Study: exercise regimens are harder to keep for obese

While the Lerner Health and Wellness Center is bustling with increased traffic from students with fresh New Year’s resolutions, a new University Medical Center study shows those who most need a fitness regimen have a harder time adhering to it.

Obese people and others who are not fit have a difficult time keeping to their exercise regimens at the gym, though not because they do not recognize the importance of exercise to fitness, according to exercise science professor Wayne Miller’s study. Instead, the lack of exercise stems from a low level of comfort, according to the study, which was published in the “Journal of Nutrition, Education and Behavior.”

“It’s not all body image issues. It’s issues with being uncomfortable; uncomfortable with exercising in front of people who are more fit; with exercising in front of people of the opposite sex; with the equipment,” Miller said.

The study showed that those who were overweight or obese often ranked exercise as more important to a healthy lifestyle than others who were already fit.

“The research shows that they have issues centering around negative emotions,” Miller said about why obese people have a harder time keeping resolutions to go to the gym despite their knowledge of the importance of exercise.

Miller’s study also came to the conclusion that college-aged students were less susceptible to the lack of comfort and negative emotions associated with the gym environment.

Lerner’s Associate Director of Fitness and Wellness Erin Maguire said the building has already seen an increase in the number of gym-goers.

“It’s crazy in here. I personally oversee group fitness classes and they’re packed. It always is at the beginning of any semester, but more so in January than in September,” Maguire said.

Maguire said that in the beginning of January last year, class sizes averaged 23.9 people per class for the first four weeks of the semester, excluding the very first week when classes were free and numbers were excessively high. There was a noticeable drop between the fourth and fifth weeks and the next four weeks averaged 19.6 people per class. After spring break, class sizes averaged 16.6 people per class.

“People come to the classes because they feel more comfortable than in the weight room. A lot of girls take the muscle pump classes because they feel more comfortable with the environment and there’s an instructor showing them how. And they feel less silly lifting smaller weights than they do next to the big guys lifting weights downstairs,” Maguire said.

Maguire said the key to success in keeping New Year’s resolutions to go to the gym is either doing it with a friend or signing up for a class and putting it into the person’s schedule.

Maguire said students who are less than comfortable exercising in front of others should avoid the gym from 4 to 8 p.m., its busiest hours.

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