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Behavioral Compensatory Adjustments to Exercise Training in Overweight Women


Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: June 2010 - Volume 42 - Issue 6 - pp 1121-1128
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0b013e3181c524b7
Applied Sciences

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the extent to which changes in nonexercise physical activity contribute to individual differences in body fat loss induced by exercise programs.

Methods: Thirty-four overweight or obese sedentary women (age (mean ± SD) = 31.7 ± 8.1 yr, BMI = 29.3 ± 4.3 kg·m−2) exercised for 8 wk. Body composition, total energy expenditure, exercise energy expenditure (ExEE), activity energy expenditure calculated as energy expenditure of all active activities minus ExEE, sedentary energy expenditure, sleeping energy expenditure, and energy intake were determined before and during the last week of the exercise intervention.

Results: Over the 8-wk exercise program, net ExEE was 30.2 ± 12.6 MJ, and on the basis of this, body fat loss was predicted to be 0.8 ± 0.2 kg. For the group as a whole, change in body fat (−0.0 ± 0.2 kg) was not significant, but individual body fat changes ranged from −3.2 to +2.6 kg. Eleven participants achieved equal or more than the predicted body fat loss and were classified as "responders," and 23 subjects achieved less than the predicted fat loss and were classified as "nonresponders." In the group as a whole, daily total energy expenditure was increased by 0.62 ± 0.30 MJ (P < 0.05), and the change tended to be different between groups (responders = +1.44 ± 0.49 MJ, nonresponders = +0.29 ± 0.36 MJ, P = 0.08). Changes in daily activity energy expenditure of responders and nonresponders differed significantly between groups (responders = +0.79 ± 0.50 MJ, nonresponders = −0.62 ± 0.39 MJ, P < 0.05). There were no differences between responders and nonresponders for changes in sedentary energy expenditure and sleeping energy expenditure or energy intake.

Conclusion: Overweight and obese women who achieved lower than predicted fat loss during an exercise intervention were compensating by being less active outside exercise sessions.

1Human Nutrition Section, Division of Developmental Medicine, Medical School, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UNITED KINGDOM; and 2Integrative and Systems Biology, Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, Scotland, UNITED KINGDOM

Address for correspondence: Jason M. R. Gill, B.Sc., Ph.D., Integrative and Systems Biology, Faculty of Biomedical and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8BX, Scotland, United Kingdom; E-mail:

Submitted for publication May 2009.

Accepted for publication October 2009.

©2010The American College of Sports Medicine