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Losing Weight: Activity and Exercise

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While activity is an important part of any weight loss regimen, it's also critical for wellness in general. That's why the Dietary Guideliens and other public health organizations recommend that adults (ages 18 to 64 years) get at least 150 minutes of moderately intense aerobic activity every week, plus some weight-bearing exercise.

If you don't get that much physical activity, then the good news is that by stepping it up a little, you may find it easier to maintain or lose weight! However, you also need to be careful not to overdo it.

Here, then, are some basic guidelines for integrating exercise into your weight loss plan, as well as a few tips for squeezing a little more activity into each day.

physical activity: by the numbers

Lots of folks find it hard to get enough exercise, so if you're having difficulty making time for it, you're not alone. According to the latest estimates, less than 20 percent of American adults meet the physical activity guidelines set by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and included in the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans!

Here's where the bar is currently set by the Dietary Guidelines. To follow the recommendations for good health, you’ll need to do:

moderately intense aerobic activity,
like taking a brisk walk, for 150 minutes a week.

OR

vigorous aerobic activity,
such as running or jogging, for 75 minutes per week.

PLUS

muscle-strengthening exercises,
like lifting weights, at least two days a week.,

If you don't already get this kind of exercise, you'll have to start slow and build your way up to a good, regular routine. Always check with your doctor or healthcare team to be sure this kind of activity is right for you.

maintaining your weight vs. losing weight

These recommendations are a good start, but they don't necessarily help with weight loss. Shedding pounds is a little more complicated than that, since it also depends on what your diet looks like as well.

If weight maintenance is your goal, then changes in at least one-half of the equation — diet or exercise — need to be included to keep the pounds from creeping up.

If weight loss is your goal, then you’ll most likely need to step up your exercise AND eat fewer calories. And you’ll want your meals to contain less fat, more whole grains, lean proteins and plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables.

tips for getting more exercise

You don't have to buy an expensive gym membership in order to pack more activity into each week. Here are some things you can do to get a little more exercise the easy way.

  1. Go for walks. Even if you take a stroll for just 10 minutes after every meal, you're actually getting more exercise each week than the recommendations (210 minutes vs. 150 minutes).
  2. Mow your lawn. It may sound silly, but pushing a lawnmower is work, and it has the added benefit of getting one of your household chores done.
  3. Play an informal team sport. Do your coworkers play volleyball, softball or basketball together? Consider joining in. Even kickball or golf will do! It's a great way to have fun and make new friends, even as you're exercising.
  4. Try yoga. This mind-body regimen takes more work than you might think, yet it's generally easy on joints and muscles and can help with balance and flexibility.
  5. Use your treadmill. You'd be surprised what you can do while walking in place — watch television, catch the news, read, listen to music, talk on the phone or even surf the 'net.
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