Active lifestyles more important than exercise for weight loss, study finds

New research finds that regular movement throughout the day is more important than scheduled workouts

Senior man walking outdoors
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you want to lose weight, some of the most common advice is to cut calories and start exercising. Although this works for some people, it's not the most sustainable approach for all of us. 

Investing in one of the best exercise machines to lose weight means you can get effective at-home cardio workouts, with options for rowing, running, cycling, and even resistance training. 

And while all of those exercises are known for their fat-burning credentials, researchers have found that an active lifestyle rather than scheduled exercise might be more effective for long-term weight loss. 

The new study recruited 183 obese participants between 65 and 85 years old. The researchers split them into three groups; exercise-only, exercise and an active movement program, or movement alone. 

The active movement program, known as SitLess, was designed to get the participants moving regularly throughout the day. All three groups were also enrolled in a controlled weight-loss diet. 

Although there were occasional meetings with the study team, each participant was given one of the best fitness trackers and encouraged to go about their day while sticking to their allocated plan. 

Two senior women walking outside

(Image credit: Getty Images)

By the end of the 18-month study period, all groups saw results, with weight loss across the board. However, the exercise-only group had regained significantly more weight than the SitLess-only group.

According to Alexandra Lee from Pennsylvania State University, who was not part of the research team, "this is encouraging evidence that "moving more, more often" is beneficial for... weight loss and weight maintenance efforts for older adults."

Our bodies change as we age, and you may not always feel able to train intensely. Incorporating achievable movement throughout the day, like standing up for a short while or taking a walk, can make a significant impact.

When you want to add some exercise to your routine, try out this low-impact 10-minute chair workout. It's easy on your joints, helps build upper-body strength, and keeps your muscles active. 

If your joints have been giving you trouble, consider adding some of the best supplements for joints into your diet. These help reduce pain and make regular movement a more enjoyable experience. 

It's also worth topping up your Omega-3 levels with the best fish oil supplements. Omega-3, an essential fatty acid, keeps your heart healthy and protects your mental wellbeing too. 

James Frew
James Frew

James is a London-based journalist and Staff Writer at Fit&Well. He has over five years experience in fitness tech, including time spent as the Buyer’s Guide Editor and Staff Writer at technology publication MakeUseOf. In 2013 he was diagnosed with a chronic health condition, which spurred his interest in health, fitness, and lifestyle management.


In the years since, he has become a devoted meditator, experimented with workout styles and exercises, and used various gadgets to monitor his health. In recent times, James has been absorbed by the intersection between mental health, fitness, sustainability, and environmentalism. When not concerning himself with health and technology, James can be found excitedly checking out each week’s New Music Friday releases.