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Making the Move to Exercise for Overweight
and Obese People
Newswise, April 30, 2011 — How much exercise
are overweight and obese people getting?
More than many might think, according to
research findings by nurses from Case
Western Reserve University’s Frances Payne
Bolton School of Nursing.
They reported their findings in the Journal
of the American Academy of Nurse
“Exercise and exercise intentions among
obese and overweight individuals.”
Deborah Walton Smith, who is now a senior
lecturer at Gonzaga University, undertook
the exercise study while a graduate student
at Case Western Reserve. Also collaborating
on the study were Joyce Fitzpatrick, the
Elizabeth Ford Professor of Nursing, and
Mary Quinn Griffin, assistant professor of
nursing at Case Western Reserve.
Researchers surveyed the activities and
intensions of 175 overweight and obese
people who visited clinics run or owned by
nurse practitioners in Spokane, Wash. Those
individuals, who answered questions on
several behavior tests, were 40 years old or
older and had a Body Mass Index (BMI) of 25
or higher—the range for overweight and
The investigators found that 29 percent had
been exercising for six months, 39 percent
regularly exercised and 25 percent
Only 12 percent had no desire or thoughts of
The findings are important to combat obesity
According to the Center for Disease Control
and Prevention, 34% of the population is
obese, and the condition results in some
300,000 premature deaths annually due to
diabetes, hypertension and coronary heart
disease—all related to overweight issues.
Secondary to the obesity problem is
Little information is available about the
exercise habits of overweight and obese
individuals visiting nurse practitioners.
The study provides information to help
enhance practices by these health
The level of obesity was higher than
expected; many patients had a BMI at or
above 31. A BMI score between 25 and 29.9 is
considered overweight and those at or above
30 are in the obesity range. Individuals
were grouped in three classes of obesity,
based on BMI scores from low (30-34.9),
medium (35-39.9) and high (greater than 40).
Surprised by the level of exercise reported,
Quinn Griffin said this study shows that
just because someone is overweight does not
mean they are not exercising or considering
Those with lower BMI scores in the obese
range tended to exercise more. “This
verified other research information that the
higher their BMI, the less active people
were,” Quinn Griffin said, adding this is
reflective of the overall population.
Quinn Griffin also explained that the more
one exercised, the more benefits individuals
saw in being active.
The research offers information for NPs who
see overweight or obese patients, may help
them make decision about exercising, and
then follow up on those intentions at future
Quinn Griffin said nurse practitioners, who
see patients for routine health visits and
checks ups, have an opportunity to help
people move from contemplating exercising to
She added that because a nurse practitioner
knows the individual’s health condition, the
health professional can tailor an exercise
routine to benefit particular needs.
“They can also encourage taking small steps
like starting out walking,” she said.
The study’s participants were also asked if
they had a dog at home. More than half did.
A pet dog offers a beneficial reason for
both the dog and person to take a walk.
Another small step can be to encourage
individuals to purchase a pedometer. Only 28
percent of those surveyed reported owning
one. Many do not realize how far they can
walk in a short period of time, Quinn