Lack of physical activity is a major factor in our obesity epidemic. Modern life offers fewer opportunities for burning calories. With remote controls, elevators, easily accessible transportation, and the increasingly automated nature of our society we just simply are not getting enough physical activity and this is fueling our obesity epidemic.
Keep in mind, to control weight you need to exercise, and exercise can be fun! You can certainly reduce your weight by reducing your calorie intake. But by adding a 30-minute brisk walk four day a week, you can double your rate of weight loss. Boost that to five days a week and the rewards are greater. As an example of why exercise to lose weight makes such a difference, consider that those who work out five times a week have been found to lose three times as much fat as those who exercise only two or three times weekly.
The guidelines released from the National Academies Institute of Medicine recommend that adults and children should spend a total of at least one hour each day in moderately intense physical activity.
Two of the most common reasons people give for not exercising are—lack of time and can’t afford. We all seem to have very busy lifestyles and put exercise at the bottom of our list of priorities, while it should be near the top. There are so many ways that we can incorporate moderate physical activity into our daily lifestyle. Doing housework or gardening with vim and vigour, washing your car (instead of using the drive-through), dancing and brisk walking are just some examples of activities that we can work into our day with no cost. If you can’t fit an hour in, then try to spend a half hour in the morning and half hour in the evening. When you exercise to lose weight every little bit helps and the benefits are cumulative.
Consistent exercise promotes the loss of body fat in several ways:
• Increased energy expenditures. Exercise or physical activity burns calories and stored fat. Even if you continue to eat exactly as you do now, and start exercising consistently, you can lose 30 pounds over the next year.
• Afterburn. Your basal metabolic rate is heightened for four to 24 hours after vigorous physical activity.
•Increased lean body mass. Exercise is critical for building and maintaining strong, healthy muscles and muscle burns more calories than any other part of the body. Increasing lean muscle mass helps the body to utilize fat more efficiently as fuel. Dieting without exercise to lose weight can actually lead to loss of muscle mass along with fat. When this happens metabolism slows down and you burn fewer calories.
• Slowing down the movement of food through your digestive tract. Physical activity helps control your weight by slowing down the digestive process. Since your stomach takes longer to empty, you feel full longer.
•Balancing blood sugar. Exercise pulls stored calories, or energy, in the forms of glucose and fat out of tissues. In this way, blood glucose levels stay balanced and you are less likely to feel hungry.
As discussed earlier, being active daily is not only recommended, but essential for overall health. If you are interested in taking your weight loss program a step further and want to maximize fat loss, then it is important to consider regular exercise to lose weight that includes a combination of aerobic (cardiovascular) activity, toning/strength training and stretching.
Contrary to popular belief, doing aerobic activity alone is not the most effective way to lose body fat. Aerobic activities (walking, biking, dancing, etc.) do burn calories and provide health benefits, but resistance training (i.e., weight lifting) plays an even stronger role in weight loss because it boosts your metabolism, improves thermogenesis (calorie-burning) and promotes loss of body fat. These exercises build lean muscle mass. Remember, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. In fact, one pound of muscle burns roughly 50 calories per day, compared to one pound of fat, which burns only two to three calories per day.
Resistance training is particularly important for women because it helps slow down the muscle loss that occurs with aging. For those of you who are in your 40s, you may have noticed the undesirable shift in body composition that happens with age. We start to lose our muscle mass and gradually gain body fat, especially around the mid-section.
Another benefit of resistance training is that it improves balance, increases endurance and improves bone density (reducing the risk of osteoporosis).
To create an effective program of exercise to lose weight, choose a balance of activities, in a particular order. It was previously thought that cardio exercises should be done first, to allow the muscles to warm up and to maximize fat loss. However, during the first 20 minutes of your workout, sugar (carbohydrate), rather than fat, is the primary source of fuel. So, in order to burn fat calories with aerobic activities, you have to do more than 20 minutes of that activity.
Unfortunately, most people do not have the time to spend more than 20 minutes on the treadmill or bike. Many sports researchers feel that it is much better to do cardio after your weight-training routine. This way, our bodies will be switched into fat-burning mode and you can take advantage of the endorphins and hormones (testosterone and growth hormone) that are released after your weight workout.