A new study has been released that shows thirty minutes of daily exercise can be more beneficial than spending an hour a day working at that same exercise. Results of the study revealed that those who exercised at a moderate pace for thirty minutes each day lost more weight than those who exercised for an hour. The thirty-minute crowd worked out on a treadmill at a moderate pace, with increased intensity three days a week. The key is to break a sweat during the workout.
The importance of exercise is nothing new, but the timing of this report coincides with my own personal experiment over the last couple of months.
One of my goals for this year was to reach a certain weight by my birthday. I wanted to weigh the same or less than I did ten years ago on that day. I chose that goal because it was realistic, and meant that I would have to lose over ten percent of my body weight in about nine months or so.
I have always had a regular exercise routine, but over the last ten years the pounds slowly started adding up. When it became clear in December that I would have to make some changes or give in and accept yet another waist size, I set my intention to be about twenty pounds lighter by September.
Along with changing my diet, I increased my daily workout to fifty minutes six days a week, on the elliptical trainer or –my favorite—the Nordic Track Skier. All went well for several months. I started to lose weight at a steady pace and was feeling pretty good about the whole thing.
And then the scale refused to budge. Nothing, no difference, no matter what I did. So I increased my time to an hour a day. Still nothing happened.
Now, I have a tendency to be a bit OCD from time to time. My first inclination was to exercise more, but I could see that would lead to hours-long workouts, and quite frankly I didn’t have the time for that everyday and couldn’t sustain that pace long-term. So I decided to try a different approach.
I cut my cardio work back to thirty minutes daily, keeping my heart rate at about sixty percent, which is the recommended rate for weight loss.
And the scale started to move again—in the right direction. It has been a couple of months now of this new schedule, and for me it is working. I have reached my goal earlier than planned and feel great.
In wellness coaching, weight-loss is a major focus for clients. The great news about this study is that thirty minutes a day is an achievable goal. It doesn’t have to be time spent at a gym or a boot camp, either. The key is deciding how to fit the time into your own schedule, and to make it something you enjoy doing. Some people can get up earlier in the morning and work it into a morning routine. For others that would be deadly. And it doesn’t have to be time on a treadmill or stair master. Housework, walking the dog, or gardening–it all counts. Exercise isn’t just for the gym anymore. All you have to do is break a light sweat.
One of my clients recently was concerned about his weight. Although not obese, he spends much more time behind a desk than he used to, and his weight has been increasing correspondingly. The problem is that he has a very hectic schedule, a demanding job, and a long commute. That kind of stacks the deck against him and makes exercise much more difficult.
We looked at the thirty-minute goal, and he decided it was achievable—on his terms. Now he walks at lunch for fifteen minutes. When he gets home, regardless of time, he climbs on a portable stair-master for ten to fifteen minutes. Playing with his dog rounds out the daily requirement. The goal was not to exercise for a thirty-minute stretch, since that would be a set up for failure. Instead, he worked it into his schedule on his terms and by doing so, he is much more likely to make the change a long-term habit. Success at turning changes into long-term habits is one of the benefits of working with a wellness coach.
Already he has seen a drop in his weight, and as a bonus, is less bothered by stressful situations during the day. Improved ability to cope with stress is one of my favorite side benefits to exercise, and it goes a long way to helping with overall wellness.
This is why I was so pleased to see this study the other day. We all know that exercise is a key to health, but with all the infomercials about weight loss and exercise programs, it can be hard to know which is the best way to go. Very often, the common-sense approach is the best approach. It may not always be the most glamorous, but the results can be priceless.
No one would say that weight loss is easy. Especially as we age it seems to become more and more difficult to lose those pounds. But now we have another study that shows more effort is not always better. Sometimes it really is a case of working smarter, not harder.
And for those of us who struggle with our weight, that is a very good thing.
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