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New Exercise Recommendation Is 60 Minutes Daily For Maintaining Weight

An Hour of Exercise Daily For Weight Maintenance?

I woke up this morning and did a 40-minute circuit workout and felt proud of myself for getting out of bed and getting my heart rate up. Then I read this headline in the LA Times: "Women Should Exercise an Hour a Day to Maintain Weight, Study Says." I suddenly felt a little like an underachiever.

Let's go back a few years, to when the American College of Sports Medicine in collaboration with the American Heart Association released updated exercise guidelines. These organizations recommended that we all get 35 minutes of moderate intensity exercise daily to keep our scales steady and our hearts healthy. A new study recently released online by the Journal of American Medicine almost doubles that previous recommendation! The study, which followed 34,000 women over 12 years, found that 60 minutes of exercise seven days a week kept women who did not diet from gaining weight. While the women involved in the study were an average of age 54 at the start of the study, it should be noted that by some estimates that majority of Americans gain about 1.5 pounds a year between age 25 and 55.

Dr. I-Min Lee, lead author on the study, explained the study and the results:

"We wanted to see in regular folks — people not on any particular diet — what level of physical activity do you need to prevent weight gain over time. It's a large amount of activity. If you're not willing to do a high amount of activity, you need to curtail your calories a lot."

Many health experts, however, are not quite buying this new recommendation since there are other factors in weight maintenance, like diet. One skeptic commented,

"Women who decide to be physically active may also decide to eat healthier and do other things to maintain a normal body weight. This study doesn't tell you it's the physical activity . . . It's complex. It's all about energy balance. It takes a very small imbalance to gain a significant amount of weight over many years."

No matter whether these new recommendations are exaggerated or not, it boils down to diet and exercise and healthy living over the long haul. My personal recommendation: find a type of exercise you love and that you can do for the rest of your life. I hope to be a silver-haired road-biking grandma. What about you?

