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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)

get a stationary bike, place it in front of your tv and as your watching your favorite show work also that bike and pedal like your about to win the tour de france. dont stop until the show also ends. do this everyday and before you know it your fit enough to join the ironman triathlon.

This is news?

I've known this for years.

And working out an hour day is NOT hard.

Maybe a person will have to work up to it, but it is not impossible to achieve.

Believe in yourselves.

Just because a person is "thin" (by our standards) does not mean that person is a picture of health. Maybe that person eats junk all day and never exercises but has a high metabolism. Maybe that person doesn't eat at all.

Some people are pre-disposed to appearing "heavy" (by our standards) and will never be "thin" no matter a healthy diet or 2 hours of exercise or more a day. This does not mean all "heavy" people are less healthy than all "thin" people.

Quite wasting time judging others and take care of yourself.

I've learned to make an hour a day to walk and to lift light weights every other day. For me, it's not how fast or far I walk but my heart rate when doing so. To get the most amount of fat burning, keep our heart at 65-70% of its maximum rate. To calculate your maximum rate, subtract your age from 220. I'm 56 so my maximum heart rate is around 164. So my best fat burn comes at a brisk walk keeping my heart rate at 164 x .65 which equals 106. Easy to do. It's a light sweat and not too hard to maintain. For weights, I lift 15 lb dumbells in a variety of exercises.

The people sneering about others that find an hour a day difficult are both foolish and cruel.

I leave for work at seven and get home at eight that night. Toss in an hour for exercise and, say, a half-hour for dressing, shower, etc, and you have me done by 9:30 at night. That leaves me, what?, an hour for dinner, laundry and family intimacy.

If you find that easy, then you have other parts of your life that you are leaving parts of your life sadly neglected, or you have a much easier life than some of us.


You are so right. I live in Southern Nevada. In the summer, even in the early morning hours it can be in the 80s and 90s. And exercising in the daytime? In 110 degree weather? Forget about it. People die doing that.

I also used to live in Michigan. Exercise outside? In a snowstorm? In sub-zero weather? With ice on the ground?

What about those who live in crime-ridden areas? Oh, they should just move? Gee, why didn't THEY think of that? They must be stupid to live in crime-ridden areas, huh? I mean smart people don't live around crime.

I am extremely lucky to live around the corner from my gym (I can even walk there) AND to be able to afford the monthly payment. My apartment complex even has a pool. I am also lucky to be physically able enough to exercise.

I also recognize that I am fortunate AND that others may not be. If the judges out there are so worried about the "fatties", I ask what are YOU doing to help those who are not as fortunate as you? Get over yourselves. You are not all that.

losing weight it is most likely to we are what we are eat,thats why we dont care our body weight.actually i also have the same problem.our company set (compulsory)program that everyone have to do medical check-up and that will give a tag as green yellow and red.that red tag will must go gym at 9 times per month is compulsory....if you dont get 9 times they will give us yuo think thid is good idea?

It is simple:

If you are fat and want to lose weight, exercise an hour a day.

If you are fat and DON'T want to lose weight, then DON'T exercise an hour a day.

The choice is yours, there is no miracle drug. BTW, exercise is anything physical: yard work counts, and so does WALKING. Which, if you're fat, walking is the best way to do it.. ONE. HOUR. PER. DAY.

That is it, you can do it!

One of the biggest fault people make is to only consider the time spent exercising, without and focus on intensity.

If you are exercising on 'cruise control', 30 minutes on easy street will not produce much in the way of results.

Increase your intensity...even if only for 1 minute out of every 5.

It may very well be true that many cannot make time for 1 hour of exercise...however...anyone can make time for a fast paced 30 minutes, and there is no excuse for poor eating choices.

Sate of Mind - Fuel - Activity. These 3 aspects done properly are vital.

Personally I think it's close to immoral to tell women to go on a semi-starvation diet, and then do an hour of moderate exercise a day. Can you say, catabolism city?

