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Mental barriers behind obesity

Are you overweight and avoid exercise? A study claims that it is only a mental block which is hampering your efforts.

health and fitness Updated: Oct 07, 2008 19:53 IST

Are you overweight and always find some excuse or the other to avoid doing exercise? Well, if you think it's just laziness, think again, for a study claims that it is only a mental block which is hampering your efforts.

An international team has carried out the study and found that obese women often have a "phobia of exercise" which stops them being active because they feel self-conscious and are afraid of injury.

According to researchers, these mental barriers are real problems which must be overcome to encourage overweight women to exercise more.

"This is the first time we've been able to look at what stops obese women from getting the activity they need. These might sound like excuses to some people, but for those who have these aversions, they're real problems.

"There is an underlying attitude about weight loss, that it's easy if you just eat less and exercise more. But if losing weight were easy, we wouldn't have the obesity epidemic we have today," lead researcher Melissa Napolitano of Temple University said.

The researchers came to the conclusion after surveying 278 women, with an average age of 47, who were both of normal weight and obese as part of a year-long activity study, 'The Daily Telegraph' reported.

The subjects were asked what factors stopped them from exercising at the start of the programme, three months into it and at the end - the obese gave more reasons why they did not exercise than the normal weight women and the more barriers they had, the less exercise they actually did.

Overweight or obese women were more likely to report feeling self-conscious about their looks while exercising, feeling a lack of self-discipline, hating to fail so not even trying, fearing injury, thinking of activity as hard work, having minor aches and pains, and feeling too overweight to exercise, the researchers found.

First Published: Oct 07, 2008 15:00 IST