A new study has determined exactly how much exercise is needed to maintain weight loss. The study, appearing in Archives of Internal Medicine this week, found that overweight and obese women must exercise at least 55 minutes a day, five days a week, to lose and maintain weight loss.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh followed nearly 200 overweight and obese women to determine the amount of exercise time needed to sustain a weight loss of 10 percent or more of initial body weight over two years.
"The less they exercised the less weight they lost and the less they kept off," says John Jakicic, lead author and director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh. "It seemed like this magic number of 275 [minutes a week] is what really made a difference."
Dr. Jakicic and his team followed the 191 women over a two-year time span. The women were between the ages of 21 and 45 with a body mass index of 27 to 40, which is in the overweight and obese body weight range. Prior to the study, all of the women exercised less than 20 minutes day, less than three days a week.
The women were prescribed diets of between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day. All study participants were randomly assigned to one of four groups: One that burned 1,000 calories a week, one that burned 2,000 calories a week, one that exercised moderately, and one that exercised vigorously. Participants also attended group meetings where they learned how to change their diet and activity and received telephone follow-up calls.
While women in the various exercise groups lost weight, only those who exercised more than 55 minutes a day, five days a week, managed to sustain their weight loss over the two-year time span of the study. The women who exercised more and stuck to their diets kept off a 10 percent body weight loss over the two years, compared with others who maintained only 5 percent and exercised less. "We did the study because of the whole confusion about this issue," says Jakicic. "Once you lose it, how do you keep that weight off, long-term? This helps to present some of the clearest guidelines in terms of what we should be actually doing."
Prior to the study, health experts often recommended that 30 minutes of exercise, five days a week, was sufficient to maintain weight loss. While that level of exercise is helpful for overall health maintenance, it is not effective for those who have managed to lose a large amount of weight and are trying to keep that weight off.
Much of the focus on weight control has concentrated on diet rather than the affect of regular exercise. The study findings indicated that moderate exercise could positively impact weight maintenance."They didn't need to join a gym. They didn't need to join a special class. They didn't do resistance exercise," says Jakicic. "They basically walked."
With more than half the adult population in the U.S. overweight, people need to "engineer" activity back into their lives, whether it's structured exercise or lifestyle activity, according to Jakicic. Recently revised U.S. guidelines suggest previously overweight people who have lost weight may need 60 to 90 minutes of exercise daily to maintain weight loss.
Acupuncture can assist dieters with their weight loss when combined with a reduced calorie diet and exercise. An effective weight loss management plan, including acupuncture, nutritional counseling, exercise, stress reduction, and lifestyle modification can result in permanent long-term weight loss.
For information about acupuncture for weight loss call Dr. Richard Browne, Acupuncture Physician, at (305) 595-9500.