The Importance of Physical Activity for Weight Management

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Being physically active is extremely important in trying to manage our weight.

When we eat, we eat calories. When we're active, we burn calories. The more active we are, the more calories our bodies burn -- even when we're not exercising.

But how do you get started? You don't have to join a health club or gym. We can add exercise and burn more calories by simply being more active in our daily lives.

You'd be surprised at how much you can increase your activity level by doing things a little differently around the house: washing the dishes instead of using the dishwasher, using a push mower instead of a riding mower, or washing the car yourself instead of going to the car wash.

"From the time I get up, to the time I lay back down, I'm just steady moving around. I'll vacuum. I'll do the laundry or something."

There are other ways to increase your activity throughout the day. Take the stairs, instead of the elevator, for example.

"If you park the car far away from the store, from the entrance of the store, that walk, you know, is good for you."

Take a walk during your lunch break at work. Garden, walk the dog, or play outside.

Eventually, to lose weight, your goal should be to exercise about 30 to 90 minutes a day, most days of the week.

There are three main types of exercise: aerobic exercise to strengthen your heart, strength training to build muscle strength, and stretching to improve flexibility. Doing a bit of each type of exercise will improve your overall fitness, and help you lose or maintain your weight.

Don't try to go from not being active to hour-long workouts out all at once. That's not necessary, and it's not healthy for you. Gradually increase the intensity and duration of your exercise as you get in better shape.

Talk to your healthcare provider about safe ways to be more active. He or she can help you to select which types of exercise are best for you, how to go about reaching your exercise goals, and discuss what steps you'll need to take in order to help prevent injury.

"I started walking. Just started walking a little here and there, up the streets a little ways, as far as I could go. Didn't push myself."

Schedule your exercise time the way you would a business appointment, and then keep the appointment.

Take one step at a time. Make it fun and relaxing. Arrange to exercise with friends if you like, or join in an exercise group. There are plenty of them. Remember; choose an exercise you enjoy so you'll stick with it.

If you like dancing or racket sports, do them. Try different exercise activities to avoid boredom.

Exercise regularly. You'll be on your way to controlling your weight, and to better health.

Animation Copyright © Milner-Fenwick

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