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Weight loss not needed for health gains

by Katrina Phelps

Woman checking her heart rateIn a series of fitness programs, UniSA’s Professor of Exercise Science Kevin Norton has proven that you don’t need to lose weight to see health gains.

Taking groups of people who were relatively inactive, Prof Norton and his team led them through a 40-day fitness program.

“The 40-day programs have not been focused on weight loss,” he said.

“We focus on the importance of exercise for fitness.

“Of course, losing weight is also helpful but you don’t need to lose weight to get health gains. It’s not a waste of time. It is still doing participants a lot of good. We have seen enormous benefits in areas such as cholesterol and fitness.”

At the start of the program participants were tested for a health age and fitness age.

“The average change in fitness age is 13 years, and the average change in health is about three years,” Prof Norton said.

“These are impressive changes in 40 days.”

The programs were structured so that participants progressed slowly, helping them to avoid soreness and injury from going too hard too soon.

“When people start an exercise program, they can be like a bull at a gate,” Prof Norton said.

“This is why so many people get into trouble with gyms – they go flat out at the start and then get sore or injured and give up.”

Prof Norton said his research showed that some motivating factors in people continuing to exercise regularly were: the variety of fitness activities, including outdoor activities and fun activities; exercising within a supportive group environment; and ongoing testing.

In April, Prof Norton will lead three new 40 day programs each with a different focus – outdoor adventure exercise, group exercise and diet with exercise.

For more information about these programs, please contact Prof Norton on 8302 1503.