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Obese Women Only Exercise One Hour a Year, Study Reports

Update Date: Feb 21, 2014 11:00 AM EST

In order to lose weight and maintain a healthy overall lifestyle, experts have recommended people to eat healthy and exercise frequently. Despite these recommendations and programs created to promote healthy lifestyles, the obesity epidemic is still at large. According to a new study, researchers reported that the average obese woman gets only around one hour of exercise per year.

"They're living their lives from one chair to another," said Edward Archer, a research fellow with the Nutrition Obesity Research Center at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. "We didn't realize we were that sedentary. There are some people who are vigorously active, but it's offset by the huge number of individuals who are inactive."

For this study, the researchers analyzed the data collected from a 2005-2006 government survey. The survey included nearly 2,600 adults between the ages of 20 and 74. The researchers focused on the participants' weight, diet, sleeping patterns and physical activity levels. The researchers recorded exercise levels by using accelerometer devices. The team categorized physical activity into different intensity levels. Vigorous exercise was defined as activities that would burn fat, such as jogging and jumping rope.

Based from the data collected by the devices, the researchers concluded that the average obese woman exercised vigorously for about an hour a year. For obese men, that rate went up to around 3.6 hours per year. However, an expert noted one major limitation of the study, which was that the devices did not track swimming and biking, which could be considered vigorous exercise. Other critics stated that the definition for vigorous activity might not apply fully for obese individuals. For heavier people, walking could potentially be considered vigorous.

"The data was there, but no one looked at it and parsed it the way we did. There is a great deal of variability; some are moving probably a fair amount. But the vast majority [of people] are not moving at all," Archer said according to WebMD, "I think they're living the typical life. They drive their children to school, they sit at a desk all day long, they may play some video games and they go to sleep."

The researchers stated that people in general should try their best to exercise a little bit everyday. The findings were published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

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