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It is estimated that about 70% of adult Americans are either overweight or obese. With close to 80 million Americans being obese, health experts are concerned about the consequences this epidemic may bring, including an increase in the incidence of chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and cancer.

Healthcare providers emphasize that the best way to lose a significant amount of weight is to combine a low-calorie diet with increased physical activity.

Reducing calorie intake and burning fat through exercise are the healthiest ways of losing weight and maintaining weight loss. Although most people emphasize the importance of eating a low-fat, low calorie, high protein diet, high fiber diet to lose weight, many people are not able to sustain the weight loss and easily gain back excess pounds because of lack of physical activity.

How Much Physical Activity Do You Need to Lose Weight?

Ordinarily, one needs to accumulate about 150 minutes a week doing moderate-intensity physical activity to maintain a healthy weight or to prevent weight gain. However, obese or overweight adults need to do much more (250 minutes per week of moderate to vigorous exercise) to lose a significant amount of weight. These recommendations are based on the latest recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine, stating that you need to do at least 50 minutes of work-outs per day, five days a week, to achieve your goals. These recommendations are in line with the guidelines published by the HHS (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services).

The types of exercise that are classified as moderate intensity include those that make your breathing and heart rate faster, but still allow you to speak comfortably with another person. Examples include biking, brisk walking, playing with children, shoveling snow, raking, or mowing the lawn.

Exercises that are of vigorous intensity make your breathing and heart rate much faster, which make carrying a conversation a bit difficult. These include running or jogging, swimming laps, jumping rope, and playing competitive sports such as football or soccer.

Experts also recommend combining aerobic exercises with strength training exercises to increase muscle mass, reduce fat, and reduce health risks such as heart disease. One should aim for an initial 10% weight loss, which can lead to significant reductions in health risks. If successful, you can continue attempting to lose more weight. Experts recommend aiming to lose one to two pounds per week over six months.

These guidelines may seem difficult at first, especially if you are used to a sedentary or inactive lifestyle. However, you can always start by doing a few minutes at a time, like doing 10-minute walks, and 10-minute chores, such as raking the lawn. You can work your way up to more and more minutes per day, then doing more vigorous exercises such as jumping rope. The important thing is to stay off the couch and lead a more active lifestyle.

It is also advisable to consult your doctor before starting an exercise regimen to find out if you can tolerate vigorous exercises, especially if you have any existing medical condition.

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