Irregular exercise pattern may add pounds

February 3, 2008 11:15:25 AM PST
A new study may prompt couch potatoes to think twice before taking a break from exercise regimes.

The consequences of quitting exercise may be greater than previously thought, according to a U.S. Department of Energy's Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study, which was published in the February issue of the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise.

"We are getting fat because we don't exercise sufficiently and consistently. The real solution to the obesity epidemic is getting people to exercise before they think they need it, and stick with it," said Paul Williams, of Berkeley Lab's Life Sciences Division, who conducted the study. "The ounce of prevention is indeed worth a pound of cure.

For the study released this week, Williams compared 17,280 men and 5,970 women who decreased their running distance with 4,632 men and 1,953 women who increased their running distance over a 7.7-year period.

"Many scientists attribute the obesity epidemic to excess calories rather than exercise, because dieting has been shown to produce more weight loss than exercise," Williams said. "My findings suggest that calorie intake and body weight may be self regulating in active individuals."

The study was supported in part by grants from the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute.