Last week I presented a study at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting in Indianapolis showing that weight loss can improve physical function and reduce physical limitations. This study was also the topic of my Health & Fitness column in the Aiken Standard this week.
In this study 48 subjects followed a low-calorie diet (~1200 calories/day) and participated in daily exercise (progressing to 60 minutes per day of walking). The diet and exercise programs resulted in significant weight loss, about 13 pounds on average, or over 1.5 pounds per week.
We assessed physical function using a simple physical test called the timed get-up and go test (TGUG), in which the time required to rise from a chair, walk 10 feet, and return to the chair was measured. The subjects also completed the physical functioning domain of the Short-Form 36 Health Status Survey (SF-36), a subjective reporting of health-related quality of life.
Following weight loss the TGUG time was lower, meaning the subjects were able to complete the test more quickly. The SF-36 Physical Function score was higher. Together, these tests indicate that the subjects were experiencing improved physical function and fewer limitations to normal activities
This is important because physical limitations can have a big impact of quality of life. Being overweight makes simple physical tasks, such as bending over and tying your shoes, challenging. Losing weight can make these things easier, improving quality of life.
This is consistent with what many people who have lost weight report: “I feel so much better now than I did when I was heavy,” or “I didn’t realize how difficult things were for me.”
Sometimes, it’s the little things that count the most!