Exercise is a powerful ally in the battle for weight control. If you're not exercising in addition to controlling your diet, you're short-changing yourself in several important ways.
1. On-going exercise will help protect you from cardiovascular disease
2. It will boost your energy levels and productivity.
3. Most important of all it will steadily modify your body shape and enhance your sense of well-being and confidence.
4. It will increase your libido and sexual health.
5. It can protect you from diseases such s cancer and diabetes.
These benefits will be seen in four ways: Consider the following:
- The more physically active you are, the more calories you can consume without gaining weight
- The more muscle you develop relative to fat the more calories your body burns naturally. You even start to burn fat when you are resting.
- Even after the exercise has been completed your metabolism remains at an increased rate and continues to burn calories
- Your body is less sensitive to the fat-storing effects of insulin directly after aerobic exercise. That means that any carbohydrates consumed in the following 60 - 90 minutes will be used to replenish the glycogen in your liver and not stored as fat.
So you can see that exercise is valuable for weight loss, both in the short term and in the long term. Note that the key here to fat-burning is aerobic exercise, and aerobic exercise is simple to achieve with walking. Amazon is a great source for books that can specifically target walking as a weight loss and fitness. Consider "Walking for Weight Loss" by Lucy Knight or "The Complete Guide to Walking" by Mark Fenton. However there are plenty of other titles that are full of useful tips to lose weight by walking.
If you have been sedentary for a long while the big question is what exercise and how much. Walking for weight loss is one of the simplest and most effective exercises you can add to your lifestyle and one that will just keep on giving back the longer you keep walking. I mentioned aerobic exercise before and that is the key. Walking for weight loss must be aerobic, not an amble along at a snail's pace, enjoying the scenery. Walking for weight loss must be quite vigorous to be effective. Try to maintain a pace just under being out of breath. To begin this will be a stretch but you will be amazed how quickly you will gain fitness. With time your fitness will develop and the pace will pick up. When that happens you will be amazed how the pounds just fall off. Using a guide as suggested above will help you maximise the weight loss you achieve.
The rule for aerobic exercise is as follows:
Take your age and subtract from 220. Multiply the result by 85% and the number you are left with is the maximum recommended heart rate for aerobic exercise for a healthy person with no health problems. For example, I am 55 years old. This is how it is calculated.
220 - 55 = 165 x 85% = 140.
That means I should not exceed this figure during my walking workout. My peak pulse rate sometimes exceeds this during short term bursts such as when my son and I sprint the last 500 metres of our 5,000 metre jog, but I maintain the 140 for the other 4,500 metres. Most experts believe that exercise 3-5 times per week for a duration of 20-60 minutes is the most effective for weight loss and fitness. Ideally start at 20 minutes and steadily build up to the 50 - 60 minute range. For health and fitness 20 minutes is too little to make any difference.
Consider another amazing health benefit. Women who exercise regularly enjoy a dramatically reduced chance of developing breast cancer. Exercise is good for a lot of things from heart disease and obesity reduction to cancer. And one of the first malignancies found to be prevented by physical activity was breast cancer.
It's been looked at in all sorts of ways and results suggest that whether a woman is pre or post menopausal, if she exercised around three hours a week moderately in her adolescence her risk of breast cancer falls by about a third. And if she kept up and average of four hours per week throughout her life then her chances fall by around a half.
One explanation is that exercise may lower oestrogen levels and oestrogen stimulates breast tissue.
The evidence suggests though that if you're already getting a lot of exercise, that increasing it further won't make a lot of difference. Women with most to gain are probably the one's not taking much exercise at all or taking their physical activity too easily.
So if you've enough puff to chat on your morning walk, you're probably not doing it hard enough. So twenty minutes and an easy amble won't cut it.
Walking for weight loss is a powerful and low impact way for anyone wanting to lose weight and gain fitness. Best of all the most it might cost is a good pair of shoes. Go get 'em and we'll see a slimmer and healthier you on the other side!
(As always it is recommended that you consult a qualified medical practitioner before embarking on an exercise program.)