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Exercise Plans for Weight Loss
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Best Weight Loss Exercise

Increasing daily lifestyle activities can be just as effective as a structured aerobic exercise program in maintaining long-term weight loss. In a study, obese women were randomized to 16 weeks of treatment with a behavioral therapy program and a 1200 kcal/d diet with either structured aerobic exercise (three 45-minute step aerobics classes weekly) or instructions for increasing moderate-intensity lifestyle activities by 30 minutes per day on most days of the week (e.g. walk instead of drive short distances; take stairs instead of elevators) [1]. Initial weight loss was similar in both groups at 16 weeks and the lifestyle activity participants showed a trend toward better long-term maintenance of weight loss. These findings demonstrate that education to alter lifestyle activities is a reasonable alternative to programmed exercise for obese patients.

[1] Andersen RE, Wadden TA, Bartlett SJ, et al. Effects of lifestyle activity vs structured aerobic exercise in obese women: a randomized trial. JAMA 1999;281:335-340.

Exercise Plans for Weight Loss

Most weight loss occurs because of decreased caloric intake. Sustained physical activity is most helpful in the prevention of weight regain. In addition, physical activity helps to reduce cardiovascular and diabetes risks beyond what weight reduction alone can do.

Best Exercise for Weight Loss

Exercise is a central part of any weight loss program. Not only exercise helps you lose weight faster, but it is extremely helpful for long-term success. People who include regular physical activity in their lifestyle as part of the effort to achieve their ideal weight are much more likely to succeed after 1 year than those who rely entirely on dieting. In addition, exercise has significant beneficial effects on your general health, decreasing the risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and a numerous other diseases.

Start exercising slowly, and gradually increase the intensity. Trying too hard at first can lead to injury. Your exercise can be done all at one time or intermittently over the course of the day. Initial activities may be walking or swimming at a slow pace. You can start by walking slowly for 30 minutes 3 days a week. Then build to 45 minutes of more intense walking at least 5 days a week.

With this regimen, you can burn 100 to 200 calories per day.

All adults should set a long-term goal to accumulate at least 30 minutes or more of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, and preferably all, days of the week. This regimen can be adapted to other forms of physical activity, but walking is particularly attractive because of its safety and accessibility. Also, try to change everyday activities; for example, take the stairs instead of the elevator. Reducing sedentary time is a good strategy to increase activity by undertaking frequent, less strenuous activities.76 With time, you may be able to—and you may want to—engage in more strenuous activities. Competitive sports such as tennis and volleyball can provide an enjoyable form of exercise, but you must take care to avoid injury.

How Does Exercise Help Me Lose Weight?

Of the total energy (or, if you prefer, calories) your body burns each day to function, only about 15% is energy spent by doing physical activity. This is due in part to the high efficiency of the body machine (mainly muscles) who is able to produce a lot of work with minimal fuel consumption, but also to the largely sedentary lifestyle most people have become accustomed to these days. During high-intensity aerobic exercise, such as vigorous running or cycling, energy consumed by working muscles can increase more than 50-fold, causing a 15-fold increase in total energy expenditure for the duration of that particular activity. Over a 24 hr period, this can translate in a 30% contribution of physical activity to the total energy spent. You can see from these numbers how valuable exercise is for weight control.

Are Some Types of Physical Activity Better than Others?

Any exercise is good. In fact, researchers have found that fidgeting (which can hardly be considered a form of exercise :-)) is associated with a lower body weight... However,some types of exercise present advantages that make them more appropriate for most people who want to lose weight.

The ideal weight-loss-inducing exercise should be easy to perform, would not require special facilities or equipment, could be done in all types of weather, by both young and elderly, and pose minimal risks to those who engage in it. Last but not least, it would produce significant increase in the number of calories burned. While the ideal exercise is still elusive, the closest match by far is walking.

How Many Calories Do I Need to Burn Through Exercise to Lose Weight?

We recommend you start slowly, especially if you have not been exercising regularly before. Your goal is initiall to get started on a regular physical activity program. Once you feel more comfortable with your exercise regime, our program establishes a daily goal of calories burned through exercise. This is usually in the range of 100-200 calories/day initially. By the end of the first two months into the program, you should be able to burn about 250 calories a day through exercise.

As an example, for a mildly overweight female, during her first few months on the program, she will achieve a deficit of 500 calories per day, which will translate into a weight loss of about 1 lb. of body weight per week.

Does Your Program Provide Tools For Tracking Calories Burned By Exercise?

Once you become a registered member of Weight Loss For Life, you will get access to a section of your account that will allow you to choose from a selection of over 60 types of physical activity and thereby track the number of calories you burned each day by exercise. This is a powerful tool that will allow you to stay focused and in control of your weight loss regimen.

Keeping an accurate record of your physical activity and dietary habits plays a crucial role in any successful weight loss program.

Dr Gily


All materials on this page and website are provided for your information only and may not be construed as medical advice or instruction. No action or inaction should be taken based solely on the contents of this information; instead, you should consult your doctor on any matter relating to your health and well-being. The information and opinions expressed here are believed to be accurate, based on the best judgement available at the time of publishing, and readers who fail to consult with appropriate health authorities assume the risk of any injuries.

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