How Much Exercise?

How much exercise do you really need to lose weight – and keep it off? Quite possibly more than you think, according to a recent study published in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine.

In addition to limiting calories, overweight and obese women may need to exercise as much as 55 minutes a day for five days per week to sustain a weight loss of 10 per cent over two years.

This is at the high end of the Health Canada physical activity guide which calls for 30 to 60 minutes of moderate physical activity per day most days of the week.

The study followed 201 overweight and obese women who were told to eat between 1,200 and 1,500 calories a day and were assigned to four groups, each with a different activity level. After six months, participants in all of the groups lost an average of eight per cent to 10 per cent of their body weight. Most, however, weren’t able to sustain the weight loss over the next 18 months.

Those women who did maintain the weight loss exercised for 275 minutes per week.  They also spoke more frequently with the research team, ate fewer calories and consumed less fat — which could point to another benefit of exercise, mainly that people who exercise more may be motivated to eat less and live more healthfully overall.

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