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Fitness Findings continued...

Those results take other factors into consideration, including age, BMI, race, and hormone therapy.

The women's weight didn't change, but the study wasn't designed for weight loss and didn’t require dieting or changing eating habits.

Blood pressure also didn't change during the study, except for a slight drop in blood pressure in the women who got the most exercise. Weight loss or more intense exercise might have been more beneficial to the women's blood pressure, Church's team notes.

How Much Exercise?

It's no secret that exercise is good for you, provided that you get a doctor's approval first and stick to a sensible exercise plan to avoid injury.

"Nearly all individuals understand that there are health benefits associated with physical activity, yet approximately one in five U.S. adults report no physical activity at all," write Church and colleagues, adding that lack of time is the main reason people cite for not being more active.

The researchers aren't ready to recommend cutting public health recommendations to get at least 150 minutes of weekly exercise.

But they say their study should be considered when exercise recommendations are revised.

'Encouraging' Results

Questions still remain about exercise schedules, notes editorialist I-Min Lee, MBBS, ScD.

Lee works in the preventive medicine department at Harvard Medical School and Boston's Brigham & Women's Hospital.

For instance, Lee notes that it's not clear if the women would have gotten similar fitness results from short exercise sessions held several times daily or by only exercising on weekends.

Still, Lee notes that people who aren't active should find the study's data "encouraging, because they indicate that an achievable dose of physical activity may be sufficient to begin reaping health benefits."

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