Many adults struggle to manage their weight once they hit middle age, which may add to stress and self-esteem issues for some individuals.
However, researchers at Northwestern University have discovered that daily exercise beginning in early adulthood can help reduce weight gain over time. The report, which appears in the Dec. 14 edition of the Journal of American Medical Association, showed that moderate to vigorous physical activity every day can benefit individuals in the long term, especially women.
Approximately 1,800 women and 1,700 men participated in the study, which observed adults between the ages of 18 and 50. Researchers found that women who engaged in high levels of activity — which consisted of at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity per week — gained an average of 13 pounds less than more sedentary types. Active men who participated gained about 6 pounds less than their less athletic peers.
"The study reinforces that everyone needs to make regular activity part of their lifestyles throughout their lives," said Dr. Arlene Hankinson, the study's lead author. "Not many people actually do that."
According to the study, high activity included recreational exercise such as basketball, running, brisk walking or housework.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that about 28 percent of Americans are obese.