This article has been medically approved by Pharmacist Sumaiya Patel - GPhC Reg No: 2215078
Losing weight is hard enough but preventing the excess weight from returning can be harder. The only reliable way to maintain weight loss is to combine healthy eating with exercise. The simple fact is that people typically become overweight when they consume more calories than they burn.
If you are very overweight you should consult your GP or health advisor first to determine how to start and how to exercise safely. You will most likely build up slowly to 30 minutes of moderate intensity exercise on at least five days of the week. Moderate intensity means that you are breathing slightly more than normal, but you can still comfortably talk as you exercise. UK guidelines say people should do 150 minutes of moderate, or 75 minutes of vigorous exercise, every week. It helps to choose exercises or physical activities that you enjoy; that get you outdoors, and that you can do with friends. Some ideas:
This is one of your best options for aerobic exercises. It requires no special equipment other than good footwear. Recent research has shown that a brisk long walk is as good as a run for cutting heart disease provided you use up the same amount of energy. This will mean walking further for longer than a person running. So a person walking a brisk 4.3 miles would reap the same health benefits as a person running 3 miles. For extra motivation, walk with a friend.
Swimming is another great exercise, especially if your joints don’t like walking. The water’s natural buoyancy counteracts the force of gravity making swimming ideal as a low impact sport that won’t stress your bones and joints. You should swim for at least 20 minutes continuously to make swimming aerobic. In this way you will burn fat, tone muscles (due to the effort required to overcome water resistance) and improve your heart health.
Cardio equipment such as exercise bikes, treadmills, and rowers can help with weight loss. This is because the more calories burnt, the more fat is burnt. As the weight comes off, your body will find it easier to ‘work’. Your heart will become more efficient making daily tasks - such as walking up the stairs - far easier.
Running burns more calories than walking as you consume more oxygen per mile you run than walking in addition to the impact factor. Circulation increases briefly as does the heartbeat. Once you get seasoned enough, you’ll begin to see the benefits. Running is one of the most efficient ways to burn calories. Because it is vigorous it stimulates more ‘afterburn’ than low-intensity exercise. This means your metabolic rate remains elevated even after you run. Running (or jogging) is also good for toning muscles. Rotating the torso as you run gives a smoother stride in addition to strengthening waist muscle. The great thing about running is that you can run virtually anywhere - making it a cheap and convenient option.
Exercise or Aerobics classes
Aerobic literally means ‘with oxygen’. Aerobic activity trains your cardiovascular system to deliver oxygen to your body more efficiently. Over time this means you’ll be able to exercise longer and recover more quickly. Exercise and aerobics classes can be great fun. Search for a class that is right for your fitness level.
What are the benefits of exercise?
The benefits of exercising are numerous. You’ll not only feel healthier but your body will start to become leaner and more toned. Your circulation will be improved and your weight loss will alleviate pressure put upon the heart, reducing your risk of heart disease. If you suffer from a condition such as Type 2 Diabetes you may even find your new healthy lifestyle enables you to reduce your reliance on medication. Carrying a lot of weight also puts pressure on your joints especially your ankles, knees and hips, losing weight will reduce this pressure helping you to lessen pain and move more freely. Exercise also improves our sense of well-being and mental health. The Royal College of Psychiatrists notes that exercise seems to have an effect on brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin - these are hormones that affect our mood and levels of happiness.
By losing weight and staying healthy through diet and exercise, you can enhance your mental and physical wellbeing 10-fold. Obesity can be debilitating and isolating. Losing weight through a healthy diet and regular exercise can give you a new lease of life.