Recent research from the US has echoed previous doubts about the efficacy of the often recommended amount of daily physical activity for managing weight issues.

A study by a team at The Harvard Medical School has supported the notion that exercise does improve health and can help reduce the risk of some chronic diseases, but that it can only encourage fat loss if done in substantial amounts.

Commenting on the study findings, Professor David Dunstan from Australia’s Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute said that the benchmark for exercise should probably be raised from its current level; ‘People should undertake a minimum of 30 minutes of exercise a day. Now the intention there is to reduce the risk of various diseases like heart disease and reduce the risk of early death. But we really haven’t been able to pinpoint or optimise the amount of exercise required for prevention of weight gain, we haven’t really had the research. But what this study appears to indicate is that more than 30 minutes is required, more up towards the 60 minutes of exercise per day.’ Dunstan said.

The study looked at the effects of exercise on weight management in older women, and Dunstan noted, ‘we still don’t know whether the same would apply to men. But I think we really have to think about it in terms of overall energy expenditure because for prevention of weight gain we need to make sure that our energy that we’re burning is equal to or more than the amount of energy that we’re taking into our bodies through food. So in a society where we consume more than what we expend, we possibly need to look at more than that 30 minutes and more up towards that 60 minutes if we want to prevent weight gain’.

He also noted that the findings did not suggest that older women should switch their focus from the amount of exercise they do their dietary habits. A combination of both diet and exercise is the surest way to effectively manage weight.

Dunstan said that the guidelines suggested by many countries may be due to be updated to reflect the findings of more recent research; ‘The US federal guidelines do mention that to achieve weight maintenance more than the 30 minutes a day may be necessary and getting up to the 300 minutes of exercise per week. So it does exist in other international guidelines and I think we will soon see that it will be incorporated into Australian guidelines.’

So is it worth your clients having that pre-dinner stroll? Well, it’s better than not having one, but if they really want to achieve fat-loss then they need to up the ante.

Source: ABC Online