One-third of all Americans meet the standards of obesity, and two-thirds qualify as overweight, according to statistics from the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. Considering the number of studies that have shown a direct link exists between obesity and an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and diabetes, millions of Americans face an overwhelming need to lose weight in order to improve their long-term health.
While these numbers seem daunting anytime of year, they certainly become even great food for thought during the holiday season when overeating high calorie foods is as much a tradition as turkey and Santa Claus. At Health First Family Medicine, Hillsboro family doctor Dr. Uba wants all of her patients to enjoy the very best health possible. For most us, fighting to maintain our weight is a struggle all year round.
While diet certainly plays an important role in losing weight, any program that keeps the pounds off must include a daily exercise routine. However, a lot of conflicting answers exist within the medical community about how much daily exercise is enough to lose weight. Well the results of a recent study may have finally given doctors the answer they need when patients ask how long they need to exercise each day to lose weight.
Short but Effective
A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Copenhagen found that exercising for just 30 minutes a day can help overweight adults lose weight just as well as exercising for an hour.
Researchers discovered that moderately overweight men who worked hard enough to break a sweat during their 30-minute workout routine lost an average of eight pounds over a three-month period. In comparison, the average weight loss for men who worked out for an hour a day was only six pound over a three-month period. To explain these surprising results, researchers hypothesized that mentally a 30-minute workout seems so doable that participants were more eager and willing to engage in additional physical activity throughout the day.
In the study, which was recently published in the American Journal of Physiology, participants were placed into either high aerobic or a moderate exercise group. Individuals in the high aerobic group were asked to exercise at a level that would case them to sweat, such as from cycling or running, for at least 60 minutes each day. The individuals in the moderate group only needed to exercise enough to sweat for 30 minutes a day.
After the study’s initial 13 weeks, the results for both groups showed that the moderate exercise group had a similar or better amount of weight loss as the participants who exercised for 60 minutes a day. In fact the men who exercised daily for at least 30 minutes actually lost an average of two pounds more than those who exercised for an hour.
Researchers were also surprised to find that the men who exercised 30 minutes a day were able to burn more daily calories based on their exercise routine than they should have. In contrast to the moderate, the study participants in the high-exercise group actually lost less weight relative to the energy they burned while working out, and the extra 30 minutes they spent at the gym did not seem to burn any additional fat or provide any additional weight loss benefits.
The Benefits of a Shorter Workout
Researchers suspect that the study participants in the moderate group were able to lose more weight for several reasons. By only working out for 30 minutes a day, the moderate participants may have had excess energy they were willing to spend doing other physical activities throughout the day. Researchers also believe that in addition to being more physically worn out after their workout, the men in the high-exercise group compensated for their longer workout routines by eating more afterwards, thus negating some of the benefits their bodies received from the longer workouts.
Considering the hectic schedules most Americans have today, this comes as welcome news for those who need to shed a few pounds. If you have any questions about the role exercise can play in helping you lose weight, feel free to ask Hillsboro family doctor Dr. Uba during your next appointment at Health First Family Medicine.