When considering weight loss, exercise often takes centre stage. However, determining the optimal amount of exercise can be perplexing.
Bill Daniels, founder of Beyond Fitness, emphasizes the multifaceted benefits of exercise, extending beyond weight loss to encompass mood enhancement and disease prevention such as heart disease, diabetes, and even some cancers. Exercise also increases strength, mobility, endurance, and stamina. in addition, it helps us move better, breathe better, and improve visceral (organ) health.

To shed pounds effectively, it’s crucial to strike a balance between caloric intake and
expenditure. Experts recommend engaging in approximately 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity weekly, or a combination of both. This exercise should be distributed across the week to maximize benefits.

The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) and the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advocate for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity on most days of the week. Alternatively, three or more sessions of vigorous activity lasting 20 minutes or longer per week can suffice. Strength training targeting major muscle groups should be incorporated at least twice weekly.

For significant weight loss or weight maintenance, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends a minimum of 300 minutes of moderate-intensity activity weekly, coupled with modest calorie reduction. If you modestly (not drastically) reduce your calorie intake in addition to exercise, this rate of physical activity per week is likely to improve your weight loss results.

Of course, it depends on your starting baseline, changes in dietary habits, and your individual response to these exercises and dietary changes, says Jason Machowsky, RD, CSSD, a sports dietitian and registered clinical exercise physiologist at Hospital for Special Surgery’s Tisch Sports Performance Centre.

Once you’ve reached your goal weight, the CDC suggests continuing to get at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity per week, 75 minutes of vigorous activity, or a mixture of the two. However, this figures varies individually. Some may need more exercise to maintain their weight.

Jennifer Sobel, NASM-certified personal trainer, underscores the importance of aligning exercise with individual metabolic needs. Calculating one’s basal metabolic rate (BMR) can help determine the necessary caloric deficit for weight loss. This, in turn, informs the design of an exercise regimen tailored to achieve desired goals. Jennifer Sobel, said “One of the biggest issues is that people often
wind up eating more because they think that if they exercise that day it entitles them to eat more food because they burn more calories,” Sobel says. “The thing is, we often burn a lot [fewer] calories exercising than we think, and it’s not hard to eat those equivalent calories we burned off in a workout, and then some.”

In addition to calorie expenditure, exercise contributes to muscle development, which plays a crucial role in boosting metabolism Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue, underscoring the importance of incorporating strength training into a weight loss regimen. Building a sustainable exercise routine entails selecting activities that are enjoyable and sustainable. Sobel advises against rapid progression, advocating for gradual increases in intensity to prevent burnout and minimize injury risks.

Cross-training, or diversifying one’s exercise routine, offers numerous benefits for weight
loss and overall fitness. Incorporating activities like strength training, flexibility exercises, and cardiovascular workouts can accelerate progress while reducing the risk of overuse injuries.
Nutrition is equally pivotal in supporting weight loss efforts. A diet rich in whole foods provides essential nutrients and fuels workouts, enhancing energy levels and optimizing performance. Prioritizing vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and minimizing processed foods is key to achieving lasting results.

Successful weight loss hinges on finding the right balance between diet and exercise. By understanding individual metabolic needs, tailoring exercise regimens accordingly, and adopting a wholesome approach to nutrition, sustainable weight loss can be achieved. Consistency, gradual progression, and enjoyment of physical activities are essential components of a successful weight loss journey.

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