Join The Conversation
northen123 northen123 7 years
I think the amount of exercise needed definitely depends on the person (i.e amount of movement, diet). Someone who is on their feet all day and has a healthy diet won't necessarily need to do an hour of exercise each day. Likewise, a sedentary person will need to put in more effort.
Mouzzer Mouzzer 7 years
Last I heard, it was around 35 mins of exercise three to four times a week, so I guess I am really behind the times with these stats. Personally, I maintain a good weight with mild activity (just getting around and walking uphill and stuff) for at least 20 mins every day and I do intense exercise about twice a week.
mtiger mtiger 7 years
Sourcherry, I completely agree with you. I can up my workouts and not see a huge change, but when I eat better, then I get great results. Now, I've lost 35 pounds and I eat healthy and workout 5-6 days a week for about 35 minutes. And I'm still losing. I also know people who don't workout at all and they don't gain weight. And I know people who workout 2 or 3 times a week for 20 to 30 minutes, and they don't gain. This study is ridiculous. It's all about calories in versus calories out. That's it.
sourcherry sourcherry 7 years
The "not on any particular diet" part says it all to me. A clean diet is crucial to weight loss and maintenance. I know this from experience: cutting back on a few indulgences makes a big difference within a few days, while adding more time to my workout doesn't do a thing. So it really doesn't surprise me that women over 50 have to exercise an hour a day if they're not watching what they eat. I even dare to say that it's good news!
Spectra Spectra 7 years
You definitely have to read into this data a little more in order to get the whole picture. If you don't diet, of course you'll need to work out more to stay thin. But if you eat a good, clean diet, you can probably work out a little less and still be thin. And if you eat a diet of total crap, you can work out 3 hours a day and still not be thin. Plus, they define 60 minutes of moderate activity as brisk walking or biking, so if you're doing sprint intervals on the treadmill for 45 minutes, that's probably just as good. I think it's more of a "wake up call" for people who think that doing 30 minutes of walking 3 times a week is going to make them thinner. Doing that much exercise will help your heart out, but it won't do a whole lot for your waistline.
staceyny35 staceyny35 7 years
I love originalamy's point- HOW you exercise is more important that HOW LONG you exercise. (And then there's what you eat ...) it's about using the most of your exercise time to get into that fat burning zone. Last night's treadmill workout of 26 minutes was an intense workout that had me in intervals ranging from 5.0 to 10.0 on the treamdmill. Very difficult.
jeezy jeezy 7 years
I'm thinking that maybe the reason it was heightened to an hour is because people are finally recognizing the amount of fatty and processed foods that many Americans are eating. More bad food, more exercise to counter it. The good news, as long as we eat healthy and keep active, we have no worries. The bad news, even with more exercise, processed foods and bad fat affects your health a lot more then just your weight, so I'm going to stay away from it.
beram1220 beram1220 7 years
Well yeah if these women are eating a traditional American diet of crap and more crap then I completely understand why an hour a day every day would make sense...
darc5204 darc5204 7 years
This study says nothing about the intensity of the exercise or diet. Since the typical American diet is terrible, it's no surprise it takes a lot of exercise to burn it off. I haven't read the actual study, though... technically, walking around the grocery store could be counted as exercise. Not a helpful study (at least the part being publicized) in my opinion.
thatsnotfab thatsnotfab 7 years
These daily recommendations can get so arbitrary over time and this new "rule" is no exception. I work out 5-6 days a week, but those sessions rarely come out to a full hour (more like 40-45 minutes on average), but I'm still maintaining my weight after an 80 pound weight loss and am in great shape. I think, from a fitness perspective, intensity should be taken into heavier consideration, not so much time. With the state of health this country is in, I think it's a bit ridiculous to keep jacking up the length of time of daily exercise and discouraging people from even trying to become more active at all. Nonsense. As long as you're getting your heart rate up, breaking a little sweat and feeling stronger/healthier, you should be proud of yourself, regardless of the number of minutes!
Yeah this article doesn't apply to me, so I'm ignoring it. Weight loss is just the balance between calories in vs calories out. Therefore with the diet and exercise plan I've been on I track my calories in and my calories out. I burn up to 500 calories through my workout ALONE and I do that five days a week, and guess what, somedays I burn those calories in 45 minutes, sometimes I burn those calories in 60 minutes, sometimes I burn them in 30. I eat less calories than I normally would and I've been losing weight. This article is too limited in scope because of the subjects used (women over 50) and it doesn't actually show a correlation between the weight "maintenance" and the exercise. Also, what are they counting as exercise? I dunno, it just seems like more white noise added to all the fitness stats that's just going to confuse people like me who need to live a healthy lifestyle or lose weight.
chloe-bella chloe-bella 7 years
