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Staying Active May Prevent Middle-Aged Weight Gain

Highly active lifestyle when young tied to lower BMI, waist circumference increase later

TUESDAY, Dec. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Men and women who stay highly physically active as they transition from young adulthood to middle age appear to be less likely to experience substantial weight gain than their less active peers, according to research published in the Dec. 15 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Arlene L. Hankinson, M.D., of Northwestern University in Chicago, and colleagues followed a cohort of 3,554 men and women aged 18 to 30 at baseline over 20 years' follow-up to determine the effect of habitual activity levels on changes in body mass index or waist circumference.

The researchers found that those who maintained high levels of activity over two decades had the smallest gains in body mass index and waist circumference. Men and women who kept up high activity levels gained 2.6 and 6.1 fewer kg per year, respectively, than men and women with lower activity levels. Similarly, the highly active men and women gained 3.1 and 3.8 fewer cm per year around the waist than their low-activity peers.

"Maintaining high activity levels through young adulthood may lessen weight gain as young adults transition to middle age, particularly in women," the authors write.

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