Weight Loss Through Activity and Exercise

Staying active and eating fewer calories will help you lose weight and keep the weight off over time.

Physical activity also will benefit you in other ways. It will:

  • Lower the risk of heart disease, diabetes, and certain cancers, such as breast, uterus, and colon.
  • Strengthen your lungs and help them to work better
  • Strengthen your muscles and keep your joints in good condition
  • Slow bone loss and the onset of osteoporosis.
  • Give you more energy
  • Help you to relax and cope better with stress
  • Allow you to fall asleep more quickly and sleep more soundly
  • Give you an enjoyable way to share time with friends and family

In general, adults should follow these guidelines in relation to physical activity.

  • For overall health and to lower the risk of disease, aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity most days of the week.
  • To help manage body weight and prevent gradual weight gain, aim for 60 minutes of moderate-to-vigorous intensity physical activity most days of the week.
  • To maintain weight loss, aim for at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity.

In general, children and teens should aim for at least 60 minutes of physical activity on most, if not all, days of the week.

Many people lead inactive lives and may not be motivated to do more physical activity. Some people may need help and supervision when they start a physical activity program to avoid injury.

If you are overweight or obese, or if you haven't been active in the past, start physical activity slowly and build up the intensity a little at a time. When starting out, one way to be active is to do more "everyday" activities such as taking the stairs instead of the elevator and doing household chores and yard work. The next step is to start walking, biking, or swimming at a slow pace, and then build up the amount of time you exercise or the intensity level of the activity.

To lose weight and gain better health, it's important to get moderate-intensity physical activity. Choose activities that you enjoy and that fit into your daily life. A daily, brisk walk is an easy way to be more active and improve your health. Use a pedometer to count your daily steps and keep track of how much you're walking. Try to increase the number of steps you take each day.

Other examples of moderate-intensity physical activity include dancing, bicycling, gardening, and swimming. For greater health benefits, try to step up your level of activity or the length of time you're active. For example, start walking for 10 to 15 minutes three times a week, and then build up to brisk walking for 60 minutes, 5 days a week. You also can break up the amount of time that you're physically active into shorter amounts such as 15 minutes at a time.

This information is for general educational uses only. It may not apply to you and your personal medical needs. This information should not be used in place of a visit, call, consultation with or the advice of your physician or health care professional.

Communicate promptly with your physician or other health care professional with any health-related questions or concerns.

Be sure to follow specific instructions given to you by your physician or health care professional.

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