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Brisk walking is the most popular activity for obesity management for adults. We aimed to identify whether participant age, sex and body mass index (BMI) influenced the effectiveness of brisk walking.
A search of 9 databases was conducted for randomized controlled trials (RCTs). Two investigators selected RCTs reporting on change in body weight, BMI, waist circumference, fat mass, fat-free mass, and body fat percentage following a brisk walking intervention in obese adults.
Of the 5072 studies screened, 22 met the eligibility criteria. The pooled mean differences were: weight loss, –2.13 kg; BMI, –0.96 kg/m2; waist circumference, –2.83 cm; fat mass, –2.59 kg; fat-free mass, 0.29 kg; and body fat percentage, –1.38%. Meta-regression of baseline BMI showed no effect on changes.
Brisk walking can create a clinically significant reduction in body weight, BMI, waist circumference, and fat mass for obese men and women aged under 50 years. Obese women aged over 50 years can achieve modest losses, but gains in fat-free mass reduce overall change in body weight. Further research is required for men aged over 50 years and on the influence of BMI for all ages and sexes.
The authors are with the Center for Health, Activity, and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand.