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Exercise: It's an hour a day, people. Seriously.

July 29, 2008 |  9:53 am

That 30 minutes of daily exercise you think you’re supposed to do to keep weight off? You need to step it up, people. As much as twice that amount may be needed to lose weight and keep it off.

ExerciseA recent study found that overweight and obese women needed to exercise about an hour a day, five days a week to sustain weight loss. The findings bolster what some health experts — and those who have lost weight and kept it off — have been saying for years: copious amounts of exercise and adherence to a strict diet are necessary to take off the pounds and keep them at bay.

The women who exercised more and stuck to their diets kept off a 10% weight loss over two years, compared with others who maintained only 5%. The report, which appeared in the July 28 issue of Archives of Internal Medicine, studied 201 women during an intervention that spanned from 1999 to 2003. All the women were asked to consume 1,200 to 1,500 calories a day, and they were 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 follow-up calls via telephone.

Six months later, all four groups had lost an average of 8% to 10% of their body weight. But it didn’t last. After two years, the average weight of all participants was only 5% lower than their initial weight, and there was no difference among the groups.

But some did better than average. About a quarter of the women who managed to sustain a 10% weight loss exercised more, adhered to better eating habits and engaged more often by phone with the intervention team. For them, exercise amounted to an average of expending 1,835 calories a week, or 275 minutes per week.

"This clarifies the amount of physical activity that should be targeted for achieving and sustaining this magnitude of weight loss, but also demonstrates the difficulty of sustaining this level of physical activity," wrote the authors (headed up by John Jakicic, director of the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh), who also recommended further research to discover how to continue to motivate people to exercise.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo credit: Robert Lachman / Los Angeles Times

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Comments (126)

Drop the TV and go outside for anything. Even to relax. An hour a day in front of the boob tube is what is killing us. WIll you really miss the 6 Oclock news which you can get at 9! Maybe the schools will start to have gym classes again

I could stand to lose a little, like most people. But really, I only have one thing to say to all the people who are saying snide, prejudiced things to the "fatties." Overweight people may be able to lose weight someday, if they need to, or if they so choose, and it won't be easy. But skinny people like you will be mean, insensitive jerks for your entire lives. Thanks, I'd rather be overweight.

This reminds me of my favorite cartoon. A doctor talking to his middle-aged male patient. He said so, since you don't have an hour a day to exercise, do you have 24 hours a day to be dead?

It's that simple.

OMG! Reading the whining and "it's impossible!" and "unrealistic" comments here gves me HBP! You show me someone who says 1 hr of exercise/day is unrealistic or unreasonable and I'll show you someone who knows who got kicked off American Idol or Dancing with the Stars or puts in a good chunk of their time per week on some other "hobby" that is not as important as their health. Not only can you maintain your weight loss via what this article confirms, but it is also possible to lose weight and take in twice as many calories. I've done it. The mystery factor? Walking 2-3 hours/day. I've never considered walking exercise, but when I lost 10 lbs in a month while consuming 3000-4000 calories a day of amazing Italian food, no one can argue with my results. No one.

In order to maintain my weight, so I can eat really good food and consume adult beverages on the weekend, I take in 1200-1400 calories/day during the week and put in 9-12 hours/week of cardio (running biking ellipitcal) plus time weight training and ab work throughout the day. I may have to get up a little earlier and go to sleep later, but it's worth the investment. I look and feel better and can do more because I am in better physical and mental shape.

I've seen people put more time and energy into scrapbooking or internet trolling or mindless TV than they do on their health, so don't tell me you don't have the time. Just admit the obvious: You have the time, you just choose not to. People do what they really want to do. (The gospel according to Cindy, Rule No. 3).

If you do something you enjoy it's not a chore. Some people are active at work so that is part of their exercise whether they are aware of it or not. People who are at a desk all day do need to do some type of exercise or take the consequences. It seems like common sense to me.

You are what you eat. It's a corny saying but ultimately it's true. The healthier you eat, the healthier you will look and feel. Try cutting out unnecessary fat and you will reap the benefits. Exercise doesn't have to be a daunting task. Break it up into activities you actually enjoy. 15-30 minutes a day is adequate as long as you eat healthy.

How many articles do we need to read to convince people that excercise and healthy eating habits is a must? I am tired of society adjusting to people who have no self control with food. An hour a day is nothing, instead of watching TV or sitting in front of a computer, go excercise!

