Relaxation helps keep that weight off

Researchers in New Zealand have found that the key to maintaining a weight loss might be relaxation.

The team from the University of Otago say women are more likely to keep weight off if they practice relaxation techniques and they suggest that non-dieting interventions to improve overweight and obese women's health and well-being have a longer-lasting effect if they include relaxation training.

This conclusion comes from a two-year follow-up of a ground-breaking Otago research project into the effectiveness of non-dieting intervention programmes in improving lifestyle behaviours and reducing psychological distress and medical symptoms.

The researchers conducted a study involving 225 Dunedin women with a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 28 - the women were placed on one of three 10 week intervention programmes which all aimed to help women shift their focus away from calorie counting and body weight, towards sustainable lifestyle changes that enhanced their well-being, regardless of weight loss.

Dr. Caroline Horwath of the Department of Human Nutrition says that, despite giving up dieting, women in all three interventions had successfully prevented any weight gain over the two-year period, which is a promising outcome for a group at high risk of weight gain over time.

Dr. Horwath says however that the most striking result was in the non-dieting intervention that also included intensive training in relaxation techniques and at the two-year follow up, these women were the only ones to maintain the psychological and medical symptom improvements they showed at the end of the first year.

Dr. Horwath says stress and negative emotions can trigger women to overeat and consume high-fat and high-sugar foods, and by learning and practicing relaxation techniques, women gain effective tools to manage stress and emotions without resorting to unhealthy eating.

The relaxation techniques, adapted from a Harvard Mind-Body Medical Institute programme, included progressive muscle relaxation, abdominal breathing and visualisation, which were used as part of a wider lifestyle change programme.

The researchers say although weight loss was not a prime goal of the study, women who were still regularly practicing these techniques at the two-year mark also had an average weight reduction of 2.5kg at the end of this period.

Dr. Horwath says while this is not enough to be statistically significant, it was a very pleasing result for the women involved and the positive results are exciting, given the limited long-term success of traditional dieting approaches.

The researchers say including relaxation training in a healthy lifestyle program helps maintain the long-term psychological and medical symptom improvements even in the absence of weight loss.

The research is published in the American journal Preventive Medicine.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
AI analysis of Reddit reveals public interest in GLP-1 drugs for weight loss and mental health benefits