This past week, I attended the American College of Sports Medicine annual conference. This is where much of the high level scientific research is disseminated in the health and fitness field. The presenters are generally MD's, PhD's and MD/PhD's. It is from this research and organization that the exercise guidelines are created for the health and fitness industry.
I attended numerous presentations, but the one which stood out most related to weight loss. For years, I have have worked with clients that wanted to lose weight. In fact, most people want to lose a few pounds and that is why they start an exercise program. Yet, very few people ever lose the weight that they desire. If they do lose the weight, it eventually returns.
To summarize some of the key points:
- Most people who lose significant weight in a short period of time gain it all back within 5 years.
- It is unhealthy to continually gain and lose weight.
- Individuals with BMI scores of 25 - 30 have a lower mortality rate than individuals with lower BMI scores.
- A person who is considered fat, but exercises regularly and eats well is healthier than a lean person who does not exercise regularly.
- DNA plays a role in your ability to lose weight.
- Focusing on pounds lost is not the best approach to a healthier life and a lower weight. Better to focus on eating well and regular exercise.
- Muscle weighs more than fat and an exercise program that adds muscle (as most programs do) will increase your weight.
While these concepts are not new, the perspective is different and there is more research. Focusing on pounds lost is not the best approach for weight loss and achieving a healthier life. In fact, it can be detrimental as most people will fail to reach their desired weight and quit. It is best to focus on a healthy and balanced diet along with regular exercise.
If you are exercising 4-5 days per week doing a minimum of 30-60 minutes of aerobic exercise you are receiving basic health benefits. Even better, if you are combining strength training with your workouts. A healthy and balanced diet means eating the right foods and in the right amounts.
There comes a point where the health benefits of extreme exercise are not significantly better than exercising 4-5 days per week at a moderate level.