Physical Activity in Obesity Management

  • Regular physical activity induces a wide range of health benefits in adults across all BMI categories, even in the absence of weight loss.
  • Aerobic and resistance exercise can favour the mainte­nance or improvements in cardiorespiratory fitness, mobility, strength and muscle mass during weight management interventions. This can be important, as these outcomes are not targeted and sometimes are negatively affected by other therapies, such as caloric restriction, medications and bariatric surgery.
  1. Aerobic physical activity (30–60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity most days of the week) can be considered for adults who want to:
    1. Achieve small amounts of body weight and fat loss (Level 2a, Grade B);
    2. Achieve reductions in abdominal visceral fat (Level 1a, Grade A)2–4 and ectopic fat such as liver and heart fat (Level 1a, Grade A), even in the absence of weight loss;
    3. Favour weight maintenance after weight loss (Level 2a, Grade B);
    4. Favour the maintenance of fat-free mass during weight loss; (Level 2a, Grade B); and,
    5. Increase cardiorespiratory fitness (Level 2a, Grade B) and mobility (Level 2a, Grade B).
  2. For adults living with overweight or obesity, resistance training may promote weight maintenance or modest increases in muscle mass or fat-free mass and mobility (Level 2a, Grade B).
  3. Increasing exercise intensity, including high-intensity interval training, can achieve greater increases in cardiorespiratory fitness and reduce the amount of time required to achieve similar benefits as from moderate-intensity aerobic activity (Level 2a, Grade B).
  4. Regular physical activity, with and without weight loss, can improve many cardiometabolic risk factors in adults who have overweight or obesity, including:
    1. Hyperglycemia and insulin sensitivity (Level 2b, Grade B)
    2. High blood pressure (Level 1a, Grade B);
    3. Dyslipidemia (Level 2a, Grade B)
  5. Regular physical activity can improve health-related quality of life, mood disorders (i.e., depression, anxiety) and body im­age in adults with overweight or obesity (Level 2b, Grade B).
  • Weight loss should not be the sole outcome by which the success of physical activity therapy is judged.
  • Increasing physical activity can be an integral component of all obesity management strategies.

Share this page: