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Disease Management & Health Outcomes

, Volume 13, Issue 1, pp 9–18 | Cite as

Walking for the Management of Obesity

  • Mikael FogelholmEmail author
Leading Article

Abstract

Walking during weight reduction leads to modest weight loss, abdominal fat loss, and total fat loss. The response is barely observable at a prescribed level of 150–200 min/wk. Hence, 250–300 min/wk (or 35–45 min daily) seems more suitable for weight reduction purposes. The walking can be split into shorter (10–20 min) periods. There is a dose response between the amount of completed physical activity and weight-loss maintenance. An exercise energy expenditure of 9–10 MJ/wk (2200–2400 kcal), corresponding to walking 70–80 min/day, seems to be associated with stable weight after weight reduction. A smaller amount of walking may slow down, although not prevent, weight regain.

Walking studies among people with obesity do not clearly show improvements in lipids or insulin sensitivity. Meta-analyses, including all kinds of physical activities, have shown positive changes in high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) levels and insulin sensitivity. The amount of exercise, in the absence of weight loss, corresponding to improvements of insulin sensitivity, is around 4.2 MJ/wk (walking 150–180 min/wk). A greater amount of exercise may be needed to improve lipoprotein profiles.

The minimum recommended amount of walking for the management of obesity, which is 150–200 min/wk (25–30 min/day or 3500 steps/day added above the basal, sedentary daily activity of 5000–7000 steps/day), may improve insulin sensitivity and cardiorespiratory fitness; however, a significant effect on weight should not be expected. Increasing the duration of walking to 250–300 min/wk (35–45 min/day or 5000 added steps/day) should lead to beneficial changes in weight and HDL-C. Much more than 300 min/wk of walking may be needed to prevent weight regain after substantial weight loss.

Cross-sectional studies suggest that a combination of walking and vigorous exercise activity is optimal for weight management and the prevention of cardiovascular deaths. Moreover, individuals who are able to maintain their weight loss long-term expend almost 30% of physical activity energy in vigorous activities. Perhaps high-intensity activities are also needed to increase the total physical activity to efficacious levels for the management of obesity.

Keywords

Physical Activity Weight Reduction Cardiorespiratory Fitness Total Physical Activity Daily Step 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Notes

Acknowledgments

No sources of funding were used to assist in the preparation of this review. The author has no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this review.

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Copyright information

© Adis Data Information BV 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The UKK Institute for Health Promotion ResearchTampereFinland

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