Getting Active to Lose Weight
Physical activity is an essential part of keeping your body and mind healthy. In addition to helping you maintain a healthy weight, physical activity can:
- Improve your mood. Activity boosts levels of brain chemicals called endorphins that have an influence on our mood. By staying physically active, you can maintain a more positive emotional state, as well as improve your confidence and body image.
- Prevent disease. Activity improves cardiovascular function, bone density and cholesterol levels. Staying physically active can reduce your risk of many different health problems such as stroke, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis and some forms of cancer.
- Increase energy levels. Activity makes the cardiovascular system more efficient and helps to deliver more oxygen and nutrients to tissues, giving you more energy for every task.
- Improve sleep. Activity can help you fall asleep faster and experience deeper sleep, further contributing to energy levels, mood and overall health.
Making an effort to become more physically active at every opportunity will help you safeguard your health, and if you’re trying to lose weight, it can help you keep more weight off for longer.
The ideal amount and type of activity you choose to do will depend on your personal needs and tastes. However, to become more active in a way that is as healthy as possible, it is best to:
Go at Your Own Pace
Each person has his or her own ideal starting point. When you make the decision to become more active, begin at a pace you feel comfortable with and work your way up to bigger challenges.
Improving your fitness is like building a house. You need to lay the foundation first and gradually construct it, brick by brick. For most people, it’s best to start with simple activities, like walking for 30 minutes each day, instead of immediately diving into something strenuous, like training to run a marathon.
Choose Activities Wisely
There are many different kinds of activity. When you’re considering which activities to do, it’s best to strike a balance between the four categories of exercise:
Also known as aerobic activity, endurance activity boosts your heart rate and breathing, which helps to keep your heart, lungs and circulatory system healthy.
Endurance activities can include:
- Competitive sports like tennis and basketball
Also known as resistance training, strength exercises improve your muscle strength by flexing them against the resistance of weights, tools and your own body. Building more muscle improves your metabolism, which can be especially useful for weight loss.
Strength activities can include:
- Bodyweight exercises like push-ups
- Use of resistance bands, kettlebells and handgrips
As the name suggests, balance activities improve your ability to maintain your stability. This can prevent falls, which often lead to bone fractures in older adults, and improve your everyday mobility.
Balance activities can include:
- Tai Chi
- Anything that requires you to stand on one foot or walk heel-to-toe
Flexibility exercises stretch the muscles to improve your range of motion, both in exercise and your everyday life.
Flexibility activities can include:
Of course, your choice will also depend on the activities you enjoy. By thinking beyond the typical workouts and focusing on activities that are truly fun and exciting for you, it will be easier to stay motivated, exercise consistently and experience the pleasure that exercise can provide.
Develop an Active Lifestyle
Because inactivity often becomes an ingrained part of our lifestyles, it can at first be difficult to make physical activity habitual. However, by focusing on integrating activity into your life, it can become a natural part of your daily routine. To develop an active lifestyle, it helps to:
- Increase incidental activity. Becoming more active in every aspect of your life can improve your fitness with more than just a normal workout routine. Incidental activity can amount to doing chores like yard work and making an effort to avoid shortcuts like elevators.
- Schedule your workouts. Determining the best time for exercise and dedicating that time to activity every day will help you make physical activity a consistent habit.
Becoming more physically active will help you keep weight off, but it can also have a strong, positive influence on your overall health and happiness.