Walk Away From Weight Gain
Walking 30 Minutes a Day Keeps Extra Pounds Away Without Dieting
Jan. 12, 2004 -- Preventing weight gain may be as easy as
taking a walk.
New research suggests that walking as little as 30 minutes a
day or 12 miles a week may be enough to keep extra pounds at bay or even lose
weight -- all without dieting.
Exercising more than that will offer even greater weight-loss
benefits, but researchers say the results show that modest physical activity
may be enough for many people to keep their weight in check.
Modest Activity Fights Obesity
More than half of Americans are overweight or obese, and the
prevalence of obesity has increased by nearly 50% from 1991 to 1998. Obesity is
associated with a variety of health problems from heart disease to diabetes,
but researchers say extra fat around the midsection can be especially hazardous
to your health.
Although diet and exercise are widely known to help promote a
healthy weight, researchers say it's unclear just how much exercise is needed
to prevent weight gain.
In this study, which appears in the Jan. 12 issue of the
Archives of Internal Medicine, researchers compared the effects of three
different exercise programs vs. no exercise at all on the weight and waist
circumference of 120 sedentary overweight adults.
Each of the participants were told not to change their diet and
was assigned to one of the following three exercise intensity groups or a
fourth group that did not exercise for eight months:
- High amount/vigorous: Equivalent to jogging about 20 miles per week at
60%-80% of maximal heart rate
- Low amount/vigorous: Equivalent to jogging 12 miles per week at 60%-80% of
maximal heart rate
- Low amount/moderate: Equivalent to walking 12 miles per week at 40%-50% of
maximal heart rate
Not surprisingly, researchers found that the more the
participants exercised, the more weight they lost.
But the low-amount/moderate intensity groups also showed
significantly greater improvements than the non-exercise group. For example,
compared with the non-exercisers, all groups significantly decreased their
These findings strongly suggest that, absent other changes in
diet, a higher amount of activity is necessary for weight maintenance, write
researcher Cris A. Slentz, PhD, of Duke University Medical Center, and
colleagues. "Most individuals can accomplish this by walking 30 minutes a