Exercise and Activity


Lt Col Phillips
Physical activity is a key element in creating a calorie deficit. Remember, a deficit means using more calories than you eat. The only way to use enough calories to create a deficit is by exercising regularly. Dr. Bethea, can you tell us more about effective exercise programs for weight loss?

Dr. Bethea
Although it is possible to lose weight with physical activity alone, a much more effective approach is combining physical activity with a diet that reduces calorie intake. Without a lower calorie diet, more physical activity is needed to create a deficit. In fact, some studies estimate that to lose one pound per week without dieting would require walking up to 35 miles per week. On the other hand, just 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week can produce the same results when it’s combined with a lower calorie diet.

When considering an exercise program, it’s important to think about activity type, intensity, duration, and frequency. For weight loss, it’s generally recommended to do at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week. Examples of this kind of exercise are brisk walking, biking, swimming, and playing tennis or basketball. The 150 minutes can be spread out in short spurts over the week, for example, doing 30 minutes of activity at least five times a week.

It’s also important to choose activities you enjoy. You are more likely to stick with a program if you enjoy the activity. Planning progress goals and overall target weight loss are important to consider as well because these can provide incentive or motivation to keep going.

Physical activity is important for weight maintenance as well. In fact, some studies suggest that maintaining weight after weight-loss requires more physical activity. One hour of moderate-intensity activity per day or 200 to 300 minutes per week are recommended for weight loss maintenance.

It’s a good idea to see a healthcare provider before starting a physical activity program. This is especially important for men older than 40 and women older than 50 who plan a vigorous program or who have a serious health condition or risk factors for a serious health condition.