I just read an article today on MSN about how your neighborhood could make you fat...............Holy smokes! Nothing makes you fat except your own habits.

We are fatter than our ancestors because 1) we do a LOT less physical work than they used to and 2) in times of famine, which were endemic, it was the fatter folks who SURVIVED. It doesn't surprise me one bit that exercise of at least one hour a day is needed to sustain weight loss. Farming, hunting, gathering, blacksmithing, washing clothes and sheets by hand, walking several miles each day, for most people...just look at what our ancestors used to do all day. I'm overweight, but my job is almost entirely sedentary (and I commute by car), and I know that if I want to lose weight again it's going to entail more exercise. And I'm with the ones who say, look at how much TV or computer time we spend each day. Hey, I could be going for a walk right now...hmm...

"People, let’s be realistic…one person in one hundred may be able to exercise one hour each day. What about the rest of us?"

All it takes is a commitment. How much TV do you watch? Do you drive a car to work, the store, on errands? What do you during your lunch break? Do take the elevator or stairs? Me and my wife work together so that we each get at least an hour 5 days per week. We have two kids, full time jobs, and half acre and house to maintain, and all the normal family activities. On the weekends, we each usually do 2 hours each day. The kids are starting to join us as they get older too. We just work it in. It's a commitment. Once you are there, other things get lined up in order. And I am more alert and productive at work and home because of it.

seems like the best approach is not to get fat in the first place. increase awareness at a younger age, teach good eating habits and promote youth recreational activities.

An hour a day is easy. Get rid of the car and bicycle everywhere. Not only do you lose weight, but you have a lot of money in your pocket at the end of the day too.

Did It Myself is right on. What a success story. And it's all true. It's all about liking yourself and enjoying the process of helping yourself look and feel better. When you're in the zone, it's not work work at all. It's fun work taking care of yourself for you and and for the ones you love. The only comment I can make is that the older you get, the harder it will be. A person who trained him/herself since young adulthood won't have near the trouble of keeping fit as someone who let themselves go most of their life then in advanced years try to maintain reasonable health. It's never too late to begin training ones metabolic structure. The sooner you start the better.

Before you all jump all over me for calling you out, I work out an hour every day, eat right, bla bla bla.

But many of you sound like a bunch of elitists. Not everyone lives in a neighborhood where "getting outside" is feasible or where healthy foods are readily available. Some people live in places where it would be unsafe for them to walk around or "relax" or bike to work.

Some people work jobs where they don't get an hour off for lunch. And they aren't allowed to go milling about (or its not safe to) on what time they do get for lunch. The suggestions you so flippantly put forth aren't readily available for every community.

I feel really lucky to live in a community where I have easy access to the gym, green spaces, and healthy foods. Before you go ranting about who is lazy and who is not, maybe you should realize the lifestyle your able to lead is not readily available to everyone.

Just a thought.

In trying to lose weight, I ( a formerly super fat) individual can say: Anyone who calls this "easy" has a very different view on life than most of us. I agree with AM, how many people honestly can "get out" whenever they feel like it? I live in Indian Hill, Ohio (the place where they filmed Traffic, nice open etc.). I walk out my front door, hop on the bike, and within 10 minutes I'm on a trail our Village maintains for biking and horseback riding. I can afford to eat good, quality food. "Organic" and all that. I lost lots of weight because yes, I made an effort, but I had the tools readily at had to help me get there. People who live in certain parts of the downtown area of my city cannot go outside because of such endemic crime etc. I feel for them. They have no fresh markets, no parks and in some areas, no sidewalks to go on.

It's only "easy" if you have all the right pieces for the puzzle. If you all like walking so much, walk in someone else's shoes for awhile.

i'm an elitist. yeah top of my game, figuring it out myself by thinking and trying. the new thing that digs a deep hole for us is excess sugar, which includes whole grains - if you don't need the dense calories, just don't eat it.

at night it's crucial to eat protein then dense carbs, and the latter only if you actually need it. most people don't which causes the cravings that make it so difficult to start. rather than eat dense carbs sub it with veggies instead. the *key* is to change the habit at *dinner*, the end of day when you ultimately balance out the day's net calorie count towards either positive or negative.

by balancing out your calories backed by high quality proteins supplemented by right density carbs and exercise, you'll feel 10 times stronger and think a lot clearer and faster. top it off with a good [costco] multivitamin, b-complex and fish oil (neptune krill rocks) and you'll feel like a different human being.

