Recently Dr. Freedhoff wrote a nice short article about a relatively recent paper on walking and its affect on losing weight. I was not surprised at the lack of weight loss with walking as this result has been demonstrated repeatedly with all types of exercise. Exercise is great and everyone should be doing it daily for at least 30 minutes* (whether all at once, or from many small bouts of it), but the calories burned from the amount of exercise that most people can or will do is relatively small and can be easily compensated for within just a few minutes of eating. Here is the concluding paragraph to Dr Freedhoff’s article;
Perhaps the most amazing aspect of the study was that the authors stubbornly elected to present their findings positively, suggesting quite firmly that walking programs could be very beneficial to weight loss. Yet what this study really helped to prove wasn’t that you can walk your weight off, but rather that weight is lost through food – and if you start walking with the expectation of losing, it’s probably also fair for you to expect that pretty soon you’ll sit back down. On the other hand, if you start your walking program with hopes of improving your cardiovascular health, strength, mobility, mood and sleep, I’d bet you’ll be much more likely to keep on walking, as those are benefits you can fairly count on. Ultimately, reading this study I couldn’t help but wonder when will researchers stop suggesting that exercise is the ticket to the weight-loss express and instead shift the focus to exercise’s rightful and non-disappointing role as the ticket to health?
Read the whole article here.
*30-60 minutes of exercise is the typical recommendation from the large organizations (ACSM, AHA, etc). However, there is some decent evidence that very high intensity exercise, such as sprints, can be done for very short periods of time (2-4 minutes, the effort part) and relatively infrequently (1-3 times a week) which can reap many of the same benefits as the longer duration aerobic exercise session would likely elicit. All of these aspects will be further explained in additional posts and in the Exercise Chapter in Overcome Obesity