We were given no information at all on the composition of those 1200-1500 calories. Was it 55-60% carb? well no wonder.

If they had the ladies just not take in excess starch, sugar, they wouldn't have had to exercise like maniacs to get through the dietary energy before they even got to the stored fat. As it is I wonder what happened to those poor ladies' LBM after two years of such a prescription. Depends how smart they are individually about getting nutrient needs met I guess.

I disagree--you don't need an hour for long lasting results. I'm a corporate Wellcoach--I've been doing more with less time for years. A couple of things need to be in place--good joint function with a person so they can do the shorter and higher intensity "interval" workouts that increase metabolism more than longer and slower workouts. These shorter and more productive workouts are more motivating to individuals because they work faster! These workouts also tend to produce more Human Growth Hormone (anti aging) and more testosterone (some attitude along with muscle!), and more endorphin response; thus, you feel better both chemically and physically.

The most interesting point of this article? While at an American College of Sports Medicine Health/Fitness Summit a few years ago, John Jakicic PhD was presenting on a panel with other "so called" exercise adherence experts. Someone in the crowd had a brilliant question--what do you guys do for your own personal exercise program? The room went deathly silent. The panel experts froze like deer in headlights! And the very famous exercise researcher Jakicic had to admit in front of a room full of colleagues that he himself did not exercise because he did not have time...he was too busy researching why people didn't exercise and telling them to start--even when he didn't do it himself!!! At best the other experts only jogged a few days a week. NONE of them had a serious level of fitness which in my opinion is tragic considering these were the top names in exercise adherence research!

My people can blow that 60 minute program out of the water--we do it everyday! Behaviorally, I never ask my clients to go over 30-45 minutes because it's just too much of a behavioral change for most Americans today. Be realistic. It's not all about research. It's about the real world and real people dealing with real stress. Give them the right support and tools, and they WILL do more in less time. 60 minutes? It's hard today just to get people to do 6 minutes! Force 60 minutes on them and they won't even try.

In health--for LIFE!
Ron Jones, MS, Licensed Corporate Wellcoach

It's all about calories and exercise - When you're overweight; dieting (less calories is needed) combined with "more exercise. Once your weight goal is achieved.... hopefully, you can find the right equalibrium between how much you're eating and how much exercise you need to burn off all those calories. If you don't want to exercise for a full hour, then eat less!

I don't believe 99% of the commenters on here who are nagging "fat people" about being lazy and stuffing cheetos down their throats constantly that they themselves are exercising AN HOUR A DAY EVERYDAY. Time to get off the soapboxes you bunch of hypocrites!

The real problem here is that weight discrimination is the only type of discrimination that is still blatantly okay. In fact, it's downright fashionable.

If you look closely at the results of this study, it doesn't sound all that impressive! After 2 YEARS of exercising an hour everyday, people who did the best only kept off a maximum of 10% weightloss. At my current weight, that's a minimum of 730 hours of exercise for a mere 13.5lbs. You could also look at it as 54 hours of exercise PER POUND of weightloss I want to maintain.

This is the part that really gets me though: "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."
1. The AVERAGE maintained weighloss was only 5% (that would only amount to 6.5lbs in my case, big deal?)
2. THIS SUGGESTS THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE GROUPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Aka: Those who exercised less than an hour a day and those who exercised an hour a day did not have statistically different weightloss results! The conclusions of the article are WRONG! It's not conclusively an hour a day. Seriously.

TQ White II - do you not get a lunch hour? Before I was a stay at home mom and I was a legal assistant I did it on my lunch hour. Now I babysit and have children and I use naptime to exercise. That is my lunch hour at home because believe me I had more alone time when I worked. Also, if you leave at 7:00 a.m. and don't get home until 8:00 p.m., I would venture to guess that there are many areas of your life that are sadly neglected. There is a thing called balance. You obviously have chosed a career path that keeps you busy 14-15 hours a day. Maybe you need to slow down and take care of yourself a little bit better. Unless you are working all those hours to make ends meet or are you working all those hours to have more stuff?

