There is much debate as to how long must one exercise to maintain a healthy body or how much is enough. The amount of exercise required to maintain a healthy body depends on the individual and their current state of health.
The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that adults engage in at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity on most, preferably all, days of the week (Cooper et al., 2007).
Moderate-intensity physical activity is defined as activity that increases your heart rate and makes you breathe harder than normal but still allows you to carry on a conversation while exercising. Examples include brisk walking, water aerobics, gardening or cycling at about 12 miles per hour or less. In addition to moderate-intensity physical activity, adults should also do muscle strengthening activities at least two days each week (Cooper et al., 2007).
Muscle strengthening activities are exercises that use resistance such as weight lifting or using elastic bands for stretching exercises. Adults should avoid inactivity because it can lead to poor health outcomes such as increased risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes (Cooper et al., 2007).
In addition to doing regular exercise there are other things an adult can do daily including: being physically active during leisure time; walking when possible; taking stairs instead of elevators; parking farther away from destinations; getting up from sitting every 30 minutes; avoiding prolonged television watching; limiting sedentary behaviors such as reading books while lying down or sitting all day at work without getting up often enough (CDC 2012a).
There are many benefits associated with regular exercise including: increased energy levels, improved moods and feelings of well being which leads to better sleep patterns and decreased stress levels (CDC 2012b); improved ability to concentrate which leads to better performance in school or work environments (CDC 2012c); decreased risk for obesity which decreases the risk for developing cardiovascular disease later in life (CDC 2012d); lower blood pressure which decreases the risk for developing hypertension later in life(CDC 2012e); decreased chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life(CDC 2012f)
Leading a sedentary life has several health risks
There are many health risks associated with leading a sedentary life. The most common health risk is obesity which is defined as having an excessive amount of body fat (CDC 2012g). There are several ways to determine if you are obese or overweight. One way is to calculate your body mass index (BMI) by dividing your weight in kilograms by the square of your height in meters. If you have a BMI between 25 and 29.9, you are considered overweight; if you have a BMI of 30 or higher, you are considered obese (CDC 2012h). Another way to determine if you have excess body fat is to measure the circumference of your waist at the level of your belly button using a tape measure and compare it with recommended measurements for adults according to age and gender (CDC 2012i). For men, abdominal obesity begins at 40 inches; for women, abdominal obesity begins at 35 inches. A third way to determine if one has excess body fat is by measuring skinfold thickness using calipers on specific sites on the body such as triceps, subscapular and suprailiac areas (CDC 2012j). These measurements can be used along with BMI calculations in order to determine whether an individual has excess body fat or not.
Another health risk associated with leading a sedentary lifestyle is cardiovascular disease which includes heart disease and stroke(CDC 2012k). Cardiovascular disease can lead to death but it can also be prevented through regular exercise(Cooper et al., 2007). Regular exercise helps prevent cardiovascular disease because it lowers blood pressure levels which decreases the risk for developing hypertension later in life(Cooper et al., 2007); increases HDL cholesterol levels which decreases the risk for developing coronary artery disease later in life(Cooper et al., 2007); improves blood flow throughout the entire circulatory system including all major arteries such as carotid arteries that supply oxygen rich blood throughout the brain(Cooper et al., 2007); increases insulin sensitivity which decreases one’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes later in life(Cooper et al., 2007); reduces triglyceride levels which decrease ones chance of developing coronary artery disease later in life(Cooper et al., 2007)
The benefits of a low calorie diet or intermittent fasting
When you are trying to lose weight, it is important to be aware of the calories that you consume. You can find out how many calories are in the food that you eat by looking at the nutritional information on the packaging. It is also possible to use a calorie counter app on your phone or computer.
The benefits of a low calorie diet include:
* Losing weight – if you consume fewer calories than your body needs, then it will burn fat and use this as energy instead. This means that over time, your body will become smaller and lighter as fat stores are used up.
* Achieving healthy eating habits – when you have reduced your calorie intake, it is likely that you will start to make healthier choices about what foods to eat and how much of them. This means that if your weight loss goal is achieved, then these healthy eating habits can continue for life so long as they remain realistic for yourself.
Concluding remarks on exercise and a low calorie diet
Exercise and a low calorie diet go hand in hand. It is not enough to put in lots of work at the gym while following an even more restrictive diet. You want to create a calorie deficit so that your body is forced to use its fat stores as energy. You will be able to get to that stage faster if you incorporate exercise into your diet regime.
However it is important that you workout in a way that does not consume too many of your calories. You want to make sure that you don’t offset the calorie deficit you created with your diet. Find exercise that you can do for a long duration and which uses a lot of calories (especially when it comes to weight training). Also make sure you don’t train too hard as this can also negate the calorie deficit you had created by restricting your calorie intake.
If you do combine both a low calorie diet and exercise (especially if you are lean already) and you get frustrated at the lack of progress you are experiencing, consider switching to a more aggressive diet plan with more calories.
So instead of keeping the ratio at 50/30/20, it might be more appropriate to switch it to 40/30/30. Having more calories available might allow you to build muscle and strength at a quicker rate.
Most people overcomplicate the whole “How to lose weight” equation. There is actually very little to consider when it comes to losing weight.
The basics of losing weight are pretty simple:
If you consume less calories than you burn, you will lose weight.
Ideally keeping the calorie deficit at around 500 calories per day.
Those 500 calories will add up to 1,800 calories over a week.
One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories. So you would lose 1 pound of fat per week.
Keeping your calories around or about your maintenance calories should allow you to lose 1-2 pounds a week.
Also no matter what kind of diet you choose, the best way to prevent weight gain is to eat at maintenance.
It doesn’t mean you have to eat double the amount of food you consume when you are not trying to lose weight.
You need to make sure you are eating at the right amount that is neither too much or too little.
For most people you will be able to maintain your weight very easily if you eat at maintenance or a little below it.
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