Uh-oh ... Here comes another new exercise study, which is sure to be touted as the answer to all of our weight loss and wellness-seeking prayers! But really, what it seems like to me is more research that's trying to boil down a very complex topic into a magic bullet. This time around, the researchers -- from University of Alabama at Birmingham -- say we might be able to maximize our results by working out four times a week, as opposed to six (or two).
At least that's the conclusion they drew after following 72 women aged 60 to 74 for four months. After four months, the group of women who lifted weights twice a week, then jogged or rode an exercise bike twice a week were burning 225 additional calories each day. And that's beyond what they expended while exercising, compared to their calorie burning at the start of the experiment.
Meanwhile, women doing only one cardio session and one weight training session a week burned almost 100 additional calories. But the women who did three cardio sessions and three weight lifting sessions -- in other words, six workouts total during the week -- didn't burn any additional calories.
The lead researcher says the six-a-weekers were griping that they were pressed for time, and as a result, would choose to drive instead of walk somewhere and impatiently avoided the stairs.
We've seen research like this before. Sometimes, when it comes to working out, less is more. Sometimes, working out "too much" causes you to be stressed, overeat, "reward" yourself for those grueling workouts. And yeah, it can put you in the frame of mind that your workouts are so frequent and so strenuous that you don't need to "move more" throughout the rest of your day, which is, judging from this study, a major misstep.
But for others, more is more. Those six workouts a week are necessary for our bodies -- and minds. It's our medicine, a stress management tool. It's the "drug" we take once a day to feel healthfully energized and calm. I never would have thought in a million years that I'd feel it necessary to workout almost every day of the week, but once you get into the swing of it and make it an integral part of your day, you can really end up feeling like you don't function as well without it.
That said, exercise routines will NEVER be one size fits all. We all have to find what works for us individually. But that doesn't make as snazzy a headline, so of course we're not going to hear it as often as the next magic bullet.
How do you feel about this study? How many days a week do you work out?