According to data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System in 2005, less than 50 percent of the United States population participates in “recommended” levels of physical activity. You may be wondering what exactly the “recommended” levels of physical activity are. The recommended levels of physical activity (including both the amount and intensity) differ per person’s individual needs and their exercise goals. In other words, is the goal weight loss or maintenance, increasing one’s energy levels, controlling blood pressure, or blood sugar, etc.? Activity is not a one-size-fits-all prescription.

There is a common misconception that if you are thin then you are fit. That is false. Regular activity is what defines fitness, not thinness. The benefits of exercise can only be achieved by engaging in REGULAR activity on a consistent basis. Current exercise recommendations from the United States Department of Health And Human Services for adults aged 18 and older are 150 minutes of moderate-intensity cardiovascular activity (brisk walking) per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous activity (jogging) per week plus 2 or more nonconsecutive days of muscle strengthening activity. A person can achieve the same benefits from exercising 30 minutes a day, regardless of how they incorporate that 30-minute exercise routine into their schedule. For example, a study by Jakicic et al. showed that splitting long exercise bouts into small bouts of at least 10 minutes over the day, improved patient adherence to regular activity and was just as effective in achieving weight loss, compared to a patient who engaged in a long exercise bout at one time.

The National Weight Control Registry has routinely showed that over 60 minutes of activity per day is critical for long-term weight loss success and maintenance. It is believed by many that variety is the key for not only improving strength and fitness from working different muscles in multiple ways, but also for keeping patients engaged and motivated.

There are currently limited studies looking at the impact of activity in post-bariatric surgery patients. A study done by Bond et al. discovered that patients, who were inactive pre-operatively but became active post-operatively, not only lost an additional 13 pounds, but also had greater improvements in quality-of-life scores in relation to mental health, general health, and vitality. Regardless of the limited research for post-bariatric surgery patients, it is still recommended that for long term health, fitness, and weight management benefits, these patients need to be active.

In conclusion, every person, whether obese or thin, healthy or unhealthy, needs to engage in regular activity on a daily basis, since there are many long-term risks from inactivity.

Peraino, A.M., M.D. Physical Activity for Health and Weight Loss: How Much is Enough? Bariatric Times. 2011; 8(2):13-15