Steps That Count to Keep Weight Off

Finding the steps that count for keeping excess weight off have been depressingly elusive. Anyone who has struggled with obesity can tell you that they’ve lost hundreds of pounds over the years, only to see them come back later. They’ll tell you that the real challenge for defeating obesity is to find a strategy for keeping that excess weight off for the rest of their life.

One of the steps that count might be counting the steps.

A new study, just published in Obesity, suggests that physical activity monitors — the hottest thing in wearable personal technology — might actually be helpful for solving the vexing problem of long-term weight loss maintenance.

Researchers at the Wake Forest School of Medicine conducted a study of weight loss and maintenance to test the benefits of people monitoring their physical activity with an electronic pedometer. The people in the study were older adults (ages 65-79) with obesity in the range of a BMI between 30 and 40.

Everyone received five months of a structured diet and exercise program for weight loss, followed by self-selected diet and exercise for maintaining the weight loss. But the test group used an electronic pedometer to self-monitor throughout the study, along with coaching to help them self-monitor their physical activity levels.

The result? The self-monitoring group maintained twice as much of their weight loss after just 10 months as the control group who did not self-monitor. How’s that for incentive to pay attention?

Maybe all those FitBits, Up bands, FuelBands, and BodyMedia monitors are hot technologies with real staying power. If they can help break the cycle of losing and re-gaining the same pounds over and over again, we sure hope so.

Click here to read the new study in Obesity and here for a comparison of some of the popular alternatives.

Steps, photograph © Peter Rosbjerg / flickr

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