Everyone wants to know how little they can exercise and still lose weight. It's human nature. And while we don't live in nirvana (where the answer would be "the less you exercise, the skinnier you'll be"), you might not have to work out as long as you think.
A new study from Denmark studied 61 young, healthy, overweight men who didn't exercise before the trial to see if two different "doses" of exercise (a lot vs. a little) made any difference in how much weight they took off.
For 12 weeks, one group burned 300 calories a day during their vigorous 30-minute workout. The other group burned 600 calories a day while working out for 1 hour. The scientists also measure how tired the men were and asked them whether they liked the exercise they did or not.
The 300-calorie-burn-a-day group said they were able to handle the exercise, felt more energetic, and even had a positive attitude toward it. Not so for the 600-calorie-burn group; they were more likely to say they felt tired, didn't like the workouts, and found them time-consuming. The 300-calorie, moderate exercise group also said they were more motivated to lead a healthier lifestyle. Not surprising, perhaps, since they felt more positive overall about their workouts (i.e., they hated them less).
And what about weight loss? The 30-minute/300-calorie group lost an average of 3.6 kg (about 7.9 pounds) and the men who exercised twice as much lost just 2.7 kg (about 5.9 pounds) on average. So the guys who worked out less lost more.
This could be a useful finding into why people hate to exercise, but maybe it's one we already knew: Working out more, if you hate it, may not help you in the end, at least when it comes to taking off extra pounds. It may be that the people who exercised for less time during their workouts had more energy (and a better attitude) to do more physical activity during the rest of their day, accounting for the additional calories burned and the additional weight lost.