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Pain Management Health Center

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Move to Lose Weight

Being overweight puts a lot of stress on your joints. Getting more active can help you burn calories and trim down -- and reduce the stress on your joints. Build up to a consistent routine.

Exercise Caution

If you're new to exercise, start by asking your doctor what activity level is right for you. For example, if you have acute back pain you may have to avoid exercise until your back has healed. Also, ask what types of exercise suit your condition. Water aerobics is often ideal for people with arthritis because it supports joints. Remember, exercise shouldn't hurt. If you notice an increase in pain, stop and tell your doctor. There may be other types of exercise that you can do.

Get Started Today

If you haven't been exercising, you may wonder how you'll ever get fit. The answer is one step at a time. Start where you are and set reasonable goals. If walking for 30 minutes all at once is too much, start with 5 or 10 minutes -- or whatever you can do comfortably. Then add a minute at a time as long as it doesn't cause pain. Measure your progress only against yourself, and try not to compare yourself with others. Then plan non-food rewards as you reach new goals.

Exercise Your Fun

Stop thinking of physical activity as exercise. Just do activities you enjoy. You don't have to go to the gym for a good workout. It's all about moving -- however you do it. Walk the dog. Have a dance contest. Walk to the store. Shoot some hoops with your kids. There are all kinds of opportunities to get fit-- and every activity you do adds up to a fitter you. Find the ones that you get excited about. You're more likely to keep moving if you're having fun.

Go for Consistency

To get the best results, spread your exercise out over the week. Exercising at least 3 days a week will keep your energy levels up, improve your heart health, and help prevent any exercise-related injuries. Over time, gradually build up to 30 minutes of exercise on most days of the week. You don't have to do all 30 minutes in one sitting. Doing 3 sessions of 10 minute exercise works, too.

Exercise Counts

All adults are urged to shoot for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise each week. To lose weight, you need to do even more than that. Brisk walking and water aerobics are both examples of moderate exercise. You may not be able to do that much exercise at first, but that's OK. Make it a goal, and gradually build up to it. You'll soon start seeing health benefits in better fitness, weight loss, and maybe even less pain.

Numbers Count

To lose weight, you need to burn more calories than you take in. Being active helps you burn calories -- but how much? Here are some examples of about how many calories a 180 pound person would burn from 30 minutes of these activities:

* Water aerobics: 165

* Brisk walking uphill: 245

* Brisk bicycling: 327

* Playing with children: 164

* Swimming vigorously: 405

* Gardening: 164

Add more time, and you'll burn more calories!

Fat-Burning Workout

To burn fat, gradually pump up the intensity and frequency of your workouts. If you work out 2 days a week, try 3. If you walk for half-an-hour, increase it by 5 minutes at a time as you get more in shape. Try interval training -- that is, alternating bursts of quicker walking with bursts of slower walking. Add weight training. Start with light weights. Aim for at least 2 times a week. All these activities will help boost your fat-burning potential.

Fire-up Metabolism

Include resistance exercises at least 2 times a week to improve muscle strength and mobility. Stronger muscles help reduce joint pain by better supporting joints. Building muscle also increases your metabolism and helps you lose weight. Try resistance bands, free weights, or weight machines for strength training. Talk with a trainer if you're not sure how to do certain exercises. Proper form is key to safe exercise. See the exercise Goal "Strength Train" to learn more.

Stay Motivated

Identify your own personal reason to get fit. Whether it's weight control, muscle strength, reduced pain, or just being healthier, it has to matter to you. To keep up your motivation over time, you also need to find internal motivators. Maybe a walk or run every day helps you let go of stress. Or maybe going to yoga classes helps you look and feel better. Think about what's rewarding to you about being active -- that will help you stay motivated.

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