Physical Activity for Weight Loss - Topic Overview
Physical activity increases the amount of energy (calories) you burn.
Most weight-loss programs incorporate an exercise program—such as
jogging or biking. And you can also use more energy by changing some of your routine
activities, such as washing your car yourself instead of going to a car wash.
Choosing social activities that increase activity, such as joining a
gardening club or dancing, also increases the calories you burn.
Strength training, which builds muscle, is also an important part of weight-loss programs. Having more muscle will help you burn more calories throughout the day. Lifting weights in a supervised program is one way to do this. Other ways to improve your strength may involve slight changes to some daily activities. Check with your doctor about strength training that is right for you.
Always have a
medical evaluation before starting any new physical activity. If you have chest
pain or dizziness during any physical activity, stop and call your
If you have not exercised much in the past, your doctor
might first recommend a small amount of daily aerobic activity. For weight loss, though, experts advise doing
moderate activity for at least 5 hours a week.1 Try for 60 to 90 minutes a day, at least 5 days a week. It's fine to be active in blocks of 10 minutes
or more throughout your day and week. And you can choose to do one or both
types of activity: exercise programs and/or aerobic activities.
Aerobic exercise is used in weight-loss programs. It burns calories and
increases the amount of oxygen that is delivered to your muscles. Any activity
that raises your heart rate and keeps it up for an extended period of time will
improve your aerobic conditioning. You can exercise at one time or throughout
the day, whichever is most convenient. For example, you could walk for 10
minutes at one time and garden for 20 minutes later on, which would give you 30
minutes of activity for the day.
Examples of aerobic exercise
- Brisk walking, jogging, walking on a treadmill,
or riding a stationary
- Skating or cross-country skiing.