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Being Active an Hour a Day Puts Brakes on Weight Gain
Date:3/23/2010

Walking, biking, dancing can all help normal-weight women as they age, study finds

TUESDAY, March 23 (HealthDay News) -- An hour a day of moderate-intensity exercise will prevent weight gain in normal-weight women, middle age and older, according to a new study.

"'Moderate intensity' means brisk walking, casual bicycling, ballroom dancing, playing with the grandchildren," said Dr. I-Min Lee, lead author of the study, which is published in the March 24/31 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

"It's nothing special," added Lee, who is an associate epidemiologist with the division of preventive medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School in Boston. "For someone who wants to eat normally, this is enough."

On the other hand, those who engage in something more vigorous -- like jogging, playing tennis or swimming laps -- can get away with 30 minutes a day and no weight gain as they age.

The findings did not hold true, however, for overweight and obese women.

In the current age of fast food and big-screen TVs, about two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Even among the healthiest, weight tends to creep up with age.

"We know that being overweight and obese adversely affects health," Lee said.

Despite the dozens and dozens of commercial and even medically supervised weight-loss programs that are available, people who lose weight still tend to gain it back.

"We thought, 'Wouldn't it be better to prevent the weight gain in the first place so you don't have to worry about sustaining the weight loss after that?'" Lee said.

And though tons of research has addressed ways to help overweight and obese people lose weight, much less research has focused on how to prevent weight gain over time in normal-weight individuals.

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