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Restricting the number of calories you eat leads to weight loss. However, cutting calories without improving your lean muscle mass through resistance training can cause a steady fall in your metabolism. The key to losing weight is to balance calories in with calories out and to make exercise a regular part of your life. Studies conducted on the benefits of exercise over the past 10 years have proven that exercise is vital to weight loss and improvements in overall health.
Make Time not Excuses
What are you doing for the next 15 minutes? Time is your most precious commodity so you should find ways to maintain your health without having to dedicate too much of your time to exercise. Most of us know that exercise is good for us, but most of us can’t seem to find time to exercise. Research conducted on physical activity over 20 years ago taught us that exercise had to be continuous and divided into 30-minute blocks in order to maximize the health benefits. Now, watching a 30-minute TV program seems like a short period of time, but most of us think it’s too much time to devote to exercise – even if we’re exercising while watching TV.
Be clever with your time and implement exercise whenever you can. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Go for walks during lunchtime. Spend time in the garden or take the whole family out to the park after dinner. Most people don’t think of gardening, walking and taking the stairs as exercise. Well, these simple activities, even though they’re not structured exercise, accumulate and help your body become stronger and fitter.
The Amish Offer Some Insight
The Amish community in Ontario, Canada are known for their simple way of life. Automobiles, electrical appliances and other modern conveniences are not part of their lifestyle. They have the lowest prevalence of obesity which is probably due to their high level of physical activity. A recent study in Medicine Science Sports and Exercise Journal (2004) reported the benefits of non-structured physical activity in the Amish community. The study was conducted on 98 Amish adults who were asked to wear a pedometer and to fill-out log sheets of physical activity for one week. Height, weight and other body measurements were taken at the beginning of the study. Results showed that on average, the men completed 18, 424 steps per day and the women completed 14, 196 steps per day. In terms of hours of physical activity, men reported 10 hours of vigorous physical activity per week, 42.8 hours of moderate physical activity per week and 12 hours of walking per week. Women reported 3.4 hours of vigorous physical activity per week, 39.2 hours of moderate physical activity per week and 5.7 hours of walking per week. The Amish population does not follow a conventional exercise program, but rely on lifestyle activities to meet their exercise needs. Analysis of the measurements taken showed that 25% of men and 27% of women were overweight and 0% of men and only 9% of women were considered obese. Compare these findings to 60% of North American adults who are overweight and 30% who are obese and you can see why physical activity is directly involved in weight management.
You don’t have to give up your car or TV, but to lose weight and keep it off, you must increase your physical activity level. Start with 10, 15 or 30 minutes a day and you’ll notice results in no time.
Take 10, 15 or 30
Many studies have shown that women can lose weight and improve their aerobic fitness by performing approximately 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at a moderate level in smaller 10- or 15-minute intervals throughout the day.
Where’s the Proof?
An article published in the Journal of American College of Nutrition (2001) investigated the effects of longer and shorted bouts of exercise on the fitness and weight loss of 48 overweight, non-exercising females. The study consisted of four groups: (group 1) the non-exercising control group; (group 2) the 30 minute continuous group; (group 3) the 30- minute daily accumulated exercise group (2 x 15 minute bouts) and (group 4) the 30- minute daily accumulated exercise group (3 x 10 minute bouts). Over the course of the 12-week aerobic training program, all the groups progressively worked up to 30 minutes and exercised at approximately 75% of their age-predicted maximum heart rate. The aerobic fitness improved in all three exercising groups whether exercise was completed at 30-minute blocks, 2 x 15 minute blocks or even 3 x 10 minute blocks. Weight loss was also surprisingly similar among all exercising groups which challenges the myth that the body burns fat for fuel only after 30 minutes of continuous exercise. All groups experienced a decrease in body weight, percentage of body fat and circumference measurements.
Putting it all Together
What it all comes down to is selecting an activity that fits into your lifestyle, finding time in your day to commit to the activity and slowly working your way to the next step.
If you are new to exercise, start with aerobic activities such as walking briskly, taking the stairs or cycling and slowly progress to resistance training exercises.
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