Every Brisk Minute Linked to Lower Risk of Obesity: Study

First Posted: Sep 04, 2013 06:36 AM EDT

A new finding reveals that brief episodes of higher intensity physical activity has a positive effect on weight loss.

The world is getting fatter. Obesity that was recently declared as a disease by the American Medical Association is slowly crawling into the low and middle income countries too. Compared to the past decades the rate of obesity has shot up.

This latest finding comes as good news for women who are physically less active compared to men. This study conducted by researchers at the University of Utah suggests that brief episodes of higher intensity physical activity can help in preventing unwanted weight gain, which is similar to the positive effect on weight offered by the current recommendation of 10 or more minutes at a time.

According to the current physical guideline, every week American should receive at least 150 minutes of moderate-vigorous physical activity (MPVA). This can be accumulated in eight to 10 minute periods.

"What we learned is that for preventing weight gain, the intensity of the activity matters more than duration," Jessie X. Fan, professor of family and consumer studies at the University said in a statement. "This new understanding is important because fewer than 5 percent of American adults today achieve the recommended level of physical activity in a week according to the current physical activity guidelines. Knowing that even short bouts of 'brisk' activity can add up to a positive effect is an encouraging message for promoting better health."

The researchers worked on subjects from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). From 2003-2006  participants were asked to wear accelerometers for seven days  and data was collected.The accelerometer recorded information of the physical activity of 2,202 women and 2,309 men of ages 18-64. The researchers then compared the measurements of physical activity based on the time duration and intensity.

Based on the length of bouts and intensity the researchers created four groups that consisted of 'higher-intensity bouts' (more than 10 minutes exertion at greater than 2,020 counts per minutes (CPM)); 'higher intensity short bouts (less than 10 minutes at greater than 2,020 CPM); lower intensity long bouts (more than 10 minutes and less than 2,019 CPM); and lower intensity short bouts (less than 10 minutes and less than 2,019 CPM). They measured the weight of the subject using body mass index.

The researchers noticed that neither the men nor the women met the weekly 150 minute recommendation with bouts of eight- 10 minutes. However, men exceeded the recommendation on an average by adding shorter bouts of higher intensity activity. This way they accumulated 246 minutes per week. On the other hand women reached a near point at 144 minutes per week on an average.

The study reveals that in women, each daily minute spent in higher intensity short bouts was linked to a reduction of 0.07 BMI. Every minute counterbalances calories  equal to .41 pounds.

The study concludes by linking higher intensity activity of bouts of fewer or more than 10 minutes to a lower risk of obesity.

The researchers documented their finding in the American Journal of Health Promotion.

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