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SJ News Online - St. John, KS
  • Dr. Laura Q. Rogers: Why exercise when losing weight?

  • The key component to weight management is caloric balance. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Exercise helps you burn more calories while you are trying to lose weight.

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  • The key component to weight management is caloric balance. If you eat more calories than you burn, you will gain weight. If you eat fewer calories than you burn, you will lose weight. Exercise helps you burn more calories while you are trying to lose weight.
    Exercise boosts the number of calories your body burns for up to 24 hours, even while resting. By exercising while on a weight-loss diet, you will be able to retain muscle mass, which helps your body burn more calories and improve your physical functioning while losing fat. It also can help you sleep better; disturbed sleep can interfere with your ability to lose weight.
    Once the weight is lost, individuals who continue to exercise are able to keep it off better than those who do not exercise. Exercise redistributes the fat away from the abdomen. If the fat is in your abdominal cavity, it increases your health risk for diabetes and heart disease.
    How much exercise do I need?
    You need to determine your daily caloric needs at rest –– the number of calories you are burning at rest, based on your current weight, age and height. A free online calculator on your smartphone or computer, such as caloriesperhour.com/index_burn.php, can help you do this.
    Then, factor in the amount of physical activity you are doing during your usual daily activities. If you have a desk job, you are not going to burn any more calories than when you are at rest. However, a construction worker burns more calories on the job. Brisk walking burns about 300 calories an hour, and jogging burns 675 calories an hour.
    Next, determine the number of calories you are actually eating. This requires keeping a diet record by writing down everything you eat and drink, including portion sizes. Read food labels to identify how many calories are in various foods. You can also download a free smartphone app to help you keep track of your diet.
    Working out a weight-loss plan
    Decide how much weight you want to lose. If you need 2,200 calories a day, and you want to lose a half pound per week, you need to do some exercise, such as brisk walking, for nearly an hour per day until you have achieved the desired weight loss. If you want to lose more weight, you need to do more exercise to burn a greater amount of calories.
    Losing a pound a week requires eating 500 fewer calories per day than what you are burning. Extreme reductions in calories may cause your body to burn fewer calories, so gradual weight loss (i.e. 1/2 to 2 pounds per week) is optimal. The key is to combine diet and exercise. The online calculator can show you how long it will take to realize your goal.
    Page 2 of 2 - Although any amount of exercise is better than none, the most effective goal for weight loss and redistributing fat away from the abdominal area of the body is to exercise at least 250 minutes per week (or 38 minutes per day). Wearing a pedometer and aiming for 10,000 steps a day also helps with losing weight and reducing abdominal fat.
    Be safe while exercising
    Wearing proper shoes for the activity you are doing is an important first step in exercise safety. If you have excessive weight or have diseases, such as osteoarthritis or osteoporosis, you must be careful and may want to engage in only low-impact activities. Always wear loose-fitting clothing that doesn't bind or constrict. Also, stay hydrated by drinking water as needed.
    Do I need any special tools?
    No tools are required if you choose simple exercises, such as walking, which is considered one of the best ways to exercise. Some individuals choose exercise that requires equipment, such as a stationary bicycle or treadmill. It is important to use the appropriate equipment for your activity and make sure it is in good working order.
    Making an exercise plan
    A well-thought-out exercise plan will help you stay on target for meeting your goals. After deciding how much you want to lose and your calorie adjustments, you need to decide the type of exercise you will do.
    Choose exercise that is safe and enjoyable. Will it be of moderate or vigorous intensity? Be sure to check with your physician if you have health risks or symptoms. How much time can you devote to exercise?
    Think about adding some variation to your exercise routine so you do not get side-tracked by bad weather, boredom or broken equipment. Having an exercise partner for social support is helpful to some people. Also, keep exercise records.
    Start slowly and gradually to avoid injury. As you become stronger and more flexible you can work your way up to longer duration and more repetitions.
    If your chosen exercise is walking, it is recommended that you wear a pedometer for a week and record how many steps you did per day. Then calculate a daily average. Increase about 500 steps per day every two weeks and maintain a record of daily steps, working up to 10,000 steps per day.
    Work exercise into your daily routine, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk or bike to your destination, exercise at lunch with co-workers, take a 10-minute break to stretch or take a 10-minute walk and reduce screen time.
    Dr. Laura Q. Rogers is professor of internal medicine at Southern Illinois University School of Medicine.
    -- Be Healthy Springfield (Ill.)
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