Exercise: Critical Element of a Long-Term Weight-Loss Solution

When it comes to optimizing your health and losing weight, starting an exercise program -- along with an improved diet that's ideally based on your body's unique nutritional type -- are the key tools you need to be successful. And, exercising over the long term will keep off those extra pounds too, according to a new study.

Researchers at the University of North Carolina measured the effect of exercise by dividing some 200 patients into two groups: A control group who were assigned a standard behavioral treatment amounting to 30 minutes of exercise daily or a high activity group prescribed an exercise plan (75 minutes of daily exercise) designed to burn 2,500 calories a week.

No surprise, the high activity group lost far more weight than the control group over 12 and 18 months. The interesting twist came, however, after the "official" end of the 18-month study period, when scientists evaluated the health of patients once again at the 30-month mark.

Most exercisers in the high activity group let their training slide as did the control group, resulting no differences in weight loss or activity between either group. Nevertheless, a small group of patients in the high activity group who stuck to their exercise regimen after the study's end maintained that high weight loss and their bodies required fewer calories and less fat too.

Over the years, the reputation of exercise has grown significantly in beating a wide range of health conditions from Alzheimer's, to colds and cancer. As the study brilliantly shows, the key is treating exercise like a drug that must be precisely prescribed to do the most good.

American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, Vol. 85, No. 4, April 2007: 954-959

Yahoo News April 30, 2007