The Wonders of Exercise for Weight Maintenance

The Wonders of Exercise for Weight MaintenanceWhether it is easier to lose weight by eating less or exercising more is a frequent topic of debate amongst dieters. However, the reality is that a combination of less food and more activity is essential for long-term weight loss and health.

This advice comes as a surprise to many dieters who are aware it is easier to lose weight by cutting calories than exercising. You have to burn roughly 3500 extra calories to lose a pound of body fat. Walking a mile at a brisk pace burns about 100 calories, so to burn off a pound of fat, you would need to walk briskly for 35 miles. Clearly reducing your calorie intake by a few hundred calories a day is a much easier task but simply looking at calorie balance does not tell the whole story.

The Exercise Drug

Regular exercise produces an array of physiological benefits that go far beyond weight control. Because regular exercise can be as beneficial as many of the prescription drugs used to treat everything from depression to high cholesterol, the American College of Sports Medicine often describes exercise as a natural drug. Expanding this analogy, the ACSM urges people to recognize that to be effective you need to take repeated doses of most medications. The same is true of exercise. You need repeat doses of exercise every 24 to 36 hours in order to sustain the associated health benefits.

Regular exercise will help you manage your weight by:

Building muscle to burn more calories. Muscle tissue burns more calories than fat tissue does, even when you are resting.

Revving up your metabolism. No matter what type of diet you use to lose weight, your metabolic rate goes down as your body weight shrinks, meaning you will need fewer calories to maintain your weight after a diet. Activity burns calories in and of itself, and it helps increase your metabolic rate so you burn more calories even when at rest. Watching what you eat and maintaining an active lifestyle can help you maintain a lower body weight.

Exercise also:

  • Reduces stress
  • Strengthens bones
  • Strengthens the heart and lungs
  • Improves immune function
  • Enhances memory and overall brain function
  • Reduces depression
  • Fights age related mental decline
  • Reduces cholesterol, blood sugar, blood pressure and blood clot formation

And the good news is that all of these benefits associated with exercise pertain even if you are carrying extra pounds. This means you can get the benefits of exercising straight away regardless of your weight.  So next time you’re wondering what to do next, try a brisk walk – you’ll thank yourself for it.