Monday, June 9, 2008

Information on Weight Loss, Exercise, and You

Feel like you are penned up? Human beings are built for only two basic things: reproduction and fighting. Well, now that we have the basics of biology out of the way, what in the world does that have to do with weight loss? Simple. We were supposed to be using our bodies to work hard, gather food, run like the wind, and then settle down for a rest before doing it all over again. In todays' world, we start being sedentary at the breakfast table, run to the car just to put the carseat in, migrate slowly to the office chair, and slump home and fall in bed whining about being exhausted.

Today, exercise must be sought out, unlike a mere generation ago when the average American man was a blue collar worker who put in long strenuous hours in a mill or on a farm.

Health experts today admit that the obesity crisis (and yes it is a crisis) in America is the result of several factors. Not only do we eat too much, but we eat "fast" prepared foods instead of cooking from scratch. Combine that with a lack of exercise and there you have fat generation raising the next fatter generation. So how do we change things? Unfortunately, one or two laps around the school running track will not counteract the three donuts a day at work. Exercise, if increased on a daily basis, combined with no diet changes may help with fast weight loss. This, however, is not sustainable.

What has to happen to affect permanent change is a weight loss plan that evolves into a lifestyle plan. These are some recommendations for your plan to help you sustain an exercise program.

1. Get quality sleep.

Surprise! You didn't expect that to be first on the list! Make sure that you get adequate sleep, meaning go to bed at a reasonable hour and get up at a reasonable hour. Over sleeping and under sleeping disrupt natural biorhythms. Good sleep habits are conducive to exercise, experts point out. If you feel worn out during the day due to lack of sleep, you are less likely to get much physical activity during the day. In addition, there is evidence that people who are tired tend to eat more, using food as a substance for the rest they need.

2. Walk the walk.

This is probably the easiest exercise program of all. In fact, it may be all you ever have to do, according to some professional advice of some health experts. It is a great way to start if you are morbidly obese, but keep in mind to really lose weight you have to sweat! Just strolling down the sidewalk really won't help much. Gradually build up to at least 30 minutes of brisk walking five times a week. Brisk walks themselves have health and psychological benefits that are well worth the while.

3. Or...Walk the treadmill.

When the weather is bad, you might not feel like going outdoors. Great excuse not to exercise, right? But if you have a treadmill with a TV in front of it, you can catch up on your favorite shows while you are doing your daily good turn for your weight-maintenance plan.Most of us watch television anyway, and indoor exercise equipment enables anyone to turn a sedentary activity into a healthy activity.

4. Seize the time.

Excuses aside, lack of time is certainly a limiting factor in most lifestyles. That is why health experts suggest a basic guideline for incorporating exercise into your schedule. Get as much exercise as you can that feels good without letting it interfere with your work or family life. If you need to, remind yourself that you are preventing many health problems when you prevent weight gain; and keeping your health is a gift to your family as well as yourself.

Mary K. Betz, MS RPA-C is a practicing Physician Assistant. For more information visit


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