Getting Active for Weight Loss
To lose weight you need to burn more calories than you consume. There are two main components to any weight loss program that will help you accomplish this: diet and exercise. Increasing your activity level can help with weight loss and maintenance, and can help improve your health, as well.
Exercise offers a collection of health benefits outside of weight loss, such as:
- Strengthened heart and a reduced risk of stroke, heart disease and high blood pressure
- Improved blood circulation
- Maintained muscle and bone strength
- Increased psychological well-being
Becoming Active in Everyday Tasks
Incidental activity is the activity that you engage in while going about everyday activities. In recent decades, the amount of activity the average person has to do daily at work greatly decreased. Approximately 80 percent of employment opportunities in the United States are now sedentary.
Moving more at work, walking places more often and finding opportunities to stand instead of sit can help you burn more calories, without feeling directly like exercise. There are small steps you can take to increase your activity level daily:
- Wear a pedometer and challenge yourself to walk more
- Find opportunities to walk farther distances instead of driving
- Use the stairs
- Try standing while working on a computer
- Find household tasks to keep you active instead of spending time on the couch
Most incidental activity is low-intensity, which makes it a great way to get started with exercise. As your weight loss doctor says you are ready, you can gradually incorporate planned exercise into your daily routine, as well.
Getting Started with Exercise
The American Heart Association recommends that every adult exercise for at least 30 minutes, five days a week. You may do this by exercising for one 30 minute session, or by breaking it up into smaller increments.
There are three primary forms of exercise. They are:
- Cardiovascular activity: Also known as aerobic exercise, these activities promote heart health. Common cardiovascular activities include running, walking, swimming and biking.
- Muscle building activity: Also referred to as strengthening activity, these exercises target and build muscle. This includes body weight exercises and weight lifting.
- Flexibility and stretching: These activities are easily incorporated into other workouts. These activities can increase your range of motion, help you gain better balance and can help tone and protect muscles. Yoga and Pilates are examples of this form of activity.
If you are new to regular exercise, start slow. Begin with a simple workout such as a brisk walk, lifting light hand weights or doing basic stretches. There are many different forms of activity out there that often incorporate several of these aspects of exercise into one workout session. As you get started, explore different workout options to find a routine that interests you.