Annual statistics kept by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicate that the number of individuals in the United States who are overweight and obese is increasing at an alarming rate. (1) New theories appear to arise almost every month about the reason that people have difficulty managing a healthy weight. These theories include suggestions of genetic abnormalities, a heavy bone structure, defected metabolism or viruses.
But the cold hard truth is that everyone can lose weight when they are in a negative calorie balance. This means that an individual must eat less calories than they burn or, said another way, they burn more calories than they eat.
Achieving a negative calorie burn can be accomplished using several different techniques. The most common way to achieve this is to eat less and exercise more. But, before undertaking any fitness program to achieve your weight-loss goals, you should consult with your primary care physicians to determine the level of exercise intensity and the length of time at which you can begin. Your primary care physician will make suggestions based on your current health, fitness level and any interactions that exercise may have with the medications you might be on and any underlying medical conditions.
As the body continues to age you will find that you require less food in order to maintain their body weight or conversely, require less food in order to gain weight. This particular state of affairs will happen to each and every one of us. Many individuals find that their basal metabolic rate changes drastically when they hit the age of 30, again at 40 and once again at 60.
Basal metabolic rate or BMR is the number of calories required to keep your body alive if you are laying in bed all day. It is the number of calories burned by digestion, muscle and breathing. This number can be estimated using your current height, weight, age and gender. There are other factors as well, but these four are the most commonly used in BMR calculators. The older you are the less calories needed to maintain your weight. (2)
Using a healthy weight loss plan to achieve a negative calorie balance requires both fitness and a healthy diet. Although the need for exercise and fitness has been well publicized to achieve a negative calorie burn and raise their metabolism for long-term weight loss, many people may not be aware of the equally important benefits to health and wellness.
By increasing the heart rate and respiratory rate through exercise, you are also able to increase the blood flow through your circulatory system, increase the efficiency of your heart, decrease your blood glucose and improve the function of your lungs. If you suffer from diabetes, you will find that regular exercise will help to maintain blood glucose levels and often times decrease the amount of insulin required. Through exercise you are able to decrease the long-term negative effects of using animal hormones in the body, while still incorporating a fitness routine into your daily life. (3)
Fitness also increases flexibility and strength so more people are able to perform their daily routine without any discomfort. It increases energy levels, self-esteem and self-awareness of the body. Many report that they feel muscles they’d forgotten they even had.
For these benefits to take effect it is important that the routine have both intensity and duration. The intensity of the fitness routine will equal how fast your heart rate goes and for how long. Are you sweating? Does routine make your muscles burn?
The duration describes just how long you’re doing the exercise routine.
Although both intensity and duration are important factors, if the initial level of fitness doesn’t allow the individual to exercise for more than 10 minutes then incorporating a 10 minute fitness plans three times throughout the day will give similar benefits to doing 30 minutes all at once. Then, as the fitness level improves, you will be able to maintain a greater intensity for a longer length of time.
The goal in any fitness program designed for weight loss is to do a moderate amount of exercise while maintaining that intensity level for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. The amount of time (duration) which is chosen for the exercise program will relate to an individual’s lifestyle, overall health, amount of weight required for loss and the motivation of the individual. The individual should also be working to add a greater intensity level that results in producing sweat for at least half the work out and slightly out of breath when completed.
If you are moderately to severely overweight only use low-impact aerobic activities to decrease the potential for damage to the joints. These types of activities include swimming, running in the pool, roller blading and walking. They are great exercises that continue to increase the heart rate while not damaging the joints.
Fitness weight-loss programs will improve the quality of your life, increase your motivation as you continue to see benefits and lose weight and will help you enjoy a new way of life. If you will incorporate a fitness program into your lifestyle, you will enjoy a lower risk of heart attack, stroke, peripheral vascular disease, heart disease, vascular disease, inflammatory disease and cancer. It is a gentle way of making changes to your lifestyle and should increase your success rate for your weight-loss program.
(1) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Overweight and Obesity
(2) The AMerican Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Factors Influencing Varieation in Basal Metabolic Rate Include Fat-Free Mass, Fat Mass, Age and Circulating Thyroxine but Not Sex, Circulating Leptin or Triiodothyronine
(3) Family Doctor: Diabetes and Exercise