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29 August 2012
We should all exercise at least five times a week because the act of exercise itself, and the discipline involved in doing it are very healthy for both the mind and body. The added bonus for most people concerned about their appearance is that exercise also contributes to weight loss. Now the really good news for people who find it difficult to find an hour to exercise in a busy day, is that as far as weight loss goes, half an hour of exercise is just as effective.
The new study involved overweight but otherwise healthy men. Half of the men were asked to exercise for one hour every day for three months. The men wore a heart rate monitor and kilojoule counter. The rest of the men did the same thing but they only exercised for half an hour each day.
The results showed that after three months the men who exercised for 30 minutes a day lost 3.6 kg of body weight, while those who exercised for a whole hour lost 2.7 kg of body weight. The men who exercised for 30 minutes a day lost 4.0 kg of fat, and the men who worked out for 60 minutes lost 3.8 kg of fat.
So more muscle was added by those who exercised more but there was no significant difference in fat loss between the two groups.
There could be a couple of factors in play here. One the one hand 30 minutes of exercise may be more achievable and leave you feeling less exhausted so that you actually do more other exercise. It might also be that after an hour of exercise you will eat more because you have gone into greater energy debt.
This study was not large and the men chosen were picked because they were overweight and did not exercise a lot. Whether the findings relate exactly to people who already exercise remains unknown. What it does do though, is encourage people who want to exercise and lose weight but who feel overwhelmed at the prospect of doing large slabs of exercise each day. This study suggests that for people wanting to start exercising then while it might not be true to say that “less is more”, it does seem that “less is enough”.