November 21, 2016
2 min read

Increasing physical activity improves BMI, cardiometabolic profile in overweight, obesity

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In patients with overweight or obesity, a self-reported increase in physical activity was associated with a decrease in BMI, triglycerides and non-HDL cholesterol, but increasing physical activity had no effect on patients of normal weight, study data show.

“In this study, all individuals were counseled to become physically active during an initial screening encounter,” Raphael Mendes Ritti-Dias, PhD, of the Preventive Medicine Center at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein in Sao Paulo, Brazil, and colleagues wrote. “No supervised physical activity program or active reinforcements were provided. Thus, the effect measured is primarily related to nonsupervised, self-initiated physical activities as reported by the participants. Although individuals who were able to sustain an increase in [physical activity levels] may be a self-selected population of highly motivated individuals, our data suggest that [physical activity levels] may be sufficient to limit weight gains typically observed during adulthood.”

In a prospective, longitudinal study, Ritti-Dias and colleagues analyzed data from 4,840 adults (mean age, 41.6 years; 79% men) undergoing routine, employer-sponsored health screening between from 2008 to January 2012. Researchers assessed patients’ self-reported physical activity levels, height, weight, blood pressure and blood samples at baseline and again after a follow-up visit that occurred between 300 and 1,050 days later (mean follow-up time, 536 days). Patients were stratified by BMI (39.8% normal weight; 45.1% with overweight; 19.1% with obesity).

During follow-up, researchers found that BMI increased for patients of normal weight regardless of changes in physical activity levels, but patients with overweight or obesity who reported an increase in physical activity experienced a mean 0.9% and 3.1% decrease in BMI, respectively (P < .05).

Patients with overweight or obesity reporting an increase in physical activity also experienced a mean 5.8% and 4.6% reduction in non-HDL concentrations, respectively, from baseline to follow-up (P < .05). Patients with overweight had a reduction in LDL cholesterol from baseline to follow-up regardless of any change in physical activity, according to researchers. For patients with obesity, maintenance of baseline physical activity levels through follow-up resulted in a mean 4.7% decrease in LDL cholesterol; those who reported an increase in physical activity experienced a mean 6.1% decrease (P < .05). Researchers also observed a mean 9.8% decrease in triglyceride levels among patients with overweight who increased physical activity levels, but the decrease in patients with obesity was not significant (mean –5.7%; P = .08).

Researchers did not observe an interaction effect for physical activity levels and blood glucose, systolic and diastolic BP or HDL cholesterol (P < .05).

“Supervised exercise regimens are not available for all people,” Ritti-Dias told Endocrine Today. “In addition, overweight and obese adults frequently avoid exercise centers. Thus, increasing daily physical activities can be an alternative to improve cardiometabolic health in this population.” – by Regina Schaffer

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.