Exercise critical for overall health

When starting a health and fitness program, the focus should be on overall health rather than weight loss alone, according to new research.

A new Canadian study has found that weight loss programs focusing on both exercise and nutrition are more effective at helping people lose weight and improve health outcomes overall.

These programs are also better at preventing metabolic syndrome, the name given to the risk factors for heart disease and many other health issues. These include high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels and body fat around the abdomen.

Researchers took 133 sedentary and overweight women and randomly assigned them to one of three groups: one that had a programmed diet and exercise plan, a group that used a program focused on weight loss alone or a control group. After 12 weeks, both treatment groups had lost significant amounts of weight, but only the group with a structured fitness program improved their ‘absolute fitness’.

This research demonstrates that the best way to improve health, as well as lose weight, is a combination of diet and exercising with both aerobic and strength training. So make sure your program includes a detailed workout regime as well as a nutrition plan.

“When starting a new diet program, participants should consider not only weight loss as a goal but also a reduction in associated health risk factors,” said co-author of the study Dr. Conrad Earnest. “Our study found that a commercial program that offers a concurrent diet and exercise program results in greater improvements in metabolic syndrome in the 12 weeks of the program.”

The study has been published in Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism.

Baetge, C. et al. (2017.) Efficacy of a randomized trial examining commercial weight loss programs and exercise on metabolic syndrome in overweight and obese women.’
Applied Physiology, Nutrition, and Metabolism. 10.1139/apnm-2016-0456

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