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Physical Activity – How to Start

April 7, 2009 by  
Filed under Health Department Weight Loss Tips

Physical activity should be an integral part of weight loss therapy and weight maintenance. Initially, try moderate levels of physical activity for 30 to 45 minutes, 3 to 5 days per week.

An increase in physical activity is an important component of weight loss therapy, although it will not lead to a substantially greater weight loss than diet alone over 6 months. Most weight loss occurs because of decreased caloric intake.

Sustained physical activity is most helpful in the prevention of weight regain. In addition, physical activity is beneficial for reducing risks for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes beyond that produced by weight reduction alone.

Many people live sedentary lives, have little training or skills in physical activity, and are difficult to motivate toward increasing their activity. For these reasons, starting a physical activity regimen may require supervision for some people. If you feel that this applies to you find a fitness instructor who can help you in the beginning. The need to avoid injury during physical activity is a high priority.

The physical activity regimen should be based on your age, symptoms, and risk factors.

For most obese people, physical activity should be initiated slowly, and the intensity should be increased gradually. Initial activities may be increasing small tasks of daily living such as taking the stairs or walking or swimming at a slow pace.


With time, depending on progress, the amount of weight lost, you may consider engaging in more strenuous activities. Some of these include fitness walking, cycling, rowing, cross-country skiing, aerobic dancing, and jumping rope.

Jogging provides a high-intensity aerobic exercise, but it can lead to orthopedic injury. If you are seriously overweight and prefer jogging make sure to visit a weight loss consultant who can assess your ability to do this.

Competitive sports, such as tennis and volleyball, can provide an enjoyable form of physical activity for many, but again, be careful not to injure yourself.

Select activities that you enjoy and that fit into their daily lives. Because amounts of activity are functions of duration, intensity, and frequency, the same amounts of activity can be obtained in longer sessions of moderately intense activities (such as brisk walking) as in shorter sessions of more strenuous activities (such as running).

A regimen of daily walking is an attractive form of physical activity for many people. Start by walking 10 minutes, 3 days a week, and build to 30 to 45 minutes of more intense walking at least 3 days a week and increase to most, if not all, days.

With this regimen, an additional 100 to 200 kcal/day of can be expended. Caloric expenditure will vary depending on your weight and the intensity of the activity. This regimen can be adapted to other forms of physical activity, but walking is particularly attractive because of its safety and accessibility.

To be continued…

U.S Department of Health and Human Services

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