Less exercise means more weight loss? Yes, recent research suggests the seemingly lazy approach could actually help people shed more pounds than a routine of rigorous workouts. Many physical therapist Minnesota experts often cringe as they watch clients start working out in hopes of shedding pounds and see them abandon the regime in complete disappointment.
Now there is encouraging news about physical activity and weight loss in a new study by researchers at the University of Copenhagen. Researchers found that shorter, less intense workouts were more successful for weight loss because the people would eat less food afterwards to make up for all the calories they burned.
In the study, scientists used a group of overweight, sedentary young men, a segment of the population increasingly common in the west. The volunteers, most in their 20s or early 30s, visited the scientists’ lab to undergo baseline measurements of their aerobic fitness, body fat, metabolic rates and general health. None had diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease and, while heavy, they were not obese.
Three different groups of men were assigned different exercise regimes ranging from intense to moderate. The volunteers who had worked out for only 30 minutes a day did considerably better than volunteers that did longer exercises, shedding about 3.2kg each.
Researchers gathered food diaries for the group burning 600 calories a day and found the men were increasing the size of their meals and snacks, but the additional caloric intake wasn’t enough to explain the difference in their results.
The men were also were more inactive in the hours when they were not exercising, possibly due to fatigue. The men exercising half as much, however, seemed to grow energized and inspired. Their motion sensors show that, compared with the men in the other two groups, they were active in the time outside from exercise.
Researchers found that shorter exercise sessions seem to allow the men “to burn calories without wanting to replace them so much.” The hour-long sessions were more draining and prompted a stronger and largely unconscious desire to replenish the lost energy stores.
According to physical therapy Minnesota experts, the study is mildly flawed because the men working out for 60 minutes were packing on some muscle, while the 30-minute exercisers were not. That extra muscle offset some of the vigorous exercisers’ weight loss in the short term – they sloughed off fat but added muscle, decreasing their net loss – but over the longer term, it could amp up their metabolism, aiding in weight control.