Effects of Exercise on Weight Loss

Each week we’ll be pulling out one of your emails from our mail bag and featuring them here. Feel free to submit as many questions as you would like. All questions having to do with Nutrition, Weight Loss and Obesity-related health conditions are fair game.

“Dr. Kim,

I've been exercising a lot lately to help with my weight loss, but I haven't really noticed much change. How much exercise should I be doing?

- Janet W.

This is a question that gets asked frequently. First things first; you don’t need to exercise to lose weight. Cutting back on calories is enough to help you lose weight. Exercise can help you lose weight, but the weight loss returns you get from exercise are not as great as people think. You have to exercise quite a bit to see the weight loss benefits. Does this mean you shouldn’t exercise? Absolutely not. There are other benefits to exercise; among them are improved cardiovascular health and fitness, strengthened bones, improved balance, and many times. an improved sense of well being and confidence.

If you have found it difficult to start an exercise regimen, here are some helpful pointers to get you started. Set a date in the very near future to start your exercise program. You don’t even have to start exercising the first few days. Just set aside some time where you just think about exercise. Or if you have a treadmill at home, just stand on the treadmill for 15 minutes. If you have a bicycle or a stationary bike, just sit on it for 15 minutes while you watch television or make a phone call. Committing time to exercise has become the most difficult part about exercising. Once you overcome that hurdle, it becomes a bit easier to actually start exercising.

Once you have overcome the commitment hurdle, you’re ready to start your routine. For the first week or two, keep your routine as simple as possible. I like to use the example of walking for exercise. I tell people who have chosen walking as their exercise to walk around their block once. Just once. Keep doing that until it becomes routine. Then, when you feel up to it, expand that walk to two, then three blocks. Keep building it up until you have reached your goal. Again, it’s not the actual exercise that people find difficult, it’s the commitment to exercise. Once you start to do it regularly, you will start to miss it if you don’t do it. That’s where you want to be.

Another question that gets asked about exercise is, “What’s the best exercise for me?” The answer I give to people is simple: whatever exercise you like to do. When people first start thinking about exercise, many of them will think about jogging. But if you don’t like to jog, don’t do it. Otherwise, you’re only going to do it for a week or two, then you’ll stop and give up on exercise altogether. Whatever exercise you choose, keep it simple and keep it fun.

These are great questions. Keep them coming!

For your reference I have included some guidelines for exercise. The amount of physical activity to maintain fitness (not to lose weight) can be found in the 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Similar guidelines are also endorsed by the American College of Sports Medicine.

For an average adult, the recommended weekly exercise is 150 minutes per week of moderate intensity aerobic activity. This can include:

  • Walking fast
  • Doing water aerobics
  • Riding a bike on level ground or with few hills
  • Playing doubles tennis
  • Pushing a lawn mower

Plus two or more days a week of muscle strengthening activities that work all the major muscle groups.

What’s great about working with a medical weight loss center is that not only do you have access to diet plans, a FDA approved weight loss program, safe appetite suppressants and a medical weight loss clinic, you have a place to ask questions, get tips (such as midsection diet) and discover creative weight management programs that allow you to get long-lasting results. It’s the best way to truly change your lifestyle and create a healthier you.

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