|Image 1: It's not too late to do something for your health. Just make sure you or your loved ones back the right horse - and this si not the nag trotting along the race track in what it believes was the "fat burning zone" ;-)|
Important message #1 - "Any exercise is better than none!"
"Another study with obese subjects?", you may now say - and yes, it is, but let's look at it this way: By 2030 50% of you, my dear American friends, will be obese (USA Today. 2011). And if the government didn't keep pushing the "demarcation line" up every year, you would already have passed the 50% mark by now (I guess, we Germans are not much better though ;-). The 163 obese subjects (age: 40-65, mean: 52y; BMI: 25-35kg/m², mean: 30kg/m²; bodyfat: 33.5%) in the Duke study are thusly very well representative of (at least) one out of three of your formerly babybooming neighbors and maybe even some of your relatives.
|Figure 1: Outline of the study protocol (left) and adherence of the subjects in the individual groups to the prescribed form of exercise (created based on information from Duscha. 2012)|
|Image 2: I am not particularly fond of heart rate monitors, but especially for people who are just starting to work out for the first time in their lives, they can actually be a valuable tool.|
Important message #2 - "More is not always more"
Although adherence is one of the most commonly overlooked, yet crucially important determinants of how successful any dietary and/or exercise intervention may be, an adherence rate of across-the-board >80% is more than just "above average" and goes to show you that the subjects were highly motivated to get in better shape. If we now assume that your aunt, uncle, mom or dad was one of them, the question still remains, which of the regimen would be the "best" for her/him to do?
|Figure 2: Relative increases in Peak VO2, citrate synthase activity and capillary density after 6 months on training regimen with different volume / intensity; text quotes the conclusion (data calculated based on Duscha. 2012)|
|Figure 2: Cost-benefit analysis (expressed relative to low volume + low intensity group) for increases in Peak VO2, citrate synthase activity and capillary density after 6 months on training regimen with different volume / intensity (data calculated based on Duscha. 2012)|
Bottom line: 3x a week 30-40min = plenty, but...
If we wanted to summarize the results of our analysis and turn it into some wise-ass advice you can give to your obese friends and/or relatives this could sound like this: "Look, it does not take much! Three times a week 30 minutes of exercise is plenty and this type of exercise is matched to your individual capacity. You will be puffing a little, but I promise the results are well worth it. It will not only improve your conditioning, but also help you build a bigger metabolic engine that will help you shed that pouch today and keep you healthy into the old ages, in the future".
|Image 3: For the babies of the babies, intensity is even more important than for their formerly babybooming granddads and -mothers|