New Study Reveals the Damaging Effects of Erratic Exercise
According to a new study from the U.S. Department of Energyís Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, the consequences of quitting exercise may be greater than previously thought. Studies found that the key to staying trim is to remain active year-round, year after year, and to avoid seasonal and irregular exercise patterns. Most of all, donít quit. Stopping regular exercise may be a contributing factor in the nationís obesity epidemic.
The study should prompt people to think twice before taking a break from their exercise regimens, despite the pressures of family, work obligations, or lack of motivation.
Using data collected from the National Runnersí Health Study, it showed that the impacts of increasing and decreasing vigorous exercise arenít the same among all runners. At distances above 20 miles per week in men and 10 miles per week in women, the pounds gained by running less were about the same as the pounds lost by running more. At these exercise levels, the effects of training and quitting training are comparable, and the weight gains and losses associated with changes in exercise levels are probably reversible.
Studies found that people who didnít run as many miles per week face an uphill battle if they want to lose the pounds accumulated during an exercise hiatus. At these less intense levels, an interruption in exercise produces weight gain that is not lost by simply resuming the same exercise regimen.
At lower mileages, there is asymmetric weight gain and loss from increasing and decreasing exercise, leading to an expected weight gain from an exercise hiatus. If you stop exercising, you donít get to resume where you left off if you want to lose weight.Ē
Studies compared 17,280 men and 5,970 women who decreased their running distance with 4,632 men and 1,953 women who increased their running distance over a 7.7-year period. The study found that runners who decreased their distance from five to zero miles per week gained four times as much weight as those who decreased their distance from 25 to 20 miles per week. It also found that people who started running after an exercise layoff didnít lose weight until their mileage exceeded 20 miles per week in men, and 10 miles per week in women.
An effective public health policy for preventing weight gain may need to include a strategy to keep physically active people active. The study also underscores the importance of avoiding start-stop exercise patterns. Exercise designed to prevent obesity may fall short of its benefits if the exercise is irregular, seasonal, or often interrupted.
We are getting fat because we donít exercise sufficiently and consistently. The real solution to the obesity epidemic is getting people to exercise before they think they need it, and to stick with it. Exercise can no longer be an option it has to be a life style.
Many scientists attribute the obesity epidemic to excess calories rather than exercise, because dieting has been shown to produce more weight loss than exercise. So keep your exercise regimen and diet consistent.