Once again, mother nature seems to be harder on women than men. New research has come out revealing that women need lots of exercise to keep off the extra pounds as they age.
For older women who aren’t dieting, at least an hour of moderate exercise each day is recommended just to maintain a healthy weight. And for those of us who are already pleasantly plump, which is the majority of American women, even more exercise is suggested to keep from gaining weight without eating less, according to the study.
John Foreyt, a behavioral medicine expert who evaluated the study but wasn’t involved in the research, said “we all have to work at it. If it were easy to be skinny, we would all be skinny.”
So what is considered moderate exercise? Some examples are brisk walking, leisurely bicycling and golfing. Don’t get upset if you can’t commit to this for at least an hour a day. The researchers kindly reassured us that even a sprinkling of exercise is good for our health, even if it won’t make us thin.
The findings in this report were based on 34,079 non-dieting middle-age women that were observed for around 13 years. During the study, the women gained an average of 6 pounds.
The ones who began the study at a healthy weight, with a body mass index less than 25, and who also gained little or no weight in the study regularly got around an hour of moderate daily activity. There were only 13 percent in this group of women. A few women who were already overweight exercised the same, but it wasn’t enough to keep them from gaining weight. The results show just how hard it is to maintain a healthy weight in our society.
The results support a 2002 Institute of Medicine report that stressed the importance of balancing diet and exercise and recommended at least 60 minutes of daily moderate activity for adults as well as children. In addition, the study claimed that the 2008 U.S. guidelines urging around 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week will not keep the pounds from creeping on as we get older unless some calories are also cut out.
The study reaffirms some inescapable things about aging. Men and women often add weight, to some extent, because their metabolism slows down with age. Dr.I-Min Lee, the study’s lead author, said it possibly has less to do with that than the natural tendency to get more sedentary, without changing eating habits as we age.
Women are prone to gain weight, especially in the belly area, due to hormonal changes in menopause. Even so, Lee stressed that the benefits of exercise go beyond what you see visually. Exercise helps the heart stay healthy and protects against chronic disease, even if you don’t exercise enough to lose weight.