Wednesday, May 02, 2007

People who consistently engage in high levels of exercise are the most successful at losing weight and keeping it off

NEW YORK (Reuters) -- 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 26 pounds, compared with 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

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,



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