What Is Weight Cycling?
Weight cycling is the repeated loss and regain of body weight. When weight
cycling is the result of dieting, it is often called “yo-yo” dieting. A weight
cycle can range from small weight losses and gains (5-10 lbs. per cycle) to
large changes in weight (50 lbs. or more per cycle).
You may have heard stories in the press claiming that weight cycling may be
harmful to your health. You also may have heard that staying at one weight is
better for you than weight cycling, even if you are obese. However, no
convincing evidence supports these claims, and most obesity researchers believe
that obese individuals should continue to try to control their body weight.
Losing It Again Be Even Harder?
People who repeatedly lose and regain weight should not experience more
difficulty losing weight each time they diet. Most studies have shown that
weight cycling does not affect one’s metabolic rate. Metabolic rate is the rate
at which food is burned for energy. Based on these findings, weight cycling
should not affect the success of future weight loss efforts. However, everyone,
whether they have dieted or not, experiences a slowing of the metabolism as they
age. In addition, older people are often less physically active then when they
were younger. Therefore, people often find it more difficult to lose weight as
they get older.
Weight Cycling Leave Me With More Fat?
Weight cycling has not been proven to increase the amount of fat tissue in
people who lose and regain weight. Researchers have found that after a weight
cycle people have the same amount of fat and lean tissue as they did prior to
About Abdominal Fat?
Some people are concerned that weight cycling can cause more fat to collect
in the abdominal area. People who tend to carry their excess fat in the
abdominal area (apple-shaped), instead of in the hips and buttocks
(pear-shaped), are more likely to develop the health problems associated with
obesity. However, studies have not found that after a weight cycle people have
more abdominal fat than they did before weight cycling.
Weight Cycling Harmful to My Health?
A number of studies have suggested that weight cycling (and weight loss) may
be associated with an increase in mortality. Unfortunately, these studies were
not designed to answer the question of how intentional weight loss by an obese
person affects health. Most of the studies did not distinguish between those who
lost and regained weight through dieting from those whose change in weight may
have been due to other reasons, such as unsuspected illness or stress. In
addition, most of the people followed in these studies were not obese. In fact,
some evidence shows that if weight cycling does have any negative effects on
health, they are seen mostly in people of low or normal weight. Some studies
have looked at the relationship between weight cycling and risk factors for
illness, such as high blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, or high blood
sugar. Most of these studies have not found an association between weight
cycling and harmful changes in risk factors.
Remaining Overweight Healthier Than Weight Cycling?
At this time, no conclusive studies have shown that weight cycling is harmful
to the health of an obese person. On the other hand, the health risks of obesity
are well known. The costs of obesity-related illnesses are more than $39 billion
each year. Obesity is linked to serious medical conditions such as: High blood
pressure, Heart disease, Stroke, Diabetes, Certain types of cancer , Gout, and
Gallbladder disease. Not everyone who is obese has the same risk for these
conditions–a person’s sex, amount of fat, location of fat, and family history
of disease all play a role in determining an individual’s risk of
obesity-related problems. However, experts agree that even a modest weight loss
can improve the health of an obese person.
Further research on the effects of weight cycling is needed. In the meantime,
if you are obese, don’t let fear of weight cycling stop you from achieving a
modest weight loss. Although health problems associated with weight cycling have
not been proven, the health-related problems of obesity are well known.
If you are not obese and have no risk factors for obesity-related illness,
focus on preventing further weight gain by increasing your exercise and eating
healthy foods, rather than trying to lose weight. If you do need to lose weight,
you should be ready to commit to lifelong changes in your eating behaviors,
diet, and physical activity.
Walking to a Healthier Lifestyle
Walking for Weight Loss
Walking is one of the easiest ways to exercise. You can do it almost anywhere
and at any time. Walking is also inexpensive. All you need is a pair of
comfortable shoes. Walking will: Give you more energy, make you feel good, help
you to relax, reduce stress, help you sleep better, tone your muscles, help
control your appetite, increase the number of calories your body uses. For all
these reasons, people have started walking programs. If you would like to start
your own program, read and follow the information provided here.
the following questions before you begin a walking program:
If you answer yes to any of these questions, please check with your doctor
before starting a walking program or other form of exercise.
- Has your doctor ever told you that you have heart trouble?
- Has your doctor ever toldWhen you exercise, do you have pains in your chest
or on your left side (neck, shoulder or arm)? you that you have heart trouble?
- Do you often feel faint or have dizzy spells?
- Do you feel extremely breathless after mild activity?
- Has your doctor told you that you have high blood pressure?
- Has your doctor told you that you have bone or joint problems, like
arthritis, that could get worse if you exercise?
- Are you over 50 years old and not use to a lot of exercise?
- Do you have a condition or physical reason not mentioned here that might
interfere with an exercise program?
Do I Start a Walking Program?
It is important to design a program that will work for you. In planning your
walking program, keep the following points in mind:
- Choose a safe place to walk. Find a partner or group of people to walk with
you. Your walking partner(s) should be able to walk with you on the same
schedule and at the same speed.
- Wear shoes with thick flexible soles that will cushion your feet and absorb
- Wear clothes that are right for the season. Cotton clothes for the summer
help to keep you cool by absorbing sweat and allowing it to evaporate. Layer
your clothing in the winter, and as you warm up, you can take off some layers.
- Stretch before you walk. See the warm up exercises here.
- Think of your walk in three parts. Walk slowly for 5 minutes. Increase your
speed for the next 5 minutes. Finally, to cool down, walk slowly again for 5
- Try to walk at least three times per week. Add 2 to 3 minutes per week to
the fast walk. If you walk less than three times per week, increase the fast
walk more slowly.
- To avoid stiff or sore muscles or joints, start gradually. Over several
weeks, begin walking faster, going further, and walking for longer periods of
- The more you walk, the better you will feel. You also use more calories.
Keep safety in mind when you plan your route and the time of your walk.
- Walk in the daytime or at night in well-lighted areas.
- Walk in a group at all times.
- Notify your local police station of your group’s walking time and route.
- Do not wear jewelry.
- Do not wear headphones.
- Be aware of your surroundings.
Do I Warm Up?
Before you start to walk, do the stretching exercises shown here. Remember
not to bounce when you stretch. Perform slow movements and stretch only as far
as you feel comfortable.
- Side Reaches
- Reach one arm over your head and to the side. Keep your hips steady and your
shoulders straight to the side. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat on the other
- Wall Push
- Lean your hands on a wall with your feet about 3-4 feet away from the wall.
Bend one knee and point it toward the wall. Keep your back leg straight with
your foot flat and your toes pointed straight ahead. Hold for 10 seconds and
repeat with the other leg.
- Notify your local police station of your group’s walking time and route.
- Knee Pull
- Lean your back against a wall. Keep your head, hips, and feet in a straight
line. Pull one knee to your chest, hold for 10 seconds, then repeat with the
- Leg Curl
- Pull your foot to your buttocks with your opposite hand. Keep your knee
pointing straight to the ground. Hold for 10 seconds and repeat with the other
the First Step
Walking right is very important.
- Walk with your chin up and your shoulders held slightly back.
- Walk so that the heel of your foot touches the ground first. Roll your
- Walk with your toes pointed forward.
- Swing your arms as you walk.