Wednesday Bubble: word to the wise – move early, move often, keep moving

Posted by on Dec 15, 2010 in weight | 2 comments

I’m not bursting bubbles this week but rather  illusions about physical activity.  This advice is for women AND men. And not just for the midlife set:

Maintaining high activity levels throughout the young adult years may help to reduce weight gain during middle age.

It’s intuitive, isn’t it? And yet, obesity has been steadily increasing since 1973 and now affects almost a third of adults in the US. And while battling the bulge definitely becomes more challenging with age,  it appears that there is a rather easy solution: Move early. Move often.

In a newly published study of over 3,000 men and women, researchers found that habitual activity, described as maintaining high intensity activity (including sports, exercise, home maintenance and occupational activities) totaling roughly 150 minutes/week over a period of 20 years resulted in:

  • A weight gain of approximately 6 lbs to 13 lbs less per year in men and women respectively, compared to peers who were exercising only moderately or lightly
  • A lower increase in body mass circumference (measured by BMI) by as much as 1.2 inches to 1.5 inches per year in men and women, respectively, compared to peers who were only exercising moderately or lightly

These outcomes, which were especially notable in women, remained even when the researchers accounted for such factors as race, education, smoking, age, BMI at the study’s start, alcohol use and daily caloric intake.

One of the remaining questions is how much activity is needed to sustain these sort of changes, especially as we transition into middle age. That’s where experts disagree, with some claiming that 30  minutes daily is enough and others, suggesting that women in particular require at least 60 minutes daily. There is also indication that higher activity alone might not be enough to counter age-related weight gain although the findings only partially support this.  The bottom line is that there is no time like the present to start instilling good habits, which why I’m challenging you to share this post broadly, especially among the young adult women in your life. As I’ve written time and again, the earlier the intervention, the likelier you are to remain healthy and stave some of those troublesome menopausal symptoms.

Young or old, start moving, move often and keep moving.


  1. 12-15-2010

    Great new information, Liz. Thanks so much for sharing this, I will be doing the same. It definitely makes sense about moving early to offset weight gain in later years. I’m working on practicing what I preach!

    • 12-15-2010

      Thanks Andre! Much appreciated. It’s the first time that long-term benefits of regular exercise have been linked to weight maintenance over time. And it’s good for the head too!

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