Wellness Wednesday: Rising to the challenge of maintaining momentum

January 15, 2014 | by

Three months ago, City of Hope issued a fitness challenge to its neighbors in surrounding communities.

City of Hope's Foothill Fitness Challenge wraps up Saturday at 10 a.m. iin Heritage Park on the medical center's campus.

City of Hope's Foothill Fitness Challenge concludes Saturday, with participants measuring the progress made toward their personal fitness goals and, just maybe, setting new ones.

More than 1,600 participants answered that call, pledging to commit to healthy changes intended to reduce their risk of cancer and diabetes.

Saturday marks the conclusion of what's been known as the Foothill Fitness Challenge, with participants assessing the progress made toward their personal goals, which ranged from dropping pounds to training for marathons.

Whatever the fitness goals, momentum and consistency are key in reducing disease risk.

“People who exercise three to four hours a week – these women had a lower risk of breast cancer,” said Leslie Bernstein, Ph.D., R.N., professor and director of City of Hope’s Division of Cancer Etiology. “Physical activity is stronger in its ability to reduce your risk than even maintaining a healthy body weight. So, I always tell women to exercise.”

Whether the goal is reaching a healthy weight and maintaining it – or reducing the risk of serious disease risk – sowing healthy habits can potentially reap large rewards. The National Weight Loss Registry follows more than 10,000 people who have lost at least 30 pounds and have kept it off for at least one year. Registry members have lost an average of 66 pounds and kept it off for five and a half years.

People who successfully maintain their weight have some habits in common:

  • 98 percent of participants report modifying their food intake to lose weight. Limiting portions and choosing more fruits and vegetables are common refrains.
  • 78 percent eat breakfast every day.
  • Three quarters weigh themselves at least once a week.
  • More than 60 percent watch less than 10 hours of TV weekly.
  • 90 percent exercise, on average, an hour a day.
  • About half report keeping food records – writing down what they eat to be accountable for their food intake.

Bernstein also recommends that women limit alcohol intake to no more than one alcoholic drink per day (and that means one per day, not seven on Saturday night) to reduce breast cancer risk.

Congratulations to those who completed the three-month Foothill Fitness Challenge. The next challenge: Keeping up the good work.