According to a new study, ‘moving more, more often’ can aid long-term weight loss. Published in the Obesity Journal, the study found that moving more rather than structured exercise can keep the weight off.
Titled ‘Intervening on Exercise and Day-long Movement for Weight-loss Maintenance in Older Adults’, the study — published by Wake Forest University, North Carolina — followed 183 men and women aged 65 to 85 as they took on a six-month dietary weight loss and physical activity regimen, with check-ins every six months through a maintenance phase at 18 months.
The study picked participants classified as having obesity based on their body mass index, and were offered the same dietary intervention but were divided into three groups for activity coaching:
*Weight loss plus structured exercise, such as treadmill workouts.
*Weight loss plus what researchers call the SitLess intervention, which encourages people to accumulate activity throughout the day by doing things they enjoy, such as walking the dog or gardening.
*Weight loss, structured exercise, and SitLess combined.
Wile the group that focused on weight loss plus SitLess regained the least, at about 5 pounds (2.4kg), the group that followed the weight loss plus exercise-only regimen regained the most, at more than 11 pounds (5.2kg).
“This research is relevant for clinicians and other healthcare providers interested in supporting long-term weight loss among older adults, and for older adults who are personally interested in weight loss and avoiding weight gain,” said Jason Fanning, PhD, assistant professor in the Department of Health and Exercise Science at Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, NC. Fanning is also the corresponding author of the study, and helped develop the smartphone app the study participants used to monitor their daily activity and check in with coaches and other study participants.
“A lot of the messaging is exercise, exercise, exercise,” Fanning said. “I would really like for people to see that accumulating movement across the day has benefits – and sometimes greater benefits – than a focus on only structured exercise.”
Experts stress that being non-sedentary and focusing on physical activity helps improve the morbidity and mortality from heart, kidney and other major organ related disorders.
“There is a landmark study done in over two lakh Australian adults that said that sitting for more than eight hours a day has increased one’s all cause mortality and likewise sitting for less than four hours decreased the same. This confirms the famous adage -‘sitting is the new smoking’. The deleterious effects of smoking on heart, kidney, brain etc are similar to what just sitting for long periods of time in the day can do,” said Dr Dilip Gude, consultant physician, Yashoda Hospitals Hyderabad.
As per Dr Gude, losing body fat also translates in to musculoskeletal benefits like decrease in osteoarthritis and osteopenia. “Decrease in body weight helps improve obstructive sleep apnea and cardiorespiratory reserve, mitigates gallbladder and pancreas disorders, acid peptic diseases etc. Studies have shown that obesity has a direct link with cancers such as breast, endometrial cancers etc and losing weight may translate into protective effects from the same,” Dr Gude added.