“Exercise is the most potent therapeutic intervention in medicine.” – C. Everett Koop
Aside from dietary modifications, exercise is another important factor when you are trying to lose weight. According to the International Association for the Study of Obesity, a minimum of 60 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity is recommended to lose weight and to avoid regaining that weight back. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend that adults meet one of the following guidelines in order to stay healthy.
- 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every week: Moderate activity will raise your heart rate and make you breathe faster and feel warmer. One way to tell if you are working at a moderate level is if you can still talk, but you cannot sing the words to a song.
- Brisk walking
- Water aerobics
- Riding a bike on leveled-ground or with few hills
- Double’s tennis
- Pushing a lawn mower
- In-line skating
- 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity every week: Vigorous activity makes you breathe hard and fast. If you are working at this level, you will not be able to say more than a few words without pausing for breath.
- Jogging or running
- Swimming fast
- Riding a bike fast or on hills
- Single’s tennis
- Skipping rope
- Martial arts
- A mix of moderate and vigorous aerobic activity every week: For example, two 30-minute runs plus 30 minutes of brisk walking is equivalent of 150 of moderate aerobic activity.
On top of the above recommendations, the HHS also suggests that adults work all of the major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) on at least two days every week. Muscle strength is needed not only for daily movement but also to build and maintain strong bones, regulate blood sugar and blood pressure, and help maintain a healthy weight.
- Lifting weights
- Working with resistance bands
- Doing exercises that use your own body weights, such as push-ups and sit-ups
- Heavy gardening, such as digging and shoveling
So, if you are trying to lose weight or just to maintain a healthy body, then get up and get moving. Keep in mind that exercise is not an all-or-nothing deal. If you do not like to exercise or just cannot get to a gym, you can still move your body in other ways throughout the day, such as by parking farther from the door so you will walk more OR by doing some jumping jacks during commercial breaks while watching your favorite show. Physical activity does not have to be another daunting chore in your day. Just find something that you can enjoy. Whether it be indoors or outdoors, on your own or in group, getting started will get you one step closer to your fitness goals.