How to keep the weight off? Exercise required, says study. But think creatively!

by James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H.

An article in the most recent issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine attempts to discover what it takes to keep weight off after losing it. The participants lost an average of 8 to 10 percent of their original body weight after a year but gained back 5 percent by year two even while trying to stick with the same regimen. That is, all but one group, who kept all of their weight off.

These people had increased their physical activity level to an expenditure of 1,800 calories per week or more. This calculates out to 275 minutes of moderate exercise per week, or 55 minutes for five days per week (about twice the usual minimal recommendations for heart health). These same people telephoned in for counseling more often, so group support may have helped them. It also leads to the question of whether they may have been more compulsive in sticking with the recommended calorie intake.

At any rate, that seems like a lot of exercise and time to the average person. Please don’t be discouraged. The people in the study took from six months to a year to get to that level of increased activity.

A commentary in the same issue, by different authors, makes an excellent point. All the extra calorie expenditure does not have to come from formal exercise. Just change your habits a bit also. Any calorie expendature counts–no, not sitting around, or taking a pill to “lose weight while sleeping.” But what about gardening or housework? You could walk to the mailbox or for the paper instead of getting it from your car. Climb a flight of stairs. Park so you have to walk a few extra steps to your destination. It all depends on getting into healthy, permanent habits–things you gradually don’t even have to think about.

What about a little resistance training like a few push-ups, or barbells to increase strength, muscle and metabolism?

I know others have good ideas I’ve left out.

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6 Responses to “How to keep the weight off? Exercise required, says study. But think creatively!”

  1. Judy Rodman Says:

    I seem to need to pair my exercising off with something else I need to do… to multi-task. So, to give myself a better chance that I WILL exercise, I do it while I’m also: listening to educational or marketing mp3s, watching a DVD I need to do for research purposes, etc. Otherwise, I’ll feel that I don’t have time to take care of myself with exercise. Dumb, but true.

    Judy Rodmans last blog post..Auditions for "Oliver!" Circle Players, Nashville production

  2. jhubbard Says:

    Good idea. It seems like a great time to multitask. I think a lot of people do that, Judy.

  3. Blake Hagen Says:

    Great ideas on being creative with physical activity. I love to park far away from where ever I’m going…sometimes it drives my wife crazy. ;) she likes that i’m trying to be healthy though!

    Blake Hagens last blog post..Walk, Swim, Bike, Run. What’s Better?

  4. James Hubbard, M.D., M.P.H Says:

    Good for you Blake. My wife fusses a little also.

  5. Mark Salinas Says:

    Keeping active seems to work for me. I agree…park further away at a shopping mall, skip the elevator etc. Good tips!

    Mark Salinass last blog post..Last Week Linkin’…

  6. James Hubbard’s My Family Doctor Blog » Blog Archive » Health resolutions I actually may keep Says:

    [...] I feel better and look forward to it.  I will try to build it up to 300 minutes per week, since a recent report showed you need, at least, 275 minutes per week to keep weight off.  An old friend, Jimmy, suggested I keep up with my miles and chart a goal, such as walking to New [...]

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