Oh come on. 1 hour a day is easy! Get a bike! Every weekday I bike 20 miles to work and 20 miles back. It takes me 3-4 hours. 1 hour is NOTHING!!!

i just eat cereal and some toast and some fruit when i wake up, and then some crackers and a busiciut for lunch and then i have someting like soup for dinner and some bread and juice and then cereal when i wake up. i think people should live liike me and be healthy and old.

This makes sense. Man (and Woman) has been on this planet a long time. Much of our time was spent walking, working, hunting, gathering, and generally being active. Only in the past couple hundred years have we had true leisure time and only in the past 50 the wealth to afford as much food as we want to cram in our mouths.

Get out, mimic cave man (and woman) behavior - run around, swim, walk, up and down hills, do stuff every day. Also mimic the cave man diet - eat MORE fresh ripe delicious raw fruits, vegetables, juices, eggs, WATER, and have meat, poultry and fish and beer/wine moderately (celebration of the successful hunt).

Another tip - time is short - absolutely have to go to fast food ? Limit yourself to ONE item from the $ 1 Value Menu (any item) and get a FREE tap water (no soda). You will save money and calories/fat.

I have done this for 20 years and run 2 businesses and am at my ideal weight and feel great. Long live the Cave Man !

I say, "let them eat cake" if the want!

Thanks everyone for posting such great comments. It's so great to hear all your wisdom! You are all so informative and wise. Thanks so much and I'll keep reading all your posts!


it seems like the best approach to me is not to get fat in the first place. increase awareness at a younger age group, teach good eating habits and promote youth recreational activities people.

People, you are what you eat. It's a corny saying but ultimately it's very very true. The healthier you eat food, the healthier you will look and feel about food. Try cutting out unnecessary fat and you will reap the benefit! Exercise don't have to be a daunting task. Break it up into activities you actually enjoy doing while doing them. 150-300 minutes a day is adequate as long as you eat healthily.

In my case I was 5' 10 inches tall and 196 pounds. I was doing 30 minutes of cardio every day and eating extremely healthy food. Unfortunately I wasn't losing any weight. The problem is that I was eating healthy food but I was eating too much of it. For example, I was eating brown rice but I was eating three servings of brown rice. Over the course of a year, I went to the doctor twice to have my blood tested and my fasting blood sugar kept going up. First it was 99 and then it was 110. The doctor used the word pre-diabetes and suggested I try to lose some weight. Having watched my dad shoot up insulin for the past five years, that was enough to scare me.

I bought a food scale and started counting my calories. Since February, I've been eating a baseline of 1680 calories a day. I go to the gym each day and do an hour of cardio. How ever many calories I burn exercising, I add to my 1680 calories. Today, for example I did an hour on the elliptical trainer and I'm eating around 2400 calories. Essentially I eat my exercise which gives me an incentive to work out.

Bottom line, since February I have lost 27 pounds, I'm eating lots of healthy snacks (making sure I stick to my caloric total) and I haven't been hungry once. I am now 169 pounds. My fasting blood sugar has gone from 110 to 85 and my blood pressure, which was borderline is now normal.

As for not having an hour a day to exercise. In my case I was watching an hour a day of TV. I still watch my TV but I now do it at the gym watching shows that I put on my IPOD.

I adhere to a diet of the four essential food groups: alcohol, sugar, fat, and salt.

i have personal experment (7yr.)with weight lose , believe me people only diet is ratiional solution for weght lose, yes, we need excersice for general health and it is very important

This is a prime example of irresponsible journalism, or a classic case of "wagging the dog", so to speak. I don't know who's paying off reporters to bastardize this report, but it is totally irresponsible to fudge facts and figures and manipulate data just to sell the news. If you read the report critically, it contains inaccurate data after the first 3 months, and even the data supplied to the researchers was voluntary.

It is a known fact that if a person maintains a standard diet of 2500 calories/ day, then all that is needed to sustain one's weight is a target heart rate appropriate for one's weight and age, for approximately 22 minutes of exercise per day. Anything over 22 minutes starts burning reserve calories, which we call fat.

Once again, tabloid journalism is running amuck in America, as the LA Times is not the only syndicated paper running this fictitious story. When is someone going to take charge and start cracking down on hack reporters?



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