Exercise and Weight Loss
Regular physical activity is an important part of effective weight loss. It helps to control your weight by using excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat, and it boosts your metabolism and lowers insulin levels. Physical activity also helps prevent many diseases and improves overall health.
Your weight is determined by the number of calories you eat each day minus what your body uses. Everything you eat contains calories, and everything you do uses calories, including sleeping, breathing, and digesting food. Any physical activity in addition to your activities of daily living burn those extra calories.
Balancing the number of calories you expend through physical activity with the calories you eat will help you achieve your desired weight. The key to successful weight loss and improved overall health is making physical activity a part of your daily routine.
The Health Benefits of Physical Activity
Research consistently shows that regular physical activity, combined with healthy eating, is the most efficient and healthful way to control your weight.
Research also shows that in addition to helping to control weight, regular physical activity can reduce your risk for several diseases and conditions and improve your overall quality of life. Regular exercise can help prevent:
- Heart disease and stroke. Daily physical activity can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart muscle, lowering your blood pressure, raising your HDL ("good" cholesterol), and lowering LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), improving blood flow, and increasing your heart's working capacity.
- High blood pressure. Regular physical activity reduces blood pressure in people with high blood pressure (hypertension).
- Diabetes. By reducing body fat, physical activity can help to prevent and control type 2 diabetes.
- Back pain. By increasing muscle strength and endurance and improving flexibility and posture, regular physical activity can prevent back pain.
- Osteoporosis. Regular weight-bearing exercise promotes bone formation and may prevent many forms of bone loss associated with aging.
Regular physical activity can also improve mood and the way you feel about yourself. It is likely to reduce depression and anxiety and help you to better manage stress. Physical activity is also a natural and inexpensive antidepressant.
Types of Physical Activity
It does not matter what type of physical activity you perform: Sports, planned exercise, household chores, yard work, or work-related tasks all are beneficial.
Over the past few years, exercise advertisements have targeted simplified exercise routines for weight loss and maintenance. Some exercise advertisements sell the belief that one machine will work your entire body and give you the results you need. However, many of these machines may only be good for one type of conditioning, such as cardiovascular; these machines also have limitations to the type of exercise you can do and they are not good for everyone. To determine the best type of physical activity for you, talk to your doctor and a certified athletic trainer.