Posts Tagged ‘fitness’

Exercise: A Sometimes Forgotten Key to Weight Management

Exercise Fitness Weight LossIn today’s market of many different diet plans, it is easy to forget about the role of exercise in managing one’s weight. After all, counting the calories used up during an hour on the treadmill or at the gym can be a bit depressing when one realizes that those calories amount to only one-seventh of a pound and are completely reversed if one eats a nice piece of pie as a reward for doing all that exercising. Indeed, one only burns about one M&M candy’s worth of calories in 50 yards of walking. This has led some to suggest that exercise is not that important in weight management and that people should focus their attention on eating less and not worry too much about exercise.

However, there are other data that would argue against ignoring exercise as an important component of weight control. If one thinks historically about the nearly tripling of our nation’s obesity rate in the last generation or two, much of that has happened with reduced exercise. As we have moved away from an agrarian economy to one based on information, more and more people have desk jobs and there is no need for almost anyone to burn many calories to survive. Cities in which people walk a lot, such as New York, have a significantly lower obesity rate than the nation as a whole, and the state with the lowest obesity rate is Colorado, which is famous for outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing.

If one takes a long-term view, there is good reason to expect that exercise can help a lot with weight, aside from its many benefits for general health. After all, if you weigh 175 pounds, increasing walking by a half-hour a day at a moderate pace translates into an extra weight loss of about 25 pounds per year, and even a 10-minute daily increase is worth about 8 additional pounds off per year. It is much more important to develop an exercise/activity plan you can stick with that is very feasible and moderate than to “go like crazy” once in awhile to lose as much weight as possible. Just as in the famous fairy tale, the tortoise, known for persistence and continuous plodding ahead, beats the hare, known for jump starts and sprinting ahead at an unsustainable pace.

Given that maintenance of exercise is a key, we all might keep in mind some factors that help us stick with a behavior:

  1. Make it fun. We are much more likely to walk or do anything else if we enjoy it. Many people will walk a considerable distance with a friend, for example, while considering walking on a treadmill to be drudgery, particularly if there is not something to watch while walking, such as a movie or television show.
  2. Make it regular and structured. If we get ourselves into a routine, it often can be maintained. Consider setting regular times to exercise, whether they be gym visits, walking during the lunch hour, or arrangements with friends to exercise together.
  3. Make exercise feasible and reasonable, even if it seems to be a small increase. Make sure you exercise within your medical limitations.
  4. Think of things you can do on a daily basis to increase your exercise. Examples might be to park further away from stores, have a policy to use the second-closest rest room, take stairs at work rather than the elevator, and/or walk while talking on the phone.
  5. Use the three principles of behavior change to help you maintain exercise. Keep track of what you are doing, set goals regularly, and set up a support system which will cheer you on and encourage you to continue.

Do you have other tips? Share them with me and our readers in the comments below!

Author: Stanley L. Chapman, PhD – Emory Bariatric Center

Makeover your Exercise Routine for Maximum Fat Loss

Meagan Mohammadione, RD/LD Emory Bariatric CenterIt is well known that when you reduce your calorie intake, you will lose even more weight if you exercise too.  More exercise is always better than some and some is better than none at all.  But what does more mean?  How much do we really need to exercise to lose weight and improve our health?  A 2009 study found that people who did 225-420 minutes a week of moderately vigorous exercise lost the greatest amount of weight.  This same study also found that exercise is the best way to keep weight off that you have already lost.  People who were able to maintain their weight loss, exercised for 150-250 minutes a week.

So we now know how much time to devote to exercise, but what kind of exercise should we do?  The short answer is any exercise that you enjoy so that you keep doing it.  For the long answer, let’s take a look at this Ultimate Metabolic and Calorie Burning Makeover, adapted from a recent lecture by exercise expert, Len Kravitz, PhD.

Importance of Warming-Up Before Working Out

Warming up for 5-10 minutes before your workout increases blood flow to your muscles for better performance.  It also gets your carbohydrate and fat enzymes going.  Translation: you will burn more calories and fat during your workout if you warm up first!

Cardiovascular Calorie Burn

After your warm-up, increase the intensity by 10-15 percent (this can mean going faster, increasing incline, etc.) and continue for 4 minutes.  Increase your intensity again by 10-15 percent for 4 minutes.  Continue this pattern until you have reached your moderately vigorous intensity level.  Maintain this for as long as you feel comfortable.  Then decrease the intensity by 10-15 percent for 4 minutes, and again another decrease for 4 minutes until you reach your original intensity level.

Weight Training Burns Fat!

It was once thought that weight training was only good for strengthening and building muscle.  Turns out we also burn fat during weight training and up to 2 hours after our workout is finished!  Try this regimen: Do 3 sets of 10 repetitions (lifts) at 85% of the maximum amount of weight you can lift.  Rest for only 90 second between sets.

References:

Donnelly, JE. Appropriate physical activity intervention strategies for weight loss and prevention of weight regain in adults. J Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2009, vol. 41, 459-469.

Herrera, L and Kravitz, L. Yes! You do burn fat during resistance exercise. IDEA Fitness J. 2009, vol. 6, 17-19.

What Roles does Watching TV Play in Weight Gain?

