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Every Minute of Brisk Activity Matters

Update Date: Sep 04, 2013 10:55 AM EDT

If people want to lose weight healthily, they must eat good foods and exercise frequently. Even though losing weight contributes to better overall physical and mental states, the process of dropping pounds, whether it is a lot or a little can be very difficult. Now, according to a new study, weight loss might not be so hard to accomplish anymore. According to this new research, every minute spent being physically active helps with weight loss.

In this study, the research team from the University of Utah used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), which is a countrywide program that gathers health and nutrition information from a group of adults that are considered to be representative of the nation. The survey has collected data since 1999, but for this study, the team focused on data from 2003 to 2006. During this time span, the participants were given accelerometers for a week in order to record their levels of physical activity.

From this three-year span of data, the research team looked at 2,202 women and 2,309 men aged 18 to 64. They excluded people who were pregnant or had some impairment that reduced their ability to walk properly. The researchers then divided the group into four sections of physical activity, which were higher-intensity bouts, higher-intensity short bouts, lower-intensity long bouts and lower-intensity short bouts. The intensity level was measured by counts per minutes while the long and short bouts were either greater than or less than 10 minutes. The researchers used body mass index (BMI) to measure the body weight.

The researchers found that for women in particular, every singly minute spent in higher-intensity short bouts was associated with a reduction in their BMI by .07. This meant that every minute lead to a loss of .41 pounds. The researchers reported that the results were similar for men. The team also reported that for both sexes, higher-intensity activity reduced their likelihood for obesity. For women, the odds were reduced by five percent and for men, their obesity risk decreased by two percent. This study suggests that people do not have to spend long hours at the gym to lose weight. Instead, performing higher-intensity activities can be effective.

"What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration," Jessie X. Fan, the professor of family and consumer studies at the University said according to Medical Xpress. "This new understanding is important because fewer than five percent of American adults today achieve the recommended level of physical activity in a week according to the current physical activity guidelines. Knowing that even short bouts of 'brisk' activity can add up to a positive effect is an encouraging message for promoting better health."

The study was published in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

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