A study published in the February 2008 issue of Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the official scientific journal of the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM), suggests that weight gain brought on by inconsistent exercise can't be lost by simply resuming a previous exercise routine.

Researcher Paul Williams, PhD, conducted an eight-year study of more than 40,000 runners. He found that weight gain among men and women who decreased their running distances per week was substantially more than weight loss among adult males and females who increased their running distances by the same amount per week.


With both the ACSM and the American Heart Association recommending that healthy adults participate in at least 30 minutes of physical activity, five day per week, at a moderate intensity or 20 minutes per week, three days per week, at a vigorous intensity, people who want to lose weight may need to exercise as much as 60-90 minutes per day to see results.

Williams feels not enough importance is placed on exercise versus simply controlling diet in addressing America's obesity epidemic. He says the key is to start exercising before weight gain actually occurs.

Living in a society that is so focused on wanting immediate results for little output, just how do we bring about the shift in mindset and get people to see the need for physical activity to manage their weight, help keep them healthy and enable them to lead longer lives?

Dr. Kwame Brown, PhD, Executive Director of the International Youth Conditioning Association, asserts, "The need for regular exercise has been proven in numerous studies and is understood as an imperative. The question now is how do we get people to do it? Our physical culture is dying. We have built in this country an uneasy relationship with exercise. We know we need it, but it seems like such a bother. This dysfunctional relationship begins in our formative years, when we begin to experience societal pressures that take us away from recreational/leisure time.


How Do We Create the Physical Culture that We so Desperately Need?


1.       More time allocated for meaningful physical activity during the school day. Our PE and recreational programs can't disappear suddenly when children reach middle school or high school. They need these programs just as much, if not more, at that point, when their bodies are going through so many changes.

2.       Quality recreational sports programs that don't just concentrate on sports skills but movement and fitness skills as well. The focus should always be on fun and function, not creating sports stars and excluding the rest.

3.       Our society that puts such a premium on getting ahead and "putting the time in" at work must find ways to give families more time together.

4.       The best coaches and professionals should be working with children instead of professionals. The International Youth Conditioning Association has already begun to initiate change in this direction.

5.       We must fund this process with the same type of money and zeal that we use to fund war efforts. This is a war, too.


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