Obesity, Women And The Lone Hour Of Exercise Annually


The results of a new study, derived from hard data rather than interviews or personal records, has reconfirmed just what is already known: Obese people take longer than people in lesser weight zones to get required amount of physical activity. The startling quotient is brought in by the entire year it seems to take obese persons to log in a few hours of exercise. The study conducted by the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama in Birmingham has shown that women affected by obesity, in particular, get only an hour’s worth of exercise annually.

While the study has shown dismal statistics for obese women, obese men aren’t far ahead: Men who are obese get under four hours (3.6 hours to be precise) of exercise in a year. The results were drawn from data collected from a sample group representative of the whole nation. The statistics are based on data gathered from around 2600 men and women between the age group of 20 and 74.

All participants in the study, which has been published in the December 2013 issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings, were fitted with accelerometers or motion sensors that helped the researchers track their activities. Besides tracking movements, the sensors also provided information on the amount of time each participant spent exercising and at what levels of intensity.

The study has drawn some criticism for its “rigid” definition of what it counted as vigorous exercise: The kind of exercise that torched fat, like jogging or high-energy aerobics. However, individual fitness levels will to a great extent decide what is vigorous exercise for a particular person. Even walking can mean vigorous activity for persons who are severely obese. The subjectivity of the defining term has sparked some debate on the study’s results.

A Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation states that at least 75 minutes of high-intensity workout is a requisite for all adults. In addition, it also advises the inclusion of strength routines that help build muscle twice a week. Some of the vigorous-intensity activities include jogging, riding bikes on inclines, running, playing basketball or singles tennis and swimming multiple laps. A moderate level of intensity would mean 150 minutes of exercises like fast walking, riding bikes on flat ground, playing doubles tennis, using the lawn mover or water aerobics. 

With alarming correlations between obesity and women coming to the fore with this study, the need to engage in physical activity for at least 30 minutes everyday, rather than the abysmal lone hour of exercise annually, is greater than ever.

Speaking about the study, its author Edward Archer said that the participants were living their lives literally moving from one chair to another and that nobody realized the actual extent of their sedentary lifestyles. While he agreed that there are some who keep themselves vigorously active, Archer felt they are far outnumbered by the huge population of inactive persons.

While obesity is a chronic condition that over 35.7 percent of American adults are affected by, the study is of particular relevance to women with obesity, who have been participating in just one hour of exercise annually. Specifically, abdominal obesity in women is a prominent precursor to a volley of diseases that can seriously alter normal life. Diabetes, heart disease and Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) among other medical conditions can all be linked to the body weight of a woman.  

By Aruna Iyer

Mayo Clinic Proceedings
Science World Report
Medical Daily
Medscape Multispecialty

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