Watching TV Cause Weight GainBeware of too much television viewing!  Published in the journal Obesity, a 2006 study by Raynor and colleagues examined the relationship between weight and viewing of television, VCRs, and/or DVDs.  Their subjects included 1422 subjects who had just joined the National Weight Control Registry.  In order to join the Registry, each subject had to have reported losing at least 30 pounds and maintaining that weight loss for at least a year.  One interesting fact emerged right away from information gleaned from these subjects:  they had not been frequent television watchers at the time they joined the Registry.  Only 12.5% reported watching television for three hours per day or more, and 38.5% reported doing so for less than 10 hours per week, versus an average television watching time of 28 hours per week for the American public at large.  One wonders if the low television viewing may have contributed to the subjects’ losing enough weight to qualify for joining the Registry.

The authors found that the subjects who watched the most television gained significantly more weight back in the year after joining the Registry than those who watched the least.  In addition, those who increased their television watching during the succeeding year gained more than those who did not, particularly if they also reduced their level of physical activity.  Specifically, subjects who increased television watching while decreasing physical activity averaged gaining back 9.0 pounds during the year, versus an average weight gain of 2.2 pounds for those who increased physical activity and reduced television watching.

These results are not too surprising.  After all, the great increase in the incidence of obesity in the last 20-30 years has been associated in time with a greatly increased role of television, VCRs/DVDs, and computers in the daily lives of most Americans.  We have become a largely sedentary culture, with so many means of entertainment for which we primarily sit and do not move.

This study did not provide a definitive answer for why television watching is associated with weight regain.  Certainly, low physical activity is one factor, but when level of physical activity was held constant, subjects who watched a lot of television or increased their watching still gained more weight over the course of the year than those who did not.  Snacking during watching television may be a culprit; many people who gain weight report a tendency to snack a lot, particularly with high-calorie and high-fat food and at night.  If people get used to eating in front of the television, the mere act of turning it on may become a learned cue for desiring and eating food.

These results challenge all of us to consider how watching television (or, for that matter, engaging in other sedentary entertainment such as using the computer) might affect our own ability to maintain or extend weight loss in the long-term.  Do such activities take us away from the physical exercise needed for success?  Has the television or the computer become a conditioned cue for overeating? If so, how can we combat these effects?

The best ways to prevent weight gain associated with sedentary entertainment vary from person to person, but several ideas may be helpful.  One might be to combine television watching with exercise, perhaps with a treadmill or stationary bicycle.  Another might be to arrange regular exercise on a schedule, or to make sedentary entertainment contingent on completing a certain amount of exercise each day.  You might also consider how to reduce calorie intake in front of the television or computer, perhaps by making a rule to eat only at the table, or to eat only prepared low-calorie snacks.  Using the three behavioral principles of self-monitoring, goal-setting, and support may also be helpful.  You are likely to benefit from keeping track of what you eat in front of the television or computer, setting specific and realistic goals for such eating, and/or enlisting the help of your support system to encourage you while you work on behavioral change.

Related Resources:

Reference:  Raynor, DA, Phelan, S, Hill, JO, & Wing, RR.  Television viewing and long-term weight maintenance results from the National Weight Control Registry.  Obesity, 2006, vol. 14, 1816-1824.

Helping You Overcome the Exercise Shoulda, Coulda, Wouldas

Exercise excusesReasons we are not Exercising and Strategies to Overcome all of the Excuses

Weight loss is not an easy task to accomplish.  Often times it involves a lifestyle change in which we are forced to change habits we have developed over a lifetime. Many of us have trouble incorporating physical activity into our daily routines and come up with a number of excuses as to why we are not going to do it.  It is time to combat these excuses with pre-contemplated strategies so these excuses cannot hold us back.

With that said, these are the top 5 excuses we hear most often for not exercising and tips to help you overcome excuses:

1) I’m Too Tired

  • Wake up 30 minutes early and work out.  It will increase your energy for the rest the day!
  • Choose to do an activity you enjoy instead of “working out.” Garden in the spring or ice-skate in the winter to burn away the calories.
  • Start small; exercise will increase your energy.  Try going on a 5-minute walk and see how you can progress each day!

2) I Don’t Have Time

  • Utilize your lunch break.  Walk outside, or try going up and down the stairs for a challenge!
  • While watching your favorite TV show, do crunches or push-ups during the commercials!
  • Schedule time to exercise in your calendar, phone, etc the same as you would for a meeting or your child’s play date.

3) I’m Too Sore from My Last Work Out

  • Exercise a different part of your body.  If your legs hurt from walking, focus on your upper body.
  • Stretch!  This can help to improve flexibility and reduce the tension in your muscles.

4) Exercise is Boring

  • Experiment! Try swimming or Zumba — find something you enjoy!
  • Bring a book, magazine, or iPod to entertain you while you exercise.
  • Bring a friend!  Ask someone to join you to chat and the time will fly by.

5) I Hate to Sweat

  • Exercise in the pool! Join a water aerobics class or just kick your feet while holding onto the side of the pool.
  • Walk indoors! Ladies try a walk around the mall, and men try a sporting good store to workout and cool off.
  • Try resistance exercises.  Not all exercise makes you sweat.  Try this website for some great strength training suggestions!

So now it is time to stop with all of the excuses, and get moving.  Incorporate one or all of these strategies into your workout routine to keep you focused and motivated on your long-term goals.  It is not always easy, but when you feel the excuses escape your lips, recall these strategies to keep active!

Looking for even more ways to incorporate effective weight management techniques into your daily life? Tomorrow, Meagan Mohammadione, Registered Dietitian from the Emory Bariatric Center, is hosting a free web chat to discuss healthy recipe modification tips to boost the nutrition of your Thanksgiving menu, while lessening the guilt! There’s still time to sign up and join her!