To Lose Weight, Relax, Grab Shuteye

Study shows stress, lack of sleep stymies weight loss

Exercise is good, but if you really want to lose weight, chill out and take a nap.

A new study found that people who get between six and eight hours of sleep every day and are under the least amount of stress had the easiest time shedding 10 pounds over a six-month period. Participants also ramped up their physical activity for the study.

"This study found that in addition to eating better and exercising, sleep and stress play a key role in losing weight," said Dr. Charles Elder, lead study author and an associate investigator at Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.

The report, funded by the U.S. National Institutes of Health, is published in the March 29 online edition of the International Journal of Obesity.

The study, which included 472 people, probed but found no meaningful link between TV and computer time and weight loss. But the message for getting sleep and avoiding stress came through loud and clear.

"The take-home message here is that, as clinicians, we need to tell people that if they are able to sleep the right amount and manage their stress, they are likely to be more successful at losing weight," Elder said.

The next part of the study is determining who has the best chance of keeping the weight off. Those results are due at year's end.

Selected Reading: CNN, Business Week, Science Daily.

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