Ahead of winter, tackling obesity has become a priority for a lot of people in the fight against Covid-19. Research has shown that being overweight puts people at greater risk of severe complications from the disease. Particularly among younger and middle-aged adults and more so in men.
The reason for this is because obesity causes restricted breathing, making it more difficult to clear pneumonia and other respiratory infections. And fat is biologically active and stores pro-inflammatory chemicals, which promote a constant state of inflammation in the body.
According to the Havard School of Public Health, obesity results from energy imbalance: too many calories in, too few calories burned. Age, body size, genetics and the amount of daily activity performed all affect how many calories are burned each day. The most variable factor and the one that’s the easiest to modify is physical activity.
So if you have decided it’s time to tackle obesity, increasing your physical activity is key to sustainable weight management. So let’s explore the concept of exercise as medicine and give you some tips on how to get started on your weight loss journey.
Exercise Is Medicine
You may have heard of the expression ‘exercise is medicine’. But what does it mean?
Well if we take a look at the human body, it was designed so that all the physiological functions are fully optimised when we move. Exercise has been proven to release natural substances that help relax blood vessel walls, lower blood pressure and reduce LDL cholesterol. In addition to moving glucose out of the bloodstream and into the cells where it is needed, lower insulin levels and reduce inflammation. Combined, these effects help protect our immune system and protect against heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.
Being active has also been proven to alleviate the symptoms of many mental health conditions. In fact, research shows that our brains release endorphins which act as a natural mood booster. Furthermore, exercise stimulates our brain chemicals that foster the growth of nerve cells and affects neurotransmitters such as serotonin that affect our mood. From gaining more energy and feeling more positive in our daily lives to sleeping better at night, exercise is a powerful way to combat mental health challenges, helps us to reduce symptoms of anxiety and cope with life’s challenges.
Your Recommended Weekly Prescription
In a perfect world, we would all perform the recommended 30-60 minutes of moderate-high intensity exercise every day. However, our busy lifestyles and work commitments don’t always allow for this. But new studies have shown that even a small amount of exercise – for a short duration of time at a low intensity – can go a long way.
The key to success is creating a manageable routine and adding physical activity to your list of weekly health requirements. If you haven’t been exercising regularly, start by increasing your amount of physical activity in small increments.
Best Exercises For Weight Loss
Cardiovascular exercises are the most effective to aid weight loss. While cardio is great for burning calories, combining it with strength training workouts can increase the rate at which you lose weight. And weight training exercises help you burn more calories long after a session has ended.
The best exercises for weight loss include:
- Jogging and Running
- Weight Training
- Interval Training
Walking is a great exercise to begin with. This lower-impact exercise doesn’t stress your joints. A 12-week study in 20 women with obesity found that walking for 50–70 minutes 3 times per week reduced body fat and waist circumference by an average of 1.5% and 1.1 inches (2.8 cm), respectively.
Jogging and running can help burn visceral fat (fat around the waist) and can be easily incorporated into your weekly routine. While running outdoors can be hard on your joints, treadmills, on the other hand, have built-in cushioning to lessen the impact.
Cycling is another exercise that is great for beginners. It can be performed outdoors or indoors on a stationary bike. Not only is it an effective weight loss exercise but research has shown regular cyclists have increased insulin sensitivity.
For weight training, compound exercises are best for losing body fat are those that recruit large muscles and work for multiple muscle groups simultaneously.
And HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) is a cardiovascular exercise that switches up between short periods of intense exercise with fewer recovery periods. It is a form of exercise where you will exert 100% effort in quick bursts followed by short recovery periods. The reason being you burn more calories in a short space of time than other workouts. These workouts are great for people who are short on time but want to maximise their results.
Before starting a new exercise routine, it’s important to talk to your doctor about starting and what level of intensity is safe for you. We then recommend booking a free fitness consultation with a Gym Plus expert fitness trainer to discuss your fitness goals.
Finally, remember it’s simple changes to our health and daily lifestyle that can have the biggest impact on our health and wellbeing and the secret to success is taking the first step by making time for exercise.
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