Exercise is essential for every human being; it is not just a means to lose weight, even people who are not overweight need exercise. It helps you maintain your optimal weight, stay fit, and may even help ward off certain diseases – or at least delay their onset.
When you have too much fat in your body for a long period of time, you are said to be obese. Obesity is defined by the BMI or body Mass Index. This is a number obtained by dividing a person’s weight by the square of the person’s height. A person with BMI 25 to 30 kg/m² is considered overweight, and someone with BMI over 30 kg/m² is considered obese. Obesity is a huge problem in the US – about 40% of the total American population is obese.
Being obese can have numerous negative impacts on your health, like:
- You may feel tired, drowsy or sluggish
- Your cholesterol levels may increase; this is because excess fat gets stored in the blood vessels as it is not used by the body to release energy
- Type II diabetes – which in turn can cause loss of vision, nerve damage, heart problems, etc
- Your blood pressure may shoot up
- The chances of developing cardiovascular diseases is higher; this means your risk for stroke and heart disease (and eventually heart attacks) is much higher than that of a non-obese individual
- You may get more anxious or depressed in social situations
- Gallstones may form
- Sleep apnea, disturbed sleep
- Irregular menstruation and infertility
- Indigestion, bloating
- Kidney and liver dysfunction
Being overweight or obese need not always be due to sedentary lifestyle, though it is one of the biggest contributing factors. Genetics, medications, diet, certain hormonal disorders, and some types of medications can lead to an individual being obese.
Weight control cannot be achieved by any single method; rather, it is the combination of a few factors – diet control and exercise, and sometimes, medications.
Exercise and diet control are both equally important; because if you work out regularly but have absolutely no control over your food intake, you may undo all the good work.
Here is how exercise helps:
- When you do a cardio workout – like walking, swimming, running or cycling, your body burns fat to provide energy for the activity.
- Exercising helps to improve your metabolism – where the body burns calories quicker, and even round the clock; yes, when you regularly work out, you reach a level of fitness whereby you can burn calories even when at rest.
- Exercising also makes the body release endorphins – known as the mood elevating chemical – and may help in relieving anxiety and depression
- Other types of exercise help to build your muscles, improve stamina and increase strength – all of which is required to maintain optimal health and fitness.
If you have never had an exercise regimen till now, we recommend that you start small. Start with simple exercises like brisk walking, cycling, or swimming for 20-30 minutes at least 3 times a week. Work slowly and comfortably in the beginning stages; mix up exercise routines or types to keep things interesting. For example, walk one day, swim another day, and go cycling the third day. In between, do some strength training – and don’t forget to do your stretches to prevent injury to your muscles and keep them flexible.
Gradually increase the time, and try to do it every day, and switch to jogging instead of walking. To be on the safe side, consult your physician to make a workout schedule or to learn what kind of exercises you can do and what you should avoid, depending on your specific health requirements.
Join a gym, and follow instructions of the trainer; here you will be able to target specific muscle groups to increase their strength; you can also improve your fitness by using the treadmill or other equipment. Lifting weights also helps you burn calories – how much you need to lift is something you should discuss with the trainer.
To get the maximum benefit from your workout, calculate your target heart rate to see how hard you’re working. The formula is: 220-(your age). Let’s suppose that number is x. 60 to 80% of x is your target heart rate. Of course, it’s best you seek expert help from your doctor as well as a trainer to set the appropriate intensity levels; this is also what you need to do if you have diabetes, heart disease or any injury, or have had surgery recently.
When you work out regularly and keep the weight off, you may be able to keep all the ‘lifestyle diseases’ at bay. Of course, there are other reasons for developing those diseases, like genetic factors, medications, viral infections, inherited conditions, some congenital defects, and so on. But with a combination of the right diet and exercise, you can certainly delay the onset of these health conditions, and enjoy a fuller, better quality, and longer life.
If you’d like to consult our physician or dietician on nutrition and weight loss, schedule an appointment now!
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Thank you for reading!