The Importance of Exercise and Weight Control
We talk a lot about how your diet affects your weight loss. It’s important to remember exercise is also key in weight loss and management. Persons who exercise regularly lose more weight and keep it off longer than non-exercisers. Here are some brief notes to keep in mind:
• Exercise also improves general health and well-being. Mood, confidence and self-esteem are enhanced by a sense of control and accomplishment.
• Exercise is a good way to ‘wake up’ a sluggish metabolism and burn extra fat tissue.
• Aerobic (huff and puff) exercise most days is great for burning calories and for cardiovascular fitness. But, it is strength training that mainly builds the muscles that burn calories even while we sleep.
Strength Training For Calorie Burn
Muscles are the furnaces that burn calories; the more muscle you have, the more calories you will burn. Strength training is the key to retaining
or rebuilding our muscles. As we age, we lose some 6 pounds of muscle per decade. This results in a lower metabolism and fewer calories being burnt. Here are some simple tips to get you started:
• Regular strength training (2-3 times weekly) can increase our metabolic rate for several days following exercise – and an extra 100 calories per day being burnt. While 2-3 pounds of muscle may be gained in the first 8-10 weeks, weight from exercised muscles is okay. It is excess fat (particularly abdominal fat) that is a potential health hazard. Gaining muscle and losing fat also helps body reshaping – even if the scales don’t show it.
• Avoid injury by beginning with walking, low impact aerobics, or weight-supported exercise (e.g. swimming, cycling). Avoid competitive sports. Allow 2-3 days of recovery between strength training sessions. Get professional advice ~ particularly if you have a medical condition.
• Start with 10-20 minutes per day and progress to 30-60 minutes per day.
We should all balance our strength training with some aerobic exercise. It can be as easier than you think to get a bit of aerobic exercise in your day:
• Walk up stairs instead of using elevators at work
• Take a brisk walk at lunch.
• Use an exercise bike, treadmill or stair machine while watching TV.
• Walk the dog.
How often should you get aerobic exercise? While aerobic fitness requires only 3-4 sessions weekly, weight control is a daily event that requires daily exercise to burn calories. Add in strength training 2-3 times weekly. For motivation, find an exercise buddy, personal trainer or join a gym.
For extra guidance on a new exercise program or to get a personalized assessment on what will work best for you, seek a qualified trainer or join a gym.
A great resource for finding a personal trainer near you is the American Council on Exercise.