You work full time, care for your family and your home, and exercise regularly — sometimes you even get in the recommended 150 minutes of physical activity per week as recommended by federal guidelines. You’re doing everything right. Right?
A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests you need more than twice as much exercise if you hope to keep your weight under control as you age. The study, released in March, followed 35,000 women over 13 years to determine how much exercise they needed to avoid gaining weight each year. The surprising results? The women who maintained their weight averaged 60 minutes of exercise every day, seven days a week! Who has time for that? "I feel lucky when I get in 30 minutes of exercise a day,” said Laura Jenkins, 36, of Oklahoma City. She walks on a treadmill in her home for 20 minutes about five days per week and walks outside during her lunch breaks at work. "How am I supposed to fit in an hour every day?” Like many women, Jenkins said she finds the study’s findings discouraging. "I almost feel like why bother?” she said. Jenkins’ concerns are echoed by many exercise and health experts who fear that women who can’t find the time or energy to work out seven hours per week will just give up. "I am concerned when we hear that you have to exercise 60 minutes every day,” said Michelle May, M.D., author of "Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat.” "When women are already not even doing anywhere close to that, I think that it is actually more of a de-motivator than a motivator.” The study looked at women who consumed a "usual diet” and whose body mass index (BMI) was 25 or lower at the start of the study. "I think this study is really discour-aging to all the ladies out there who exercise and try to watch their weight,” said Dr. Lubna Wani, an internal medicine specialist at OU Physicians in Norman. She said that it’s common knowledge that plenty of exercise is needed to avoid weight gain and that, in addition to exercise, a key to maintaining your weight as you age is watching your diet. "I cannot eat like a teenager eats. As we grow older, we start having babies, and after that, our bodies change. Your abdomen stretches; your metabolism changes drastically,” she said.