ALLERGY, RESPIRATORY
Overweight Moms More Likely to Have Asthmatic Kids
Keep Asthma, Allergies at Bay for the Holidays
Traffic, Dust Linked to Asthma in Kids
ALTERNATIVE MEDICINE
Acupuncture Cuts Dry Mouth in Cancer Patients
Supplement Hampers Thyroid Cancer Treatment
New Insights Show Ginseng Fights Inflammation
ANIMAL CARE
Rest Easy. When It Comes to Swine Flu, Your Pet Is Safe
Beware of Dog Bites
Animals Respond to Acupuncture's Healing Touch
BONES & JOINTS
Pain More a Cause of Arthritis Than a Symptom
Arthritis Hits More Than Half of Diabetics
Vitamin C Protects Some Elderly Men From Bone Loss
CANCER
Vitamin E, Selenium and Soy Won't Prevent Prostate Cancer
Occaisonal Dieting May Cut Breast Cancer, Study Says
Drinking Green Tea May Slow Prostate Cancer
CAREGIVING
Preventing Shaken Baby Syndrome
Hospital Practices Influence Which Moms Will Breast-Feed
MRSA Infections Spreading to Kids in Community
CIRCULATORY SYSTEM
Potassium-Rich Foods May Cut Stroke, Heart Disease Risk
Tai Chi and Qigong Offer Many Health Benefits: Review
Bye, Bye Back Fat?
COSMETIC
What to Do If You Have Unsightly Veins
Mouse Study Finds Molecule That Tells Hair to Grow
Wrinkle Fillers Need Better Label Warnings: FDA Panel
DENTAL, ORAL
Good Oral Hygiene May Protect Against Heart Infections
Scientists Find Gene for Tooth Enamel
Most Insured Adults Worry About Health Care Costs: Poll
DIABETES
Whole Grains Take a Bite Out of Type 2 Diabetes Risk
Insulin Resistance Tied to Peripheral Artery Disease
Treatment for Type 2 Diabetes Updated
DIET, NUTRITION
More Educated Choose Healthier Foods, But Pay More
Vitamin D May Help Keep Aging at Bay
B Vitamins Might Lower Stroke Risk
DISABILITIES
Review Finds Marijuana May Help MS Patients
Could Your Cell Phone Help Shield You From Alzheimer's?
ENVIRONMENTAL HEALTH
Showerheads Harbor a Bounty of Germs
Exhaust From Railroad Diesel Linked to Lung Ailments
Disinfectants Can Boost Bacteria's Resistance to Treatment
EYE CARE, VISION
Unconscious Learning: In the Eye of the Beholder?
Brain Adapts to Age-Related Eye Disease
Certain Diabetes Drugs May Pose Eye Risk
FITNESS
Exercise Guards White Blood Cells Against Aging
Want to Stop Cancer? You Can, Experts Say
Yoga Can Ease Lower Back Pain
GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS
New Guidelines Issued for Management of IBS
Gum Chewing May Speed Colon Surgery Recovery
New Yogurt May Ease Stomach Ulcers
GENERAL HEALTH
Varicose Veins May Mask Larger Problem
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
More Calcium And Dairy Products in Childhood Could Mean Longer Life
HEAD & NECK
Ski Helmets Encouraged for All
Zen May Thicken Brain, Thwart Pain
Many Children Will Outgrow Headaches
HEALTH & TECHNOLOGY
Airport Full Body Scanners Pose No Health Threat: Experts
Subway Defibrillators Save Lives
Magnet Therapy May Ease Hard-to-Treat Depression
HEARING
Summer Sounds Can Lead to Hearing Loss
Noise Hurts Men's Hearing More, Study Shows
HEART & CARDIOVASCULAR
Cocoa in Chocolate May Be Good for the Heart
Chinese Red Yeast Rice May Prevent Heart Attack
Lack of Vitamin D Linked to High Blood Pressure
INFECTIOUS DISEASE
Viral Infection Might Trigger High Blood Pressure
Poor Restroom Cleaning Causes Cruise-Ship Sickness
Hand Washing 10 Times a Day May Help Keep Flu Away
INFERTILITY
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
KID'S HEALTH
Teens Lose More Weight Using Healthy Strategies
3 Home Habits Help Youngsters Stay Slim
Guard Kids' Eyes Against Long-Term Sun Damage
MEN'S HEALTH
Physical Activity May Prolong Survival After Colon Cancer
Sunlight May Help Protect Men From Kidney Cancer
More Vitamin C May Mean Less Chance of Gout
MENTAL HEALTH
Chocolate a Sweet Pick-Me-Up for the Depressed
Consciousness Helps the Mind and Body Work Together
Heal Your LifeŽ Tips for Living Well
PAIN
Tai Chi May Help Ease Fibromyalgia
Are We Exercising Pain Away? Not So Much.
Alleviating Rheumatoid Arthritis
PHYSICAL THERAPY
PREGNANCY
Mom's Extra Pregnancy Pounds May Raise Child's Heart Risks
Obesity May Affect Fertility in Young Womene
Expectant Mom's Exercise Keeps Newborn's Birth Weight Down
SENIORS
Exercise Benefits Even the Oldest Old
Mediterranean Diet Plus Exercise Lowers Alzheimer's Risk
Video Gaming Just Might Fight Aging
SEXUAL HEALTH
SLEEP DISORDERS
Sleeping Could Help Women Lose The Baby Fat
Lose Weight, Sleep Apnea May Improve
Meditation May Help Put Primary Insomnia to Bed
WOMEN'S HEALTH
Steady Weight Gain Boosts Late-Life Breast Cancer Risk
Whole Grains, Bran May Fight Hypertension in Men
Exercise As Well As Acupuncture, May Ease Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome
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