What is the effect of exercise on weight loss?

If you’ve ever wished for a “magic bullet” to better your overall health and control your weight, exercise might be the closest thing to it. The most effective way to achieve significant weight loss is through a combination of reduced-calorie dieting and regular physical activity. Exercise can help you reach–and maintain–a healthy weight, help you manage stress, and can lower your risk for such health conditions as heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and diabetes.

At Lindora, we recommend that people aim for 10,000 steps a day–and track every step taken (even those steps from the car to the office) by wearing a pedometer. The current exercise prescription by the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) to maintain normal weight and prevent diseases related to inactivity is 60 minutes of cumulative exercise most days of the week. If that seems like a lot more than you are used to, try starting with just 30 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.

If you don’t have a 30-minute block of time to spare during your day, breaking it into smaller sessions–such as walking for 15 minutes at lunch and then for another 15 minutes after dinner–still yields the same great benefits. 10,000 steps also sounds like a lot to some people, but many simply start at a lower count and slowly work their way up, adding a few extra steps every day until they get to their goal. Wearing a pedometer can make you much more aware of how much you move, and keeps you focused on finding new ways to add steps!

If you’re trying to lose weight, adding exercise to your program can enhance your results more quickly than diet alone–it’s one of the most effective ways to naturally increase ketosis.

Your doctor or nurse can help you decide which type of exercise program will be best for you during your weight loss program, but the mainstay of exercise for weight loss is moderate intensity (such as walking), or any activity that keeps you in constant motion without leaving you breathless. Here’s a good rule of thumb: You should still be able to talk while exercising. On the other hand, if you can sing like a bird, you’re not working hard enough. Aerobic/Cardiovascular exercise (such as walking, bicycling, water aerobics or gardening) can benefit you by:

• Reducing your risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers

• Increasing HDL (good) cholesterol

• Reducing the symptoms of anxiety and depression

• Promoting a sense of well being

• Building and maintaining healthy bones and muscles

• Increasing oxygen-rich blood to feed your cells

Using weight resistance or strength training (such as lifting weights) can benefit you by:

• Enhancing your strength

• Increasing your lean muscle mass

• Improving your bone density (thereby decreasing the risk of such degenerative diseases as arthritis and osteoporosis.

• Help you burn fat.

Participating in exercises that promote flexibility/stretching (such as yoga, pilates, or ballet) can benefit you by:

• Increasing the length of both your muscles and tendons—leading to increased range of movement in your limbs.

How can you become a life-long exerciser? Here are a few tips:

• Find an exercise partner—you can help motivate each other every day.

• Wake up 30 minutes earlier in the morning to exercise, to maintain it as a priority.

• Spice up your workouts by listening to music or books on CD (make your own personally motivating “mix” of favorites.

• Try different forms of exercise until you find one you like—it’s much easier to stick with an activity that you look forward to.