The Atkins Diet & 45 minutes of cardio daily.
This is what it takes for me to lose weight & it works wonders.

Sweat equity always pays off.

Mind over matter.

I'm too lazy to exercise

I’ve lost 50lbs and kept off all of it. I didn’t cut anything out of diet completely. Salt? Still eat it. Diet drinks? Still drink them. Refined sugar? In my coffee right now. Ice cream? Had some last night. Chocolate? You betcha! Carbs? I love pasta and potatoes.

I exercise when I feel like it and that’s not often especially in the summer heat.

I simply made better food choices and ate smaller portions. I’ve completely changed the way I eat. No point in going on a diet just to revert back to old eating habits. The changes I made are changes I’ll keep for the rest of my life. Some times my friends don’t think I eat enough during the day. I also lost the weight slowly.

50lbs gone for 2+ years. Now, I’m gunning for another 50. It’ll happen…slowly, but it will happen.

We live in a world where the better you look the better you're treated. This, yes, is unfortunate, but true. On the flip side of that the better you look the better you feel. If just flat out feeling better is not enough to motivate people. I'm not sure where to go or what to say to people about this. It becomes like the old saying "you can lead a horse to water...". Perhaps this is natural selection at its finest.

Also, how dare any of you use your children as an excuse not to exercise. Children, for the most part, are in a constant state of movement and if your actually watching them or interacting with them you should be in the same state of constant movement yourself. So your either lying about not exercising when being around your kids or you take some kind of twisted pride in your poor or non-existent parenting skills that you would be admitting it here.

The same old, tired, and beaten down excuses are spewed out from the majority of these comments. "I don't have the extra hour to exercise...I work all day and have to run errands afterward..." perhaps if you didn't shop at the Walmart with the McDonald's inside of it you would be in a bit better shape (I make no excuses for my brilliant pun). And the next time I walk in to the fore mentioned Walmart to buy a dvd or some duct-tape and I see another child eating fries out of a "large" drink cup (more commonly referred to as the "bucket-o-fries") I'm calling CPS. Not only do you, yourselves, overindulge in food your teaching your children the same, disgusting, eating habits.

An hour a day is the minimum and is entirely doable if you commit yourself. Put it in the morning, at lunch, and after work. Do it in half hour chunks if necessary. Yoga 2-4 times per week, cardio at least 5-6 days a week, circuit train 3x per week. Spend the money and use a trainer to start; if you are invested you will not quit. Do that for a month and you won;t quit. Your can do it and still have a career and family time, in fact, both will be better for it. We are all animals; the healthy ones survive, unhealthy ones don't.

More exercise ups the metabolism; but the greater factor is you can eat more because you have created a calorie deficit by more exercise. I love it - I am a trainer and log all of my food and exercise into a program - it's a fact you get to indulge a little more, the payoff, for exercising more. Don't try to lose more than 1 or 2 pounds a week - be happy - "eat 'em up, Yum-Yum (Uncle George from the Little Rascals)

I have been working our on my treadmill for an hour everyday for the past 3 weeks. I have only lost 6 pounds. Does this seem bad or good? I was expecting more seeing as I have also cut way back on my eating as well. The one hour on my treadmill comes out to 3 miles a day. I also drink 10 glasses of water a day. I am doing what this article says and yet I just feel I should have lost more? Any comments?

