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Obesity and exercise - every bit helps

1st October 2009

By Deborah Condon

Even a very small amount of exercise goes a long way towards helping severely obese people improve their quality of life, US researchers have found.

They looked at over 1,200 people taking part in a residential weight loss programme, where patients reported undertaking an average of just under one hour of exercise per week.

Despite this small amount, those who were more active reported better overall quality of life, as well as improvements in their ability to perform daily tasks, such as using the stairs, getting dressed and undressed or simply moving around.

"These people weren't reporting high levels of activity yet they still felt better. This supports what we've been teaching for years - no amount of exercise is too little to have an impact. And it's beneficial no matter what you weigh," commented Dr Martin Binks of Duke University Medical Center.

He said that these findings are important for people who are severely obese because the benefits of exercise have not been as extensively studied in this population, compared to mild or moderately overweight populations.

He pointed out that the study may also encourage some severely obese people to be more active.

"When you are 100 pounds overweight, as the average participant in our program is, people often feel defeated. They have trouble moving and they think 'why bother.' This study shows why they should bother. It shows the value of starting to move no matter how overweight you are. Every little bit counts when it comes to quality of life improvements," Dr Binks added.

Details of these findings were presented at the annual scientific meeting of the US Obesity Society in Arizona.


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