Exercise to Speed Up Weight Loss
Although regular exercise is not a compulsory part of the weight loss process it certainly helps, producing quicker and longer-lasting results.
Studies have shown that that people who combine dieting with exercise will lose more weight and fat, and have a greater improvement in the hip-to-waist ratio, than those who simply restrict their calorie intake.
Regular exercise helps by increasing the amount of calories you burn daily. Just as importantly, it builds muscle tissue which can increase your resting metabolism - the rate at which you burn calories whilst being inactive. This is because muscle cells burn more calories when resting than do fat cells. Dieting alone causes your body to lose both muscle and fat cells, whereas exercise maximises fat loss whilst building muscle.
How much exercise do I need to do to see the benefits?
Scarily, you need to use up 3,500 calories to burn up just one pound! But don't let these figures put you off. The best way to lose body fat is to do sustained aerobic exercise for around 30 minutes most days of the week. This doesn't necessarily mean pounding the pavements in your running shoes or pumping weights in the gym; moderate intensity activities such as walking and cycling can help burn fat and build muscle mass.
Nowadays it's getting harder and harder to fit regular exercise in to a busy schedule, but the important thing to remember is that exercise can be defined by physical activity of any sort. This means that walking to the shop instead of driving, gardening and even housework are activities that form a part of an active lifestyle. Try to make regular exercise a habit rather than a chore.
Choose a variety of physical activities to keep both your mind and body simulated and to exercise all the muscle groups in the body. And if exercising alone is starts to turn into a monotonous regime, try joining sports classes such as salsa or kick-boxing. Exercising communally is a lot more fun and easier to stick to than calorie counting on your own.
What other health benefits will I gain from exercising regularly?
Regular physical activity produces numerous health benefits other than just weight loss. These include:
- Improved mood and feelings of well-being. Exercise triggers the release of endorphins in the body; these are hormones that give us a natural 'high'. Feeling positive makes it much easier to stick to a weight loss program even on the bad days when you don't seem to be making much progress.
- A reduced risk of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, cholesterol, heart disease, osteoporosis and arthritis. Exercise also helps build stronger bones, joints and muscles.
- An increase in perceived energy levels. Having more get-up-and-go on a day-to-day basis will make the task of fitting exercise into a busy schedule a lot less daunting.
- Improved flexibility and balance, which also helps improve your posture. A better posture will instantly make you look taller and slimmer.
Exercise is particularly important in that once it becomes a habit (which happens a lot more easily than you may think!) it helps in maintaining a balanced long-term weight. Remember to think of exercise in terms of its health benefits as well as its effectiveness in burning calories. Take heart from the fact that even if you don't seem to be losing weight quickly, every 30 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity does your body a huge favour.