osWell Health Clip is a feature presented by osWell Health Management
Even though Physical activity is NOT the key to weight loss, it’s still awesome. You can do it if you’re older, younger, skinny, short, extra tall, overweight, one-legged, 6-fingered, if you live in the cold or in a tree or without running water. We know it’s awesome because we’ve been studying the snot out of it for over 100 years including dozens of gold-standard studies – using designs like random control trials and systematic review.1
There are dozens of well-designed studies showing an improvement in osteoarthritis of the knee, aerobic capacity for those with Rheumatoid Arthritis, improvements in back pain, and the reduction in death in men after a heart attack. As well as improvements in COPD, Parkinson’s, MS, post-cancer fatigue, chronic fatigue, and how exercise improves depression symptoms. It’s fantastic for heart-health too – we knew that, right?!1
So how do we get these fantastic benefits I speak of?
Simple: You need 150 minutes of moderate activity per week OR 75 minutes of vigorous activity. Moderate can include the likes of walking, raking, vacuuming, mowing or beach-cruising on your banana seat.
Vigorous activity is defined as activity that makes you “breathe harder or puff and pant,” like jogging, cycling, aerobics, and competitive tennis.
The physical activity doesn’t seem to be necessary every day or even every other day either. Weekend Warriors – those who got the 150 minutes or 75 minutes in just one or two sessions per week – were shown to have a similar reduction in death as those who worked out 3+ times per week.2
So the takeaway is obvious:
“some moderate to vigorous physical activity is markedly better than none, and that more is at least slightly better than some.”1
Which brings us to the Blue Zones studies that highlights the 5 communities around the world who live to become 90-year olds or 100-year olds at an incredible rate. 3
These communities share 9 traits that seem to extend their lives and quality of life.
- highly plant-based diet
- positive outlook on life
- tight-knit community
- live actively… no formal exercise regimen
As part of their daily lives moderate physical activity just happens; walking for their errands, gardening, yardwork, and household cleaning duties.
Exercise is NOT the Key.
Back to the title – despite what the exercise infomercials, TV shows, and the magazine articles want you to believe exercise is NOT the key to weight loss. There’s just too much research to argue.4 The BIGGEST of which are the Behavioral research studies comparing weight loss using diet alone vs. exercise + diet show little difference and an edge to diet alone
Think: 30 mins of jogging burns about 350 calories Or reduce their soda intake by two… also 350 calories.
So, that takes us back to the 9 Blue Zones habits outlined above:
It’s the combination of traits that seems to show the best path to a thriving life.
And isn’t a thriving life what we’re all going for?
Exercise is a big key to this goal, but certainly not the only.
This can be for you, or a friend or, for an employer trying to figure out how to encourage physical activity for your ‘work family.’
How to get started and keep moving:
- KEEP IT SIMPLE! Educate on WHY & HOW simple it is (show them the video!).
- FUN! Share fun ways to incorporate the recommended amount of exercise.
- People don’t want to do things that aren’t fun or interesting to them – you aren’t going to convince everyone of your favorite thing. Whether it’s crocheting scarves or doing CrossFit or reading novels.
- Employers, your people might not want to do your walking program or your sweaty group exercise classes – don’t worry!
- WHAT & WHY? Find what you CAN do and why.
- SUPPORT! Get started.
- INCENTIVES! Use incentives only to support the achievement of the guidance above
- STOP telling adults what to do. Educate, encourage, support, and inspire them.
So, be encouraged and to encourage others that the achievement of good health includes physical activity but also much more. And remember, some is always better than none.
About Aaron Witwer:
Aaron Witwer is Team Lead, Health Management Services and a Senior Health Management Consultant at Oswald Companies. He has over 15 years of combined healthcare and health management experience, providing population health management strategy and administering various wellness programming to a variety of clientele; from small manufacturing firms to Fortune 500 companies.
Note: This communication is for informational purposes only. Although every reasonable effort is made to present current and accurate information, Oswald makes no guarantees of any kind and cannot be held liable for any outdated or incorrect information. View our communications policy.
- Aaron Carroll. To Lose Weight, Eating is Far More Important Than Exercising More. NYT Upshot, June 15, 2015: https://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/16/upshot/to-lose-weight-eating-less-is-far-more-important-than-exercising-more.html
- O’Donovan G, Lee I, et al. Association of “WeekendWarrior” and Other Leisure Time Physical Activity Patterns With Risks for All-Cause,Cardiovascular Disease, and Cancer Mortality. JAMA Intern Med. 2017;177(3):335-342.
- Scwingshackl L, Dias S, Hoffman G. Impact of long-term lifestyle programmes on weight loss and cardiovascular risk factors in overweight/obese participants: a systematic review and network meta-analysis. Syst Rev. 2014; 3: 130.