Many people gain weight as they age, and there’s lots of information available to us on how to lose weight once we’ve gained it. But what does it take to prevent weight gain before it starts? A new study focused on middle-aged women found that physical activity is associated with less weight-gain, but only for women who are of normal weight. The study, led by I-Min Lee, associate professor at Harvard Medical School, found that women of normal weight (defined as a BMI of 25 or less) who exercised at moderate intensity levels for 60 minutes a day were able to prevent weight gain of more than 5 pounds over the course of the 13 year study.
The study looked at more than 34,000 women whose average age was 54. While most of the women gained weight over the years, those of normal weight who averaged an hour of exercise a day gained less weight than those who weren’t as physically active or those who were overweight at the outset, regardless of their physical activity.For these overweight women, there was no relationship between exercise and weight gain, suggesting that people who are overweight must exercise regularly and also reduce the number of calories in their diets in order to prevent weight gain.
Obesity has risen significantly over the past two decades and it can lead to a variety of medical problems, including diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer. This new study sheds light on how those with healthy weight today can prevent gradual, age-associated weight gain that may lead to obesity and its associated health risks.