Exercise – Done Right – Can Help Control Obesity

Too many calories in, too few calories burned, can lead to weight gain. A number of factors influence how many calories people burn each day, including age, body size, and metabolism. But the most variable factor—and the most easily modified—is the amount of physical activity people achieve each day.

Keeping active helps people stay at a healthy weight or lose weight. It also lowers the risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and certain cancers. Exercise also reduces depression, anxiety and stress which may also motivate people to stick with their exercise regimens over time.

The more active people are, the more likely they are to keep their weight steady. The more sedentary, the more likely they are to gain weight over time. You don’t need to spend hours every day exercising but strive for 30 minutes of continual movement of some kind. Break it up into two 15-minute sessions if that’s what it takes to fit in your “daily 30.”

For individuals who are overweight or obese, getting the right amount of exercise, or exercising at all, can be challenging. Gyms can be intimidating since some machines can be difficult to use or cause knee or back problems.  Weight benches may be too narrow; seats on machines too small. Getting up or down from the floor is a workout all on its own. Supine exercises can cause breathing problems. Swimming is recommended for people with obesity, but wearing a bathing suit might be more than you can handle. Walking can be done on a treadmill or anywhere but it isn’t always comfortable for those with joint or knee problems.

Yet there are many good reasons to consider joining a gym. You’ll have immediate access to personal trainers who can help you get started the right way and instruct you on correct form and safety, even if you are significantly overweight. Check out the variety of classes offered until you find something that suits your fitness and comfort levels.  If the thought of joining a club makes you uncomfortable, consider your local YMCA or a community center, which may have a friendlier atmosphere. Recruit a friend into being your workout buddy, helping you feel less conspicuous and more motivated. And remember, everyone was a beginner at some point. You can be an inspiration to others who feel the same way.

Personal training at home or in a private studio is another option but not everyone can afford it. If this isn’t a viable option for you, consider online personal training. If you’re a beginner, keep in mind that you won’t have someone there monitoring you and watching your form. Or, start with a live personal trainer and move on to online training when you’re more comfortable with exercise. Recumbent bikes are great for people who need support while they exercise. A portable pedal exerciser can also provide a quality cardio workout for those who may have a lot of weight to lose..

If you’re overweight, you can still safely use an exercise ball. An exercise ball can help develop balance, stability and abdominal strength. Some of the basic exercises include sitting on the ball (try watching TV for a while and you’ll feel your body working a little harder than usual), marching, or balancing by lifting one foot off the floor, holding, and then lifting the other foot.

If walking is your exercise of choice, a pedometer can be very motivating and help you to become more active in your daily life. Combined with a balanced diet, having a pedometer can point you toward successful weight loss.

Exercise can be intimidating no matter what size you are, but starting with activities that feel good to you and your body is the best way to establish a consistent exercise routine. Whether it’s walking, biking, water aerobics or lifting weights, find something you can do and do it as much as you can. Before you start, check in with your doctor to make sure you exercise safely. Remember that starting a regular exercise effort, targeting six days a week, can help make big strides toward achieving your weight loss goal.

Dr. Adeyeri is a board-certified and fellowship-trained laparoscopic, bariatric and general surgeon and serves as medical director of the Institute for Weight Loss at Raritan Bay Medical Center. The Institute provides individualized medical and surgical solutions and support for individuals seeking weight loss, including nutrition and lifestyle counseling.  For more information or to attend a free bariatric surgery seminar, call 855.TIME.4.ME.

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