If you have been religiously exercising the recommended minimum of 150 minutes per week but haven't noticed a significant change in your weight, there may be a reason why. Recent findings support that more minutes of exercise per week may be needed for those interested in long-term weight loss. In the February 2009 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise
the American College of Sport's Medicine (ACSM), the world's largest organization for sports medicine and exercise science, published its updated Position Stand "Appropriate Physical Activity Intervention Strategies for Weight Loss and Prevention of Weight Regain for Adults". This position stand updates their 2001 guidelines. The latest stand makes a point to discern between the amount of exercise needed to maintain body weight, to lose weight, and to prevent weight regain after weight loss.
The role of physical activity in weight management is important considering that more than 66% of the American adult population is overweight. There is sufficient evidence that weight loss lowers risk for chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes, and hypertension. Here is a breakdown of what you need to know regarding the major points outlined in the Position Stand.
To Prevent Weight Gain:
A minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or an energy expenditure of 1200 to 2000 calories per week is needed. This level of activity may result in minimal levels of weight loss. Improvements in risk factors for chronic disease can also be achieved at these levels of activity.
To Lose Weight:
A minimum of 250-300 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity or an energy expenditure of approximately 2000 calories per week is needed for clinically significant weight loss.
To Prevent Weight Regain after Weight Loss:
Some studies suggest that 200-300 minutes per week is needed and most studies suggest that there is a dose response with "more being better". However, the studies are flawed and more research is needed.
Other Important Points Outlined in the Position Stand:
Physical activity combined with dietary modifications increases the amount of weight lost compared to that lost from diet restriction alone. However, the role of physical activity is reduced if dietary restrictions are severe.
It is suggested that overweight and obese individuals participate in more than 250 minutes of exercise per week for greater losses in body weight and to prevent weight regain.
A weight loss of as little as 2-3% is associated with improvements in risk factors for chronic diseases (e.g. decreased blood pressure and better glucose tolerance).
Resistance training should be added to the exercise regimen to increase lean body tissue (muscle and bone) and to further improve health.
What if you're not at the recommended threshold yet? Don't get discouraged. The point is that minutes matter whether you are capable of getting in 10 or 40. The more active you are the better. Think of it in terms of "punching in" on the time clock at work. Few of us would complain if we were able to "punch in" an extra ten minutes because we would profit, even if by a small amount. As your fitness level improves you can increase the duration of your exercise sessions to accumulate the recommended 250-300 minutes per week needed for weight loss.
*Don't forget to cast your vote for your biggest barrier to exercise in the poll on my home page!
Note: Before beginning an exercise program or increasing the intensity level of a current routine, a physician's approval should be obtained, especially for older adults and those at risk for or who currently have chronic health conditions.
Labels: lose weight, prevent weight gain, prevent weight regain, weight management