If you haven’t exercised in years and you’re trying to lose weight, there’s good news for you in the world of weight loss research. You probably don’t need to embark on an intimidating program with running, yoga and weight lifting to start moving the scale in the right direction. The data suggests that a healthy diet, along with brisk walking and reducing sedentary behavior, may be enough.
The National Weight Control Registry catalogues information about people who have been successful with weight loss. People in the registry have lost anywhere from 30 – 300 pounds and have kept it off for at least a year. Many have maintained their weight loss for years to decades longer. By evaluating the self reported exercise of these success stories, researchers have found that the average person uses brisk walking as their go to work out. Walking feels doable to almost everyone. Keep in mind that it doesn’t have to start as brisk walking. Start slow enough that you can maintain a conversation without getting too winded. From there, pick up the pace as tolerated, pushing yourself to walk for longer durations daily. It’s fine to do your walking in bursts of 10 minutes multiple times a day. Those on the National Weight Control Registry usually exercise for an hour daily. By the way, these folks also keep track of their exercise either with a fitness app or old fashioned pen and paper.
Will daily walking lead to weight loss? Actually, you may not notice weight loss when you start walking, but don’t despair. Your hard work with healthy eating will be rewarded and you will be more likely to MAINTAIN your weight loss if you exercise. Those who don’t incorporate increased movement (walking or other exercise) into their daily routine are unlikely to keep their weight off. So put on your walking shoes and get started today!
Why all the buzz about reducing sedentary behavior versus exercise? We understand that sitting all day has a significant negative impact on metabolism and weight. Imagine that you have an hour long commute by car, then sit at your computer for 10 hours, and then drive another hour home. That’s 12 hours of sedentary behavior, unless you’re actively incorporating movement or walking breaks into your day. Perhaps you add an hour or two of TV in the evening and suddenly you have logged 14 hours of sedentary time before crawling in bed for the night. Going to the gym on the way home for an hour doesn’t undo the negative impact of all that sedentary time. That means that in addition to fitting some walking or other exercise into your day, you should focus on increasing your little daily movements in order to reduce your sedentary time. What can you do? Plug a couple of breaks into your day to walk or move around. Pace while on the phone. Hold walking meetings when possible. Walk down the hall to talk to a colleague rather than email. Even a quick 10 minute break to walk the stairs midday can help. For those lucky enough to have a job that includes movement…you’re one step ahead of the game!
Weight loss is really hard. Your genes, your brain chemicals (neurotransmitters) and your hormones all work to resist your efforts. However…it can be done! Slow and steady is the best approach. Set SMART goals for yourself that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time oriented. An example: I will walk for 30 minutes, in two 15 minute bursts, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. You can do it! Set a SMART goal and move more today.
Thanks for listening and I wish you the best of health.
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