Moderate exercise: more motivating than hard training?

When it comes to working out, moderate exercise could be the key to the lasting motivation needed for a healthy lifestyle.

Interdisciplinary research at the University of Copenhagen revealed that a half-hour of daily exercise was just as beneficial as a full hour of hard training, with the "lightweight" participants reporting more energy and motivation than those who had sweat harder and longer.

Is less more?

For the research, PhD student Anne Sofie Gram studied a number of qualitative interviews with exercise subjects. Last year, a research team followed a group of moderately overweight Danish men for 13 weeks as they attempted to get in better shape. Men who exercised 30 minutes a day lost an average of 3.6 kg, compared to a loss of 2.7 kg in men who exercised for a full hour.

"The subjects in the test group that exercised the least talk about increased energy levels and a higher motivation for exercising and pursuing a healthy everyday life," said Astrid Jespersen, ethnologist and associate professor at the Faculty of Humanities.

The men who exercised for an hour, in contrast, were "exhausted, demotivated and less open to making a healthy change," Jespersen noted. A moderate amount of activity, therefore, was related to a significant improvement in daily routine.

A 'complex' problem

Since obesity is a complex problem, several disciplines must be used to examine the issue from a holistic perspective, the authors said. Qualitative interviews used in the study enabled explanations that may hint at new approaches for treatment of such a widespread issue. Exercising less isn't being advocated, the researchers said, but the study does suggest that finding personal balance is key for maintaining healthy habits.

"Decades of health campaigns have proven insufficiently effective because we have been unable to incorporate the significance of, e.g., psychology, culture and social structures," Jespersen concluded.

Findings of the study are published in the Scandanavian Journal of Public Health.

Source: Science Daily

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