It’s easy to fall prey to magazine articles and ads proclaiming dramatic weight loss or increased fitness benefits in “just six weeks” or less. To prove that developing fitness takes commitment and time, according to this article by Gina Kolata, scientists at the University of Wisconsin created a simple test.
For six weeks, male volunteers participated in regular strength or cardio training. Researchers took photos of them at the start and end of the study and asked a panel of independent participants to rate each body on a scale of 1 to 10. (Women didn’t participate in the study because the university’s ethics committee felt they wouldn’t react well to being judged in this manner.) The verdict: The subjects’ scores barely changed after six weeks, nor did health indicators like BMI or waist size.
So, don’t fall for those “get fit quick” schemes. Researchers say it takes six months to a year or more of consistent cardio and strength training to achieve significant fitness improvements. To stick with it for the long haul, have patience; reward yourself for reaching small goals along the way; and don’t forget to make exercise fun.