Regular physical activity is not just important, it is essential to achieve good health, and it’s especially important if you are trying to lose weight or maintain a healthy lifestyle. Failure to exercise or be physically active can cause a wide array of health problems including weight gain and muscle atrophy.
When losing weight, more physical activity increases the number of calories your body burns. Naturally, you will still be overweight if you eat more than you can burn—so don’t think that diet isn’t just as important—they go together hand-in-hand!
Most weight loss occurs because of decreased calorie intake. If you eat less than you usually do, you will naturally drop weight. However, the only way to maintain your weight loss, get rid of fat and become better toned is to be engaged in regular physical activity.
Most importantly, physical activity reduces the risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
Physical activity also helps you to:
- Maintain weight.
- Reduce high blood pressure.
- Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer..
- Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability.
- Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls.
- Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
When it comes to weight management, every person gains, loses and maintains weight differently, and how much physical activity each person needs also varies depending on their current weight, their metabolism rate and how much exercise they do. Here are some main guidelines to follow:
To maintain your weight:
Ideally, you want to work your way up to 45 minutes per day of moderate-intensity aerobic activities 4 days every week and 30 minutes per day of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity 3 days every week.
To lose weight and keep it off:
Unlike weight maintenance, losing weight requires some more effort. Here, you will need a higher amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your diet and reduce the amount of calories you are eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan.
Definitions of Moderate and Vigorous Intensity Activities
While performing the physical activity, if your breathing and heart rate is noticeably faster but you can still carry on a conversation—it’s probably moderately intense. For example:
- Walking briskly (a 15-minute mile)
- Light yard work (raking/bagging leaves or using a push lawn mower)
- Light snow shoveling (for those living in the north!!!)
- Actively playing with children
- Biking at a casual pace
- Hiking (Could also be vigorous depending on the trail)
If your heart rate is increased substantially and you are breathing too hard and fast to have a conversation, it’s probably vigorously intense. For example:
- Swimming laps
- Rollerblading/inline skating at a brisk pace
- Cross-country skiing
- Most competitive sports (football, basketball, or soccer)
- Jumping rope
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