Linda woke up at 5 AM, like she does every morning, for her daily workout before work. This was her routine five days per week for 30-45 minutes per day. Her exercise varied each day; sometimes she did some weight training, other days she walked outside with girlfriends, and in the warmer months, she sometimes swam laps.
At 43 years old, her main goal was to prevent weight gain and keep up with her active grandchildren. Of course boosting self esteem and improving her confidence were up there too.
But there was a panic in her voice when she called us the other day when the results of a new study were released – suggesting that just to maintain body weight, women needed to exercise for 60 minutes per day, 7 days/week.
A study released earlier this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association tracked body weight in over 34,000 women who were an average of 54 years old at the start of the 13 year study.
During this period, women gained nearly 6 lbs.
This is compared to most Americans who gain around 1.5 lbs each year between 25 and 55 years of age.
The goal of the study was to see how much exercise is needed to prevent weight gain without a change in diet.
And the conclusion was that women need to exercise at a moderate intensity for 7 hours each week. Those who met this higher level of regular exercise gained fewer than the nearly 6 lbs most women in the study gained.
Few things going on here.
- Remember this was without a specific dietary change. Losing or trying to prevent weight gain without changing your nutrition is not smart. Exercise doesn’t work … without a change in diet.
- Don’t look at this 7 hours per week and get overwhelmed thinking you have no hope if you just do 30-60 minutes 5 days/week. All exercise is incredible for you. Make smart nutrition decisions as well.
- They didn’t compare different exercise intensities in this study – high intensity exercise is more effective for weight loss and weight gain prevention.
Take Home Point.
Take the results of this study, like all studies, with a grain of salt. We all need to move more, but don’t think that if you’re not doing structured exercise for 7 hours every single week, all hope is lost. That being said, as men and women age, it is more difficult to maintain body weight so don’t slack off now.
Eat clean 90% of the time. Move as much as possible. Make time for structured exercise. Ramp up the intensity of what you're currently doing.