Dr. Vollmer says "multiple lifestyle modifications" can improve health
This Reuters story about a new study reinforces a basic principle that you hear me discuss often at this blog: making lifestyle changes that you can stick with for the rest of your life will result in better health.
A research study, led by Dr. William M. Vollmer from the Portland, Oregon-based Center for Health Research at the Kaiser Permanente Northwest, consisting of 810 nearly overweight adults with increased blood pressure readings were placed in one of three categories for the year and a half study.
Group 1 was required to exercise 3 hours per week, lower salt and alcohol intake, lose 15 pounds if necessary, and receive diet counseling to encourage them in their new routine and lifestyle changes.
Group 2 did the same as Group 1 as well as following a low-fat diet along with an increased in fruits, vegetables and dairy. This group also received regular diet counseling to get them used to making these changes permanent.
Group 3 was given diet counseling on diet, exercise and weight loss only.
By the end of the study, Group 1 and Group 2 participants were eating less fat and salt and 25 percent of them had lost the required 15 pounds. Additionally, the members of Group 2 were successful at increasing their consumption of fruit, vegetable and dairy products.
Interestingly, Dr. Vollmer found that the groups who were given lifestyle changes to apply to their lives (Groups 1 and 2) were able to stick with their respective plans for the duration of the study and their risk for developing high blood pressure was about one-fifth lower than the counseling-only members of Group 3.
A number of the study participants saw their high blood pressure readings fall to "normal" in all three groups with members of Group 2 seeing a drop from 38 percent down to 22 percent. Group 1 was almost as good seeing its members high blood pressure readings fall from 36 percent down to 24 percent.
The findings of this study were published in April 4, 2006 issue of the Annals of Internal Medicine.
Dr. Vollmer was encouraged that permanent lifestyle changes can happen in as little as 18 months and these changes can be sustained to the benefit of people's health.
"That's the bottom line," he asserted. "People were able to maintain multiple lifestyle modifications."
He added that this is "encouraging news" for anyone wanting to make changes in their lifestyle to improve their health. Dr. Vollmer admits that they were concerned about putting a variety of changes on the study participants because it might "overwhelm" them, but that those were unwarranted.
However, he did express doubts about whether the results of his study would apply in the real world since few people have the kind of support that was given to the people involved in his study. That's why Dr. Vollmer emphasizes the tremendous importance of friends and family members to support their loved one in their efforts to make changes.
"People love to have social support," Dr. Vollmer concluded.
He is exactly right. There's no way I would have ever been the incredible weight loss success had it not been for that group of people who rallied behind me to encourage me and keep me going when I might have felt like giving up on the low-carb lifestyle. This is such an important aspect of my weight loss and improvements in my health that I dedicated an entire chapter of my book to the subject of "A Support System That Sustains You."
The best part about the lifestyle changes that you make is that they get easier and easier the longer you do it. Think of it this way: Today will be easier to implement your lifestyle change that yesterday would have been and tomorrow is gonna be even better than today. How about that?! So what are you waiting for? Make the change to start livin' la vida low-carb and reap the benefits to your health as Dr. Vollmer so brilliantly discovered in his study.
On a personal note, my blood pressure was pretty high before I started losing weight in January 2004. I regularly saw my blood pressure get as high as 190/100. Not good! Obviously, I was put on blood pressure medicine to help regulate this, even as I was losing weight.
But a funny thing happened as nearly 200 pounds came melting off my body -- I NO LONGER NEEDED THAT DRUG TO LOWER MY BLOOD PRESSURE! Guess when it happened, too? You're gonna love this! Month 18. LOL! Dr. Vollmer, you are a genius!
You can e-mail Dr. William M. Vollmer to thank him for his study at William.Vollmer@kpchr.org.