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Abstract

This paper reviews succinctly the evidence for a role of regular exercise in the prevention and the treatment of obesity and of its metabolic complications. Seventeen propositions relevant to an understanding of the topic are considered. The evidence suggests that regular exercise can be an important factor in the development of sustained negative energy balance conditions provided the volume of activity is high. This implies a program of low to moderate intensity exercise performed on an almost daily basis for at least one hour per session. To induce significant weight and fat losses and to treat overweight and obese patients, compliance to the program for several years becomes a necessity. Exercise increases lipid substrate oxidation and may favor carbohydrate intake for the same amount of energy intake. The acute effects of exercise on resting metabolic rate are well documented, but the long-term influences of exercise training seem to be small and are rapidly suppressed with the cessation of training. The obese benefits also from a regular exercise regimen in terms of improved insulin sensitivity, lipid and lipoprotein profile, and blood pressure, as well as reduced risk of death. Regular exercise, such as walking, is a healthy course of action for the overweight or the obese patients.