The usual wisdom goes: You really need to be active for your health, but you can’t count on exercise as a weight-loss method. Some people even gain weight when they ramp up exercise — and not just muscle mass.
But if you look at the big picture and the long haul, people who succeed at long-term weight loss tend to have high levels of physical activity. Now a new study of more than 5,000 Americans in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise finds a strikingly strong link between exercise and weight — arguably stronger than the link to diet.
The American College of Sports Medicine offers this summary:
The study found that moderate-to-vigorous physical activity was significantly associated with two measures of weight status – body mass index and waist circumference.
For both men and women and in all age groups, higher levels of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity were associated with lower BMI and smaller waist circumference.
The associations of diet quality with weight status were much less consistent; higher diet quality was associated with lower weight variables in only a few gender and age groups.
Which groups? From the paper’s abstract: “Diet quality was inversely associated with the weight status variables only in men age 30–39, 40–49 (BMI only), and 50–59 and women age 50–59.”
And of course, if you’re in one of those cohorts now, you won’t be forever. More from the summary:
“The study also found that, as age increased, physical activity declined, diet improved, and BMI and waist circumference increased.”
In other words, even as we get more virtuous in our diets, we tend to exercise less and gain weight. Continue reading