No rest for the weary

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
No rest for the weary
8
Mon, 05-10-2010 - 3:23pm

So much for rest days. I just received the ACE fitness magazine and the new recommendation (Journal of the American Medical Association) for middle aged women, 45+ years, to maintain weight as we get older is 60 minutes of exercise, every day. They don't include housework or gardening in the recommendation but do include golf and walking.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704896104575140011148266470.html

A new study shows women need 60 minutes of moderate exercise a day to prevent weight gain as they age if they consume a normal diet.

The findings suggest women need more exercise than the current federal guidelines of 150 minutes a week, or 30 minutes five days a week, of moderate-to-intense activity.
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The study is being published in the March 24/31 edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"I don't want people to throw up their hands and say 'I can't do it,' " said I. Min Lee, the study's lead researcher and a doctor and associate professor at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.

Women at a normal weight who consume a normal diet can beat middle-age weight gain by working out intensely for 30 minutes a day, whether by running, cycling, swimming laps or working out at a gym. Weight gain can also be prevented with 60 minutes of moderate activity, such as walking, a leisurely bike ride or playing catch.

The federal guidelines of 150 minutes a week of moderate-to-intense exercise are designed to prevent disease and obtain other health benefits. However, a 2002 report by the Institute of Medicine suggested 60 minutes a day, or 420 minutes a week, are needed to prevent weight gain.

Dr. Lee said because the basis of IOM's findings have been questioned, she and other researchers decided to look at the issue within the group of women participating in the federal Women's Health Study. She also said the goal was to look at women who weren't dieting and were consuming a normal diet to see what impact physical activity has on weight.

The study looked at 34,079 healthy U.S. women who consumed a usual diet from 1992 to 2007. The women were all age 45 or older at the start, with an average age of 54. They were given a questionnaire about the amount of exercise or activity they engaged in per week at the start of the study, and then at three-year intervals. Their activity was tracked for an average of 13 years while weight changes were tracked over a three-year period.

Overall, women gained an average of 5.7 pounds in the study. However, those who were normal weight, with a body-mass index of less than 25, maintained their weight if they exercised for 60 minutes a day. Women who exercised less generally gained weight. Dr. Lee said for overweight or obese women, 60 minutes of exercise a day wasn't enough to maintain weight, suggesting calories need to be cut. "These data suggest that the 2008 federal recommendation for 150 minutes per week, while clearly sufficient to lower the risks of chronic diseases, is insufficient for weight gain prevention absent caloric restriction," the study author's wrote.











iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2008
Mon, 05-10-2010 - 7:00pm
Yup.
Community Leader
Registered: 04-05-2002
Mon, 05-10-2010 - 8:13pm
We talked about rest days a few months ago, when I was trying Zumba on my day off. I don't consider it much of a workout. But, at that time, I was working lower intensity overall and thought the seven days were fine. But, I've brought up the level of intensity in my workout, since spring. I know I couldn't work at this level 7 days a week so I'm fine with taking a day off. I think mostly we need to monitor it--if weight goes up, do more. But, it is constant vigilance--then again, for me, it's always been.










iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Mon, 05-10-2010 - 8:44pm

I think they gear their recs toward (for lack of a better term) the lowest common denominator. If someone is taking a leisurely walk around the block for exercise, that's great, but in order to burn a significant number of calories you are going to need to do that for more than a half hour a day. Also, you don't really need a rest day from that.

I think that for people who continually push themselves to work harder, like gym rats, the "conventional wisdom" still applies.

Also, the recs assume that the person isn't going to change her food intake as she ages, which isn't really the best thing to do. Most people need less calories as they age because their metabolism slows down. So really you should be less hungry and eat less. If people slow down their eating as they age, they don't need to increase their activity as much.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Tue, 05-11-2010 - 8:16am

I wondered why they didn't include housework or gardening (which I find back breaking and sweaty) but thought it might be because these things were already done. So, maybe the hour needs to be up and above what you were doing pre-middle age. It doesn't specify how much these women worked out before, which I think would have been more scientific. If we all had the time, I think working out at a lower level for longer would be better, gentler on your body. So, instead of running 5 miles, I could walk 5 miles.

I don't remember if the article I posted (I read a few of them) mentioned it but the ACE magazine did talk about diet and how you could eat less, which makes sense. But, I'd find it hard to cut 300-500 calories a day.

The article also doesn't talk about muscle loss, post 30. That's one reason our metabolism changes. If you lift, you might not need to increase your activity to an hour every day. They also never studied that effect.











iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Tue, 05-11-2010 - 8:18am
I should add, as I said monitoring weight goes, that that is the key. Just because the "average" woman had to add an hour a day doesn't mean everyone does. Weight gain doesn't happen over night. If someone is gaining weight and notices, take up the activity level and/or cut back on calories. It's balancing a scale.










iVillage Member
Registered: 07-09-2008
Tue, 05-11-2010 - 9:24am

Some other unknowns are the physiogical changes that occur as we age.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-25-2003
Tue, 05-11-2010 - 9:37am

Exactly, it's not going to happen all at once. You don't need to cut back your calories by 300 in one year, but slowly over 20 years. That's only cutting back by 15 calories a day each year.


And, going along with what I said about the least common denominator -- you wouldn't even need to start cutting back until you were near the top of a healthy weight for your body type. Which would probably take you a decade or two if kept your eating and exercise the same. So for a gym rat like Jean, we are talking 20 years at the status quo

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-20-2003
Wed, 05-12-2010 - 7:07am

"As we know, young bodies get away with a lot more (in a lot of ways)."

That was never true for me, once I hit puberty. I've never been a naturally thin person and have always been vigilant about what I eat and how I exercise, once I discovered both. At the same time, I don't find it harder, in my mid-40's, to maintain the same weight. It's still the same struggle as it's always been, not harder. I'm also not convinced, that if you exercise and eat well and are higher than your recommended BMI, that your health is worst than if it's not. I think it's more about lifestyle than about weight (although it is correlated). If I find it a serious challenge to maintain a size 4 body, for the peace of mind, I'd be fine going up a size or two, as long as I still could work out at my level and was still eating well.