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Regular exercise is an important part of effective weight loss and weight maintenance. It helps to control your weight by using excess calories that otherwise get stored in the body as fat. The key to successful weight control and improved overall health


Balancing the number of calories that you burn up through exercise and physical work-out with the calories you consume from whatever you eat can help you achieve the desired weight.

The decision to keep fit requires a lifelong commitment of time and effort. Exercising and eating right must become things that you do without question, like bathing and brushing your teeth. Unless you are convinced of the benefits, you will not succeed.

Health benefits of physical work-out

The decision to keep fit requires a lifelong commitment of time and effort. Exercising and eating right must become things that you do without question. The combination of these two is known to be the most efficient and healthful way to control your weight. Regular physical activity can also reduce the risk for several diseases and improve your overall quality of life. The risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, and many other health problems is reduced with regular physical activity. Conditions, such as hypertension and type 2 diabetes, have a direct link to a sedentary lifestyle.

Regular exercise also improves resistance to infections, joint flexibility, emotional well-being, energy and stress levels, and digestion. Continued regular exercise helps you move easier, feel stronger, have better posture, and experience less chronic pain.

Exercise options for weight loss

It does not matter what type of physical activity you perform. Just be more active in general and simple weight loss exercises such as climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator, sitting up instead of lying down as well as showing some excitement and enthusiasm instead of boredom, moving around instead of sitting still can help.

The key to starting and sticking to a fitness regimen is choosing that activities that you enjoy and look most forward to. Long-term success also requires planning; the exercise habit doesn't form by accident. Sports, planned exercise, household chores, yard work, or work-related tasks all are beneficial ways of physical exercise. It is always better to talk to your doctor and a certified athletic trainer to determine the best type of exercise program for yourself. 

Calories burnt during exercise

Calories burnt during exercise are affected by body weight, intensity of workout, conditioning level and metabolism. Calories burnt per hour during exercise and other activities are listed below for body weights of 130, 155 and 190 pounds. This is an approximate measure of the calories burnt because different people have different rates of metabolism.
Activity (1 hour) 130lbs 155lbs 190lbs
Aerobics, general 354 422 518
Badminton, social, general 413 493 604
Bicycling, 10-11.9mph, moderate effort 472 563 690
Cooking or food preparation  148 176 216
Weight lifting, light or moderate effort 177 211 259

 Fat needs oxygen to burn completely so in order to burn fat during an exercise, you need to move slowly and smoothly. This enables muscle cells to be supplied with enough oxygen to continue with its aerobic capacity and utilize fat as the main energy source. Anaerobic exercise on the other hand requires moving at an increased pace or with greater effort. Exercising this way burns more calories but results in a greater demand for oxygen which cannot be delivered in sufficient quantities to allow cells to continue burning fat. This results in a switch to burning mainly carbohydrates as they burn quickly and does not require oxygen.

Aerobic exercises include aerobic classes that can be dancing to music or step dancing, treadmills, exercise bicycles, ski machines, air gliders, jogging, and sports such as racquetball and handball. Examples of anaerobic exercises include weight lifting, machines that offer resistance and dumbbells. Anaerobic exercises use resistance so that you build muscle and bone as an added benefit. Aerobic exercise has more of an impact on the cardiovascular and circulatory system. Combining the two can give the greatest health benefits.

Eating for exercise

Both eating before and after exercise are important for performance, fitness, and health. But how to eat for exercise is dependent on a lot of factors such as time period for which you exercise, the type of exercise that you do, the kind of experience that you get from exercise, and the health factors that could play a role in how you process food.

1. Food before exercise

  • Make sure that you are well hydrated before exercise. Drink plenty of fluids - at least 2 cups of water about 2 hours before exercise and another 2 cups within 20 minutes of exercise.
  • Prefer not to exercise when the body is depleted of nutrients e.g. before breakfast. Performing aerobic exercise when hungry does not increase the amount of fat that gets burnt rather it may cause loss of protein as fuel. Also, it reduces blood sugar levels that can make you feel weak, faint or tired, and your mental abilities may be affected as well, making you slower to react.
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet incorporating a variety of wholesome foods all through the day. Maintaining healthy nutrition is important for exercise because your muscles rely heavily on the foods, primarily the carbohydrates that you consume daily.
  • Allow enough time to digest. It is wise to not to start exercise immediately after eating, because the body shifts fluid away from muscles and into the gastrointestinal tract during digestion. Allow 3 - 4 hours for a big meal to digest, 2 - 3 hours for a small meal, and an hour or less for a small snack, depending on your body. Most people can eat snacks right before and during exercise. The key is how you feel and do what works best for you.
  • Consuming sweets immediately before exercise does not provide a quick burst of energy, but may cause a rise in insulin followed by hypoglycemia resulting in fatigue.
  • Eating too much high-fat and high-protein foods (such as bacon or a greasy cheeseburger) as well as high fiber food just before a workout can trigger gastrointestinal problems.

2. Food during exercise

  • Drink plenty of water during exercise. It does not cause any upset stomach or cramps; whereas restricting water during exercise may cause severe dehydration and limit performance. So drink 1/2 cup of water every 10-15 minutes. Ideally, exercisers should consume adequate fluids during activity so that body weight remains relatively unchanged before and after exercise.
  • Drink water, juice, or carbohydrate rich sports drinks to replace what you sweat out. For people who exercise up to an hour in moderate environmental conditions, the most appropriate fluid to drink is cool water. However, persons who exercise strenuously for more than an hour or exercise in extreme environmental conditions may require a sports beverage containing carbohydrates and electrolytes.
  • Don’t consume food during exercise, because the body shifts fluid away from muscles and into the gastrointestinal tract for digestion.

3. Food after exercise

  • Weigh yourself immediately before and after exercise. If you notice a fall, the difference is from water loss. Consume 2 cups of water for every pound of body weight lost during exercise.
  • Don’t consume a heavy meal in the first hour after exercise. Enjoy a snack or light meal about 30 minutes after exercise. The ideal post-exercise snack is light and nutritious, containing mainly carbohydrates and protein in a ratio of about 2:1. Examples such as 1 cup of fruit juice with protein powder, 1 cup of 1% milk, fat-free ice cream, or nonfat yogurt, 1 apple with 1 inch cube of low-fat cheese and 2 slices of whole wheat bread with 2 thin slices of turkey, optional mustard.
  • For best results from exercise, be sure to consume a healthy, well-balanced diet with each meal consisting of a portion of protein and complex carbohydrates as well as fats such as the Omega 3 fats found in fish, which are essential to our diet.