Wow, it's really disheartening to read some people's comments. It's really sad to me that anyone would consider giving up exercise altogether just because of this study! I would stop worrying about what some random study says and look at what works for you. I have overweight co-workers who have really sped up their weight loss by doing only 30 minutes on the treadmill a few days a week. So obviously if people can lose weight with 30 minutes of exercise, it's obviously not true that everyone needs to do 60 minutes just to maintain their weight. It's hard for me to give this study too much credence when I feel like there is a lot of empirical evidence to the contrary.
originalamy originalamy 7 years
The spindoctors on this article should rethink their strategy.The reporting of the study is offensive to any woman that works out and is not the effective "wake up call" they had hoped for. If your workout is moderate such as brisk walking, then I agree you better take it to 60 min. But is that how most women who workout spend their time? I also have to ask: Had the Brigham team studied men, would they have based their recommendation on the assumption that most women consider a walk in the park their exercise of choice? I don't buy it. HOW you exercise is more important that HOW LONG you exercise. (And then there's what you eat ...) Why wasn't that the takeaway?
kimmieb124 kimmieb124 7 years
With a 9 month old baby and a demanding full time job, I'm lucky if I can find 30 minutes a day. I'm not too worried about this study, though. There are so many factors for weight gain. My mom hardly exercises at all and she has been the same size for as long as I can remember. She's over 60 now. I exercise because it makes me feel good not because I'm going to waste my time stressing about how I'm going to look when I'm 50.
goddessru goddessru 7 years
Ok so a few things: #1- average age for this study is 54.2 years, and it said specifically in the article that "It's unclear what level of physical activity younger women need to maintain weight." The longer activity time may be due to depletion of metabolism as you get older. #2- They say 60 mins, but they didn't explain if it's a constant 60 mins. If you break it up, isn't that ok? What about exercise machines? Though the article says it's included, it doesn't explain rest times, etc. #3- The article also said when not dieting. So basically you are exercising without strictly (or moderatly) controlling what you eat. It would make sense you need to be more active. So considering those three factors, it drastically changes things. For younger women who have higher metabolism rates the time are probably shorter. For dieters, well the same. So like the article said, take it with a grain of salt.
ticamorena ticamorena 7 years
it's hard to know whose advise to follow or what to do; I like to stay active so I swim, walk, cycle but I also like to work-out (ie, work up an exhausting, heart-thumping sweat) so I jump-rope and do resistance and weight training. I am also limited as to how much I can eat, and what i would like to eat each day. If I worked out an hour every single day on top of the activities I did, I would have to eat somewhere near 3000cals to maintain my present, healthy happy weight. That's nuts (and time consuming and expensive)! what am I supposed to do?!?!?!?
Vanonymous Vanonymous 7 years
i really believe that exercise is great for toning/losing extra pounds, but diet is most important for weight loss. Because your metabolism slows down as you age, you simply cannot continue eating the same as you get older. I heard something along the lines of decreasing your calorie intake by 100 calories each decade once your middle age (or something like that). Either way, Missy D, do not give up! Exercise does so much for your body other than weight loss. Think about how you've improved your heart and lungs since you've been working them. Hang in there!
glowingoasis glowingoasis 7 years
I'll be practicing Pilates for the rest of my life!
XdOlCeLoVeX XdOlCeLoVeX 7 years
I agree..its true you should get daily exercise..but a healthy diet is also substantial. I wake up with my 4-yr old and between chores, errands, and chasing him, I'm. Busy all day, and I rarely have one full hour at a time devote to exercise. I make it a priority to get daily exercise, however I cook five to six days a week, and my family doesn't eat anything after a certain time at night. For less formal meals like breakfast and lunch, I usually stand in my kitchen and read a magazine while eating, I think it helps my body from relaxing too much while I eat..I've been the same size for 6 years so I guess I'm doing something right.
missyd missyd 7 years
Wow, do I ever feel 'not good enough' now. That's the most de-motivating thing I've read in a while. So my 45 minutes 5x a week of fairly intense cardio isn't going to help me lose fat. According to this, it isn't even enough to maintain. WTF? This goes against everything every diet plan or dietitian/physical fitness expert has ever told us. *PULLS HAIR OUT* You know what?? I GIVE UP. Seems to me like I'm going to have to spend my entire evenings exercising every day, for 1.5hrs +, to get anywhere. Talk about goals taking over your LIFE.... No wonder I am not making progress
Meowphotog Meowphotog 7 years
I just don't want to take that to heart. I really think watching what you eat and just exercising/being active will keep you from packing on the pounds as you get older. But as you get older it is likely you'll gain a few, but as long as you stay healthy and active it won't be like 20 pounds. All these "suggestions" drive me up the wall. Everyone is different therefore no matter how many times a week you work out and for however long you workout, you may just be prone to gain weight at a certain age. Plus, what ever happened to "working out too much"? What about rest days?
yougotmefriend yougotmefriend 7 years
Well I do half an hour to an hour in the gym four times a week so now I feel really deflated
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