Table of Contents
- Recommended Exercise Methods
- Exercise's Effects on the Heart
- Exercise's Effects on Diabetes
- Exercise's Effects on Bones and Muscles
- Exercise's Effects on the Lungs
- Exercise's Effects on Weight
- Exercise's Effects on Other Conditions
Exercise's Effects on Weight
Exercising helps people reduce their weight, maintain weight loss, and fight obesity. Research has shown that women who regularly exercise but do not change their diet can lose significantly more weight than less active women.
Thirty minutes of moderate-intensity exercise may be adequate to maintain cardiovascular health, but it might not prevent weight gain. An hour or more of daily moderate exercise may be needed to promote weight loss. Children may need more activity.
Losing significant weight requires both exercise and calorie restriction. In addition, if a person exercises without dieting, any actual weight loss may be minimal because dense and heavier muscle mass replaces fat. Nonetheless, regardless of weight loss, a fit body will look more toned and be healthier.
People who exercise are more apt to stay on a diet plan. Exercise improves psychological well-being and replaces sedentary habits that usually lead to snacking. Exercise may even act as a mild appetite suppressant.
Exercising without dieting still adds health benefits, maybe even lowering the death rate of overweight, unfit people. People who have trained for a long time may develop more efficient mechanisms for burning fat and are able to stay leaner.
The following are some suggestions and observations on exercise and weight loss:
- The treadmill burns the most calories of standard aerobic machines. Exercise sessions as short as 10 minutes, which are done frequently (about four times a day), may be the most successful program for obese people.
- The more strenuous the exercise, the longer the body continues to burn calories before returning to its resting level. This state of fast calorie burning can last from as little as a few minutes after light exercise to as long as several hours after prolonged or heavy exercise.
- Resistance (strength) training is excellent for reducing fat and building muscles. It should be performed two or three times a week.
- Fidgeting may be very helpful in keeping pounds off. Regular exercise is certainly the best course, but for people who must sit for hours at work, frequently shifting positions while sitting may have some benefit.
- It is important to realize that as people slim down, they burn fewer calories per mile of walking or jogging. The rate of weight loss slows down, sometimes discouragingly so, after an initial dramatic head start using diet and exercise combinations. People should be aware of this trend and keep adding to their daily exercise routine.
- Changes in fat and muscle distribution may differ between men and women as they exercise. Men tend to lose abdominal fat (which lowers their risk for heart disease faster than reducing general body fat). In women, aerobic and strength training are more likely to result in fat loss in the arms and trunk. However, they do not gain muscle tissue in those areas.
Because obesity is one of the risk factors for heart disease, anyone who is overweight must discuss their exercise program with a physician before starting.
Review Date: 05/08/2011
Reviewed By: Harvey Simon, MD, Editor-in-Chief, Associate Professor of Medicine, Harvard Medical School; Physician, Massachusetts General Hospital. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.