Pedometers help people lose weight

People walking regularly can expect a modest amount of weight loss even without changing their diet, with more weight loss the longer they stick with the walking program, revealed by researchers at the University of Michigan Health System, US.

The study is published in the Annals of Family Medicine, , Jan./Feb. 2008, Vol. 6, No. 1.

Participants in the studies increased the distance they walked by one mile to slightly more than two miles each day. At an average pace of three miles per hour, that means the walkers were getting an additional 20 to 40 minutes of activity a day. On average, they lost 0.05 kilograms per week (about 0.11 pounds) for an average total of 1.27 kilograms (2.8 pounds) throughout the duration of the studies.

“The amount of weight loss attributable to pedometer-based walking programs is small but significant,” says lead author Caroline R. Richardson, M.D., assistant professor in the U-M Health System Department of Family Medicine. She notes that the analysis also indicates that participants tended to lose more weight in the longer studies.

While pedometer-based walking programs are thought of as convenient and flexible for participants, there has been some question in the fitness and medical communities about the health benefits of such programs, Richardson notes. This analysis should quell some of those questions, she says.

“The increase in physical activity can be expected to result in health benefits that are independent of weight loss,” Richardson says. “Increasing physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular problems, lowers blood pressure and helps dieters maintain lean muscle tissue when they are dieting.”

Another benefit, she says, is that exercise in general has been shown to improve glucose tolerance in people with impaired glucose tolerance or type 2 diabetes.

In addition to Richardson, authors of the study were Tiffany L. Newton, B.S.; Jobby J. Abraham, MBBS; and Masahito Jimbo, M.D., Ph.D., MPH, all of the U-M Department of Family Medicine; Ananda Sen, Ph.D., of the U-M Center for Statistical Consultation and Research and Department of Statistics; and Ann M. Swartz, Ph.D., of the Department of Human Movement Sciences, University of Wisconsin ? Milwaukee, College of Health Sciences.

Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health.

Source: University of Michigan Health System, USA

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