People trying to lose weight through increasing exercise in their daily routines often drop the new habit when they don’t see any changes on the scale.
Several UGA researchers believe this happens because people unconsciously compensate by increasing their food intake or decreasing physical activity outside of their new exercise regimen.
“When you look at some of these studies, people are only losing 30 percent of what you’d expect,” said -Michael Schmidt, an assistant professor of -kinesiology in the College of Education. “The other part is that there tends to be variability across individuals. Some lose a good bit of weight, others lose a little and others go in the opposite direction.”
Funded by a $408,375 federal grant over two years from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, Schmidt and three other UGA professors are investigating why this happens. They’re seeking 120 women between the ages of 25-45 to participate in a walking study that will monitor nutrition and physical activity.
“People may respond to exercise by eating more as a reward, and many don’t have a good sense of the calories being burned versus how much they can ingest. It’s much easier to ingest calories than burn them,” said Schmidt, the study’s principal investigator.
During the eight-week exercise intervention, participants will walk at least 150-250 minutes per week. An activity monitor gives a minute-by-minute measure of any physical activity, which will help Schmidt and his team to understand any compensation related to exercise. Participants also will periodically enter their daily food intake on a website. These diet recalls will be completed on randomly selected days so participants will be less likely to change their food intake on the days being studied.
The study’s other faculty researchers are James MacKillop associate professor of psychology; Ellen Evans, associate professor of exercise science, and Stephen Rathbun, professor of epidemiology and biostatistics.