Body composition and physical activity maintenance one year after a 12-week exercise intervention in women

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Purpose: Exercise interventions often result in less than predicted weight loss or even weight gain in some individuals, with over half of the weight that is lost often being regained

Purpose: Exercise interventions often result in less than predicted weight loss or even weight gain in some individuals, with over half of the weight that is lost often being regained within one year. The current study hypothesized that one year following a 12-week supervised exercise intervention, women who continued to exercise regularly but initially gained weight would lose the weight gained, reverting back to baseline with no restoration of set-point, or continue to lose weight if weight was initially lost. Conversely, those who discontinued purposeful exercise at the conclusion of the study were expected to continue to gain or regain weight. Methods: 24 women who completed the initial 12-week exercise intervention (90min/week of supervised treadmill walking at 70%VO2peak) participated in a follow-up study one year after the conclusion of the exercise intervention. Subjects underwent Dual-energy X-Ray Absorptiometry at baseline, 12-weeks, and 15 months, and filled out physical activity questionnaires at 15 months. Results: A considerable amount of heterogeneity was observed in body weight and fat mass changes among subjects, but there was no significant overall change in weight or fat mass from baseline to follow-up. 15 women were categorized as compensators and as a group gained weight (+ 0.94±3.26kg) and fat mass (+0.22±3.25kg) compared to the 9 non-compensators who lost body weight (-0.26±3.59kg) and had essentially no change in fat mass (+0.01±2.61kg) from 12-weeks to follow-up. There was a significant between group difference (p=.003) in change in fat mass from 12-weeks to follow-up between subjects who continued to regularly vigorously exercise (-2.205±3.070kg), and those who did not (+1.320±2.156kg). Additionally, energy compensation from baseline to 12-weeks and early body weight and composition changes during the intervention were moderate predictors of body weight and composition changes from baseline to follow-up. Conclusion: The main finding of this study is that following a 12-week supervised exercise intervention, women displayed a net loss of fat mass during the follow-up period if regular vigorous exercise was continued, regardless of whether they were classified as compensators or non-compensators during the initial intervention.