Stress-Reduction Techniques. Stress reduction and relaxation techniques may be helpful for some people with obesity, such as those whose weight is related to night-eating syndrome. [For more information, see In-Depth Report #31: Stress.]
Changing Sedentary Habits and Exercise
Changing Sedentary Habits. Making even small changes in physical activity can expend energy. For example, simply getting up to turn the TV on and off instead of using the remote, and standing (instead of sitting) while talking on the phone may help a person lose up to five pounds a year. Other suggestions include cooking one's own food (instead of eating take-out or fast food), walking to as many places as possible, using stairs instead of escalators or elevators, and gardening. Even fidgeting may be helpful in keeping pounds off, and, in one study, chewing gum increased energy expenditure.
No one should rely on such mild activities, however, for serious weight loss. Only high levels of physical activity -- not just using up energy -- help prevent obesity.
Interventions to help children and adolescents lose weight and maintain weight loss have yet to show consistent benefit
Approach to Exercise. Exercise, which replaces fat with muscle, is the critical companion for any weight control program. In a one-year study, women who regularly averaged 3.5 days (176 minutes) of exercise each week lost significantly more weight than women who did not exercise regularly. Women who exercised more than 195 minutes a week lost nearly 7% of their abdominal fat.
It should be noted that increasing activity level in daily work and home life helps a great deal. For example, walking down the hall to speak with a coworker, rather than spending the same time sending an e-mail, may result in a loss of 5 kg over a 10-year period.
Review Date: 04/14/2010
Reviewed By: A.D.A.M. Editorial Team: David Zieve, MD, MHA, and David R. Eltz. Previously reviewed by Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital (4/14/2010).