Weight Loss and Exercise Tips

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What are the government guidelines for weight loss?

Exercise Guidelines: Health vs. Weight Loss

There is a difference between exercising for health and for weight loss. Most agree that getting in 30 minutes of physical activity on most days of the week will improve health and lower your risk of chronic disease. Incorporating a small amount of daily activity may result in blood pressure lowering, improved cholesterol levels and weight loss if you've been quite sedentary. Newer guidelines have been proposed for weight loss and maintenance. To maintain weight or see weight loss the Institute of Medicine along with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommends 60 minutes of moderate physical activity. Essentially, what this means is that over time you will probably need more activity as you continue to loss weight.

How much exercise do I need for weight loss?

Exercise For Successful Weight Loss

Have you ever wondered how much exercise is needed to lose weight and keep it off? Research from the National Weight Control Registry (NWCR) has helped to provide us with answers to this question. Established in 1994 the NWCR boasts an enrollment of 4000 members and the ongoing study provides valuable information about successful long-term weight loss. To be eligible for enrollment, individuals must have lost 30 pounds, maintained the weight loss for more than a year, and be older than 18 years.

One common trait that these successful losers had in common is an active weight loss exercise plan. Men reported an average energy expenditure of over 3,000 calories per week and women reported approximately 2,500 calories per week. This level of activity is equivalent to about one hour per day of moderate intensity exercise. A large majority (76%) of registry participants reported walking as their favorite exercise for weight loss. Other popular activities include weight training (20%), cycling (20%) and aerobics (18%). Research from registry participants suggests that exercise of less than 800 calories or 1-2 hours per week increases the chances of regaining weight. So, get out there and be active!

What type of gear to I need to begin an exercise program?

Gear Up for Exercise

One important consideration for exercise participation is having the appropriate gear. The right exercise gear makes participation in activities safer and more enjoyable. Based on your activity of choice, having the needed gear could be as simple as a good pair of shoes.

Shoes are probably the most important purchase you can make when beginning any exercise program. With so many shoe brands on the market, it can be difficult to find the correct shoes. There are shoes for every activity: running, tennis, basketball, and even walking. Your local running store or sports retailer will usually have someone who can analyze your foot type and assist you in choosing the perfect shoe for you. Be sure to try the shoe on and wear it around in the store for a while. Also, remember that the lifespan of good pair of shoes is about 300-500 miles.

Exercise apparel such as shirts, shorts and even socks can make physical activity more comfortable. New clothing technology has been developed that gives material a moisture wicking capability. By moving moisture away from the skin this technical material helps keep the body cooler and prevents chafing. In particular, the technical material in socks will prevent blisters from occurring. Is this apparel more expensive? Not necessarily. If you look hard you can find these materials in stores such as Wal-Mart or Target.

Other types of gear might include Body Glide, MP3 players, sunscreen and sunglasses. Body Glide is an anti-blister and chafing stick. You apply this product to any body part(s) that rub together such as under the arms, on the inner thighs and even the bottom of the feet.

As you can see you don't have to buy too much gear to get started. Assess your favorite activities and make sure you have everything you need to make participation as enjoyable as possible.

What are the benefits of regular exercise?

The Benefits of Regular Exercise

Do you exercise on a regular basis? If not, you are not alone. Approximately 60 percent of the population does not get enough physical activity. Interestingly enough this is about the same number of people that are overweight or obese. In our fast paced society, technology has made us more inactive. Exercise is an important player in any effective weight loss program. Exercise should become part of your daily routine something to look forward to and miss when you don't get it . A daily exercise regimen has many benefits. Most overweight individuals understand that exercise burns calories, which along with diet creates the caloric deficiency necessary for weight loss. Other important benefits of exercise include:

  • Controlling appetite—some studies suggest that moderate amounts of exercise are effective in suppressing appetite
  • Increases metabolism—using a diet only strategy to lose weight slows your metabolic rate, making weight loss even more difficult. Regular exercise speeds metabolism consequently offsetting the reduction in metabolic rate that occurs from dieting.
  • Improves self confidence—when you engage in an exercise routine it makes you feel good which serves to boost confidence and self-esteem. This confidence is then carried over to your diet plan.
  • Preserves muscle—unfortunately when you lose weight your body loses fat and muscle.

How do I overcome exercise barriers?

Overcoming Exercise Barriers

Identifying and overcoming exercise barriers are an important step to permanent weight loss. One of the biggest predictors of long term weight loss success is regular physical activity. What are the reasons that prevent you from becoming more active? To ensure your success you must become more active than you are now. No one said it would be easy. What are you willing to sacrifice to achieve your goals? Below are some of the most common reasons people give for not being active and ways to navigate these obstacles.

I don't have time to exercise

  • Squeeze in short bouts of exercise throughout your day. You burn the same number of calories walking 10 minutes several times per day as you do during a longer 30 minute walk.
  • Get up earlier a couple of days per week. This is an excellent way to start your day.
  • Why not have a walking meeting? Instead of meeