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Working Exercise Into Your Life

One way to make exercise a daily habit is to integrate your workout into your regular life, says Walter Thompson, PhD, professor of exercise physiology at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Physical activity - not just exercise per se -- can become part of your daily routine, Thompson tells WebMD. "People think they have to strap on running shoes and run a marathon to call it exercise. I talk more about integrating physical activity into your daily lifestyle."

His advice: "When you go to the mall, the grocery store, the office, park your car as far away from the front door as you can. Take the stairs rather than the elevator. These are habits you can get used to. They will become common practice."

Structured physical activity is also important. Walking, yoga, lifting weights, biking, running, and swimming - could all be a morning exercise choice. Here's an estimate of the average calorie-burn potential from 30 minutes of exercise:

Vigorous Exercise
Running or jogging (5 mph) = 295 calories
Bicycling (10 mph or more) = 195 calories
Swimming (slow freestyle laps) = 255 calories
Aerobics = 240 calories
Basketball = 220 calories

Moderate Exercise
Walking (3.5 miles mph) = 140 calories
Weight training (light workout) = 110 calories
Stretching = 90 calories
Biking (less than 10 mph) = 145 calories
Dancing = 165 calories

One recent study noted that yoga - a popular morning activity - can help prevent the dreaded middle-age spread and even help shed unwanted pounds. Researchers looked at normal and overweight men and women who practiced yoga regularly (at least one session of 30 minutes or more per week) for four years or more. It compared their weight with the weight of people who didn't do yoga.

Normal-weight people who practiced yoga gained less than those who didn't practice yoga. Overweight people who practiced yoga lost an average of 5 pounds; those who didn't practice gained about 14 pounds.

Yoga's effect may have more to do with body awareness than the actual calories burned during the average session, researchers say. During yoga practice, you are more aware of your body - which can prompt you to quit eating when you're full.

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