For women, battle of bulge just got tougher

CHICAGO Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:16pm EDT

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CHICAGO (Reuters) - Women need to get at least an hour a day of moderate exercise if they hope to ward off the creep of extra pounds that comes with aging, U.S. researchers said on Tuesday.

The weekly total of 420 minutes is nearly triple the 150 minutes of moderate daily exercise currently recommended by U.S. health officials and illustrates the challenge American women face in maintaining a healthy weight.

Winning that war will require individuals to make changes in their daily routines -- like walking or biking to work -- but it may also take a shift in policy to make it easier for people in fit exercise into their lives, researchers said.

Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses, and adding about $150 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

"From a public health perspective, it would be better to prevent the weight gain in the first place," said I-Min Lee of Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School in Boston, whose study appears in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Lee said there is ample research on people who are already overweight, but little on how to prevent weight gain as people grow older.

Current U.S. exercise recommendations differ, with 2008 guidelines recommending 150 minutes of moderate exercise -- brisk walking, gardening, ballroom dancing -- as a way to improve overall health, and a 2002 report by the Institute of Medicine, one of the National Academies of Sciences, recommending an hour a day.

If people exercise vigorously, by running or cycling hard, for instance, less time is needed to get the same benefits.


Lee's team studied the guidelines in more than 34,000 healthy U.S. women with an average age of 54 who ate a typical American diet.

The women reported their weight and weekly exercise totals in the first year, and then at 3-year intervals from 1992 to 2007.

Over the course of the study, the women gained an average of 5.7 pounds (2.6 kg) overall.

Only 13 percent of women in the study maintained a healthy weight throughout the study -- and those who got an hour of exercise a day on average or more were by far the most likely to be in that group.

"Only in this group of women did we find physical activity was associated with less weight gain," Lee said. For the heaviest women, no amount of exercise helped, they found. They needed to diet, also.

Lee said the results suggest that the current recommendations of two and a half hours per week are not enough to keep middle-aged women from gaining weight as they age.

Lee said women should not let the findings discourage them from exercising at all, but they may want to make small changes now to prevent later weight gain.

"I think the easiest thing is actually commuting," she said, suggesting people walk or bike to work, and if they drive, to park farther away from the office.

If seven hours a week are just too hard to fit in, Lee said people might want to consider vigorous exercise such as jogging, which can cut the weekly time requirement in half.

And she said policymakers need to consider changes that make it easier for people to exercise, such as building sidewalks or bike lanes that make it easier and safer for people to exercise.

(Editing by Maggie Fox and Sandra Maler)

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Comments (11)
rcastle wrote:
420 minutes/week of walking/gardening/ballroom dancing= chronic cardio. Add some high intensity weight lifting and the whole equation changes. Yoga/pilates for flexibility and now you’re ready for life.

Mar 23, 2010 4:48pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
abolsen wrote:
Interesting that the title says the battle of the bulge got tougher. I’d say the opposite; if you know what you ACTUALLY need to be doing to lose weight, the battle of the bulge just got a lot easier.

Mar 23, 2010 5:13pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
VitaminD3Man wrote:
If women want to lose weight the natural way the first thing they need to do is check their serum vitamin D level(25 OH).


It is now a fact that low vitamin D levels contribute to weight gain. Since almost everyone, especially blacks and minorities are chronically deficient during winter months this is a good time to find out the facts. A HEALTHY, NATURAL level of activated vitamin D is at least 50 ng/ml, year round. It is not the prevailing 30 ng/ml as so often cited by medical professionals. That 30 ng/ml was literally based on a “guesstimate” (SWAG). A bunch of men sat around a table and deduced what they thought was a level of sufficiency based on thread bare facts.

If you have ever wondered why you put on weight in the winter here is the answer: Low vitamin D.

A couple of recent studies determined that for every ng/ml of increasing vitamin D level the subjects lost about 1/2 lb. Since most people are typically 25-30 ng/ml below the NATURAL, HEALTHY level of 50 ng/ml they could reasonably expect to lose around 15 lbs. The figure is loose and subject to variation based on BMI and personal traits.

Vitamin D repletion means that appetite is naturally suppressed. That is many people find themselves less likely to experience cravings. HEALTHY, NATURAL levels of vitamin D also improve mood and make people more engaging when it comes to starting exercise. It will also improve strength and recovery. Most people feel decades younger when the effect takes hold. This is reported regularly and you will be no different.

All of this is possible because vitamin D is a steroid- the body’s most powerful disease fighter and all around molecule for health.

“Vitamin” D is anything but a vitamin. It is by far the most misunderstood molecule in the world. Read up on it and educate your doctors. They learned next to nothing in school. What they were taught was almost completely wrong. For instance it is easier to ODD on water than vitamin Nd. Any doctor warning of toxicity is to be avoided and reeducated.

Expect miracles from vitamin D supplementation to NATURAL, HEALTHY levels. Losing weight without effort is hardly a miracle- compared to the other therapeutic qualities of D. But if it helps people to get back to a healthier world then far be it from me to define any one personal miracles associated with vitamin D.

Mar 23, 2010 5:15pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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