Several short sessions of exercise with available home training equipment may be the most effective exercise program for obese patients, according to study results presented by University of Pittsburgh researchers at a recent meeting of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
"This study not only validated the use of short exercise sessions in treating obese patients," commented John M. Jakicic, PhD, research assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and the studys principal investigator, "but it was the first clinical study that we know of to actually incorporate and test the effectiveness of home exercise equipment in weight control programs."
Three Weight Control Programs Compared
In this study, 139 sedentary, clinically obese women (20% to 75% above ideal body weight) were randomly assigned to one of three 20-week behavioral weight control programs designed by the researchers. All of the participants were instructed to reduce their fat and caloric intake. Each group was instructed to exercise 5 days a week, gradually increasing the duration from 20 to 40 minutes daily. One group exercised in a single continuous session, while the two other groups divided their exercise into several 10-minute bouts. Home exercise equipment was available to one of the groups doing short-bout exercise.
"Both in terms of exercise adherence and total weight loss, we found that the group using exercise equipment for short periods of time was the most successful," reported Dr. Jakicic. "The most effective exercise regimen is one that a patient will actually do," Dr. Jakicic continued, "and it appears that these convenient, shorter sessions with the equipment promote maintaining higher levels of exercise participation."
The results indicate that short bouts of exercise improved exercise adherence over the 20 weeks of the study, but the availability of home-exercise equipment may have been the determining factor for that group exercising the most. Researchers are quick to point out, however, that the successful use of the exercise equipment may be a result of participants being in a clinical weight loss program. It is unknown whether the typical adult who purchases exercise equipment actually uses the equipment.
"Exercise is a critical component of weight loss and its continued maintenance," Dr. Jakicic summarized. "This study indicates that even 10-minute exercise sessions can be effective for weight control and are a good beginning for a lasting commitment to a healthy lifestyle."