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Nutrition Column

Activity is essential for long-term weight loss & maintenance

Whether you chose to exercise for health, fitness, or weight loss / maintenance an increase in your activity level is critical for continued success.

The statistics on long-term success when dieting (caloric restriction) for weight loss are extremely poor. In fact, most studies and reports claim a 5 percent success rate for long-term weight management for those who utilized diet, involving caloric restriction, as the sole method used for weight loss.

In other words, within five years of losing weight through one of any popular diet or weight loss program 95 percent of the participants were back to, or above, their pre-diet weight. Not a promising statistic.

Exercise is a critical component not only to increase caloric expenditure aiding in weight loss but also for maintenance of lean tissue during weight loss and for increased success in weight maintenance.

Data from the National Weight Control Registry, with over 4500 successful dieters who have maintained their close to 70 pounds of weight lost for over six years, finds that those who were able to maintain there reduced weight incorporated at least 60 minutes of moderate intensity exercise every day.

Most participants burned over 2,800 calories per week which is equivalent to fast walking (approximately 4 mph) for an hour a day, seven days a week. This added exercise was in addition to their daily activities.

As mentioned in a previous post, one way to accumulate those calories each day is to wear a pedometer and log over 10,000 steps each day. 10,000 steps assures you get the approximate 2,000 steps per mile, or approximately 8000+ steps, required for the hour of activity.

There are, in fact, several scientific and medical groups who recommend between 60 to 90 minutes of daily activity when the goal is weight loss or weight maintenance.

The hour to hour and a half recommendation is longer than the thirty minutes of moderate intensity activity recommended for maintenance of or improvement in health, and even longer than the 20 to 60 minutes of cardiovascular (CV) exercise recommended by the American College of Sports Medicine for improved CV fitness.

Although, when exercising for weight loss/ maintenance you will be working at a slightly lower intensity than that which is required for improved fitness.

Along with exercise, make sure to follow healthy nutrient guidelines: focusing primarily on a plant-based diet rich in whole grains, fruits, & vegetables and limiting saturated- and trans-fats, animal sources, sugar, and highly processed foods. Eating this way will assure a nutrient-rich and calorie-poor diet rather than the typical American fare which is nutrient-poor and calorie-dense.

A healthy diet combined with an hour or more of activity will assure you not only attain a healthy weight but that you more easily maintain that weight. It might just be time to consider purchasing a pedometer to track your activity.