ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Childhood Food Allergies on the Rise
Using Music and Sports to Improve Kids' Asthma
'Safe' Ozone Levels May Not Be for Some
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
U.S. Spends Billions On Alternative Medicine
Pain-Relieving Powers of Acupuncture Unclear
Awareness of Alternative Therapies May Be Lacking
ANIMAL CARE
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Body Fat, Muscle Distribution Linked to RA Disability
Extra Pounds in Mid-Life Affect Later Mobility
CANCER
Green Tea Compound Slowed Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia
Minorities Distrust Medical System More
Selenium, Omega-3s May Stave Off Colorectal Cancer
CAREGIVING
Older Caregivers Prone to Worse Sleep Patterns
Caregiving May Lengthen Life
Early Exercise Boosts Outcomes for ICU Patients
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Migraines in Pregnancy Boost Vascular Risks
Salt Boosts Blood Pressure in High-Risk Patients
Walk 100 Steps a Minute for 'Moderate' Exercise
COSMETIC
Science May Banish Bad Hair Days
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Get Sugared!.... Its a sweet choice for hair removal
DENTAL, ORAL
Holistic Dentistry-My View
Acid Drinks Blamed for Increase in Tooth Erosion
Mom's Vitamin D Levels Affect Baby's Dental Health
DIABETES
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
Vitamin K Slows Insulin Resistance in Older Men
Abnormal Heart Rhythm Boosts Death Risk for Diabetics
DIET, NUTRITION
Adding Garlic Might Cut Cancer Risk
Keep Stress Off the Holiday Meal Menu, Expert Advises
Imagine Food Aromas That Prevent Overeating
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Household Chemicals May Affect Cholesterol Levels
FDA Faulted for Stance on Chemical in Plastics
Freckles, Moles May Indicate Risk for Eye Cancer
EYE CARE, VISION
Nearly 18 Million Will Have Macular Degeneration by 2050
Hybrid Cars Pose Risk to Blind, Visually Impaired
Diabetic Hispanics Missing Out on Eye Exams
FITNESS
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Living With Less TV, More Sweat Boosts Weight Loss
Fall Cleanup Is a Prime Time for Accidents
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
Japanese Herbals May Ease Gastro Woes
HRT Use Raises Risk of Stomach Trouble
Peppermint Oil, Fiber Can Fight Irritable Bowel
GENERAL HEALTH
When Healing Becomes a Commodity
Regular Yoga May Improve Eating Habits
Can a Bad Boss Make You Sick?
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
'Comfort Dogs' Come to Emotional Rescue
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Using Light Therapy to Silence Harmful Brain Activity
HEARING
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Fewer Heart Attacks After England Goes Smoke-Free
Fondness for Fish Keeps Japanese Hearts Healthy
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Swine Flu Loves a Crowd
Surgical Masks Could Prevent Flu, Maybe
Swine Flu Is Now a Pandemic Says W.H.O.
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Exercise During Pregnancy Keeps Newborn Size Normal
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
Protect Your Kids From Swine Flu While at Camp
MEN'S HEALTH
Exercise May Prevent Prostate Cancer: Study Shows
Low Iron Levels Cut Cancer Risk in Men With PAD
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
MENTAL HEALTH
Green Spaces Boost the Body and the Mind
Massage Fosters Healing in Bereaved Relatives
A Simple 'Thank You' Brings Rewards to All
PAIN
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
'Cell Phone Elbow' -- A New Ill for the Wired Age
Acupuncture, Real or Fake, Eases Back Pain
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
SENIORS
For Older Walkers, Faster Is Better
Daily dose of beet juice promotes brain health in older adults
Martial Arts Training May Save Seniors' Hips
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Exercising Throat Muscles May Relieve Sleep Apnea
6 to 8 Hours of Shut-Eye Is Optimal for Health
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Exercise, Weight Control May Keep Fibromyalgia at Bay
Natural Childbirth Moms More Attuned to Babies' Cry
For Women, Moderate Midlife Drinking Linked to Healthier Old Age
Add your Article

Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain

An hour a day of moderate-intensity exercise will prevent weight gain in normal-weight women, middle age and older, according to a new study.

"'Moderate intensity' means brisk walking, casual bicycling, ballroom dancing, playing with the grandchildren," said Dr. I-Min Lee, lead author of the study, which is published in the March 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"It's nothing special," added Lee, who is an associate epidemiologist with the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "For someone who wants to eat normally, this is enough."

On the other hand, those who engage in something more vigorous -- like jogging, playing tennis or swimming laps -- can get away with 30 minutes a day and no weight gain as they age.

The findings did not hold true, however, for overweight and obese women.

In the current age of fast food and big-screen TVs, about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Even among the healthiest, weight tends to creep up with age.

"We know that being overweight and obese adversely affects health," Lee said.

Despite the dozens and dozens of commercial and even medically supervised weight-loss programs that are available, people who lose weight still tend to gain it back.

"We thought, 'Wouldn't it be better to prevent the weight gain in the first place so you don't have to worry about sustaining the weight loss after that?'" Lee said.

And though tons of research has addressed ways to help overweight and obese people lose weight, much less research has focused on how to prevent weight gain over time in normal-weight individuals.

U.S. government recommendations suggest exercising 30 minutes a day to lower the risk of chronic disease.

To find out what levels of physical activity are needed to successfully maintain weight, Lee and her colleagues followed 34,079 women, who averaged 54 years old at the start of the study, for 13 years. The women reported their physical activity and had their weight checked every three years.

Physical activity levels were divided into three categories: 420 minutes a week (60 minutes a day); 150 to 420 minutes a week (about 20 to 60 minutes daily); and less than 150 minutes a week.

Overall, the participants gained an average of 2.6 kilograms (5.7 pounds) over the 13 years, considered average for the general population.

Women in the two lesser categories of exercise gained more weight than those who exercised 60 minutes a day, the study found. There was no difference in weight gain between the two less active groups.

"The successful weight maintainers kept a normal BMI [body mass index] over a long period of time," Lee said, referring to an indicator of body fatness calculated from a person's weight and height. "They gained less than five pounds, and they constantly expended 60 minutes a day in moderate level activity."

Lee stressed that she didn't want people to feel discouraged if they weren't making the 60 minutes a day. "It's very clear that even the lower levels of physical activity reduce the risk of important chronic diseases, including cardiovascular disease and certain types of cancer," she said. "There are still some health benefits."

Eugenio Lopez, a registered nurse with the Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center in Corpus Christi, said the study "showed that you do need physical activity just to maintain, let alone lose, actual pounds. ... but they started off with individuals who were already at an ideal body mass index, which is absolutely irrelevant here in South Texas."

"It was interesting that it took 60 minutes just to maintain that particular body mass index," Lopez said. "I would have really been interested to see what it would take for somebody already above their ideal BMI to actually lose weight -- how much physical activity would actually be required."

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, director of women and heart disease at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, said that, as people age, "it's clearly harder to keep the same weight so you have the option of exercising every day for an hour, really understanding that calorie restriction [might] need to be a huge part of your lifestyle because your natural tendency is to gain weight."

SOURCES: I-Min Lee, M.D., Sc.D., associate epidemiologist, division of preventive medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, and associate professor, medicine, Harvard Medical School, Boston; Suzanne Steinbaum, D.O., director, women and heart disease, Heart and Vascular Institute, Lenox Hill Hospital, New York City; Eugenio Lopez, R.N., nurse, Texas A&M Health Science Center Coastal Bend Health Education Center, Corpus Christi, Texas; March 24/31, 2010, Journal of the American Medical Association Published on: March 23, 2010