Has your exercise program dropped off because you are too focused on the number of pounds you want to lose and which are not coming off as you thought they would? Both exercise and diet are critical to a healthy lifestyle, but when your focus is out of balance, it is easy to get discouraged.
Exercise plays an important role in a healthy lifestyle, but when the pounds are not coming off, people often back off on the exercise, not knowing the role it plays. So, what role does exercise play in weight loss? Here are some points to keep in mind as you pursue a healthy lifestyle.
IS YOUR WEIGHT LOSS GOAL REALISTIC? First, keep in mind that exercise can lead to modest weight loss, in conjunction with a healthy diet. Do not expect the pounds to drop off just because you are exercising daily. Ask yourself: Is your weight loss goal realistic? And is that goal realistic in the timeframe you have selected to lose it in? If the answer to both is no, then you will likely give up on both the diet and exercise.
LOSING FAT IS THE KEY TO LOSING POUNDS. Over the years, the medical community has concluded that losing fat is more important than losing weight when it comes to your health. And that is where exercise comes in. If you want to lose fat, then you are going to have to extend your daily exercise to one hour a day to optimize fat loss that results in lost pounds.
THE MAINTENANCE EXERCISE PROGRAM. A half hour of exercise is really what is called a “maintenance” exercise program. The maintenance program means that you do not gain, but neither do you lose—you just maintain, a good thing once you have reached your goal weight. If you are a diabetic, that first half hour is still very good—your body is burning carbohydrates, which diabetics have to restrict. But if you need to lose pounds, then it is the next half hour that starts to burn the fat.
THE BEST AND CHEAPEST EXERCISE FOR LOSING FAT. Many people already include walking in their lifestyle and as a way to maintain weight loss. But when you need to lose pounds, you need to step up the walking to an intensity that burns fat. You need to be walking at a pace that is more than half of your effort, and be using a large muscle group—your legs, at a pace between where you are not out of breath in a few minutes, but is more than what it was when you started. By making your muscles more efficient, you can burn more fat. Click here to calculate your target heart rate using the Mayo Clinic’s instant tool. You can increase intensity by varying the incline of the walk—which is easy to do when you are on a treadmill; or walk where there are hills.
As we age, we lose muscle mass. Everyone needs to minimize that loss to prevent all kinds of problems, including heart disease, loss of flexibility, insulin sensitivity, increased risk for falls, and general weight gain. A good exercise program, when combined with a healthy diet and lifestyle, can go a long way toward improving your quality of life in your later years. Just don’t fall into the mistake of believing it is the elixir for weight loss.
FOR THOSE IN ALBUQUERQUE: If you want a well-designed exercise program that focuses on fat loss, check out the personal trainers at the Presbyterian Healthplex.