There are some great ideas out here folks.
I think 2 hours a day is the rule.
I resigned from a computer job, & began physical labor in sprinkler system installs & other landscaping, & it took me 5 years to get to where my hands, back, and body weren't constantly aching. So, this sedentary life we live(12 years of computers for me) with the "30 minutes of exercise/day" won't cut it. Your body has 100's of muscles. To get a truly comprehensive workout, we need about 2 hours to cover the field, but work up to it.
Remember the farmers of yesteryear? They worked physically (like hell, as some have said) from 5 am to 12midnight 6 days a week, all their lives; some lived to be 100 years & older. They did this eating off the land, fruits, vegetables, & raw milk, farm fresh eggs, clean water, & fresh air. No food additives! So, we have a lot to do to catch them physically, especially if we've been sitting for 5 or 10 years. I know, I went from 221 down to 178 in about 6 months. At 221, I think everything hurt--fee, ankles, knees, back, neck, what else is there? Everything hurt! Carrying the pounds is not fun, nor pain-free, nor is it attractive. Besides, being outdoors for exercise is exhilarating, it will cheer you up & change your entire attitude, & you will meet people! Try it on for size. You can do it. It takes a little time, but remember Thomas Jefferson accomplished a lot, for instance: wrote Decl. of Independence, was Secretary of State, Pres. of US. twice, had a farm, inventor, lawyer, etc, and he said,

"No less than 2 hours should be devoted to exercise daily."

Whoa! Did he really say that? Do you want to accomplish more....MORE than you ever thought possible? Then get off your couch and go run or walk 10 steps. Then go to 20 steps tomorrow. Burn your couch, & kill your TV-one of the funniest bumper stickers I ever saw. Not really, but the point is, the world is a-waiting for America to wake up & come to life...come to fitness America! There are opportunities waiting for each of us, like emotional growth, financial growth, social contributions, if we will get after it. Have a super day. & a fantastic, terrific life. I Love you all.

this messages was really helpful everday i do 1 hour of exirzise

The starvation suggestion was ridiculous!
Most people out there have seen "the biggest loser" show. Yes, we all know that exercise definitely helps. There are many times too when someone works their butt off and looses zero pounds! Everyone's body shape and metabolism is different not to mention their home life. The people who have to work 2 or more jobs to make ends meet -- their time is going to be extremely limited to most likely sleeping, working, and eating. I am appalled by the generalized "lazy" comments.

I am 42 and was very active up until 2 years ago when I suffered a bad foot injury. Until then I could usually maintain my weight but could never loose no matter what I tried. I ate good food, & was even a vegetarian. When I suffered a bad foot injury,I could not hike for over a year. In that time, I gained 40 pounds which only made my foot injury more painful. Some of these commentators would have labelled me as "lazy" or "fat Slob" if they had seen me. I started walking at lunch and at night but still kept gaining weight. I felt like I was sinking in a hole because even though I was exercising, it wasn't helping. My Doctor took some tests and found out that I had hypothyroidism for many years. (Even as a teen, and no one ever tested for it before). And that was why even as an active person, my body would not loose weight. I realize that not everyone has that condition but many people do. I keep thinking how incredible thoughtless to just label an overweight person as "lazy or fat".

In my teens and twenties, I always stayed at size 14 despite being very active and eating healthy, hiking/ running several miles a day. I would be estatic to stay that size now but in my 20's, I was encouraged to "loose a few." like I was somehow overweight. I look back now and think what the?? I was in the best shape of my life and someone was basing my health on my physical size. What a crock!

Anyhow, for the people with limited time, I hope that there is a little break somewhere in your day when you can take a minute for yourself, walk when you can (even if it's in a hallway, to the bathroom, or around a building where you work)and take some deep breaths and stretch. For food try to make good choices, if you go fast food, go for salads, Mc'Ds has fruit and yogurt, and grilled sandwiches, cut the fries out. And when you get home, find a minute or two to unwind for yourself. Stress is a biggest culprit in weight gain, the dishes can wait, take moment for you.
Good luck everyone

I dont think there is anything biologically different in most fat people. They must exercise that much more than normal/thin weight people because they have to get rid of excess fat and not just maintain their normal weight. When they get down to a normal weight they wont need to work out as much.



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