained high levels of exercise were also eating fewer calories and less fat.

The researchers believe that their e-mails, mailings and phone calls to study participants for the initial 18 months of the study were successful in helping them to reach exercise goals; continuing to stay in touch may have helped them sustain this level of activity.

"It is also possible that sustaining the long-term behavior changes that are needed for behaviors such as physical activity will require changes in the larger social and environmental context in which these behaviors occur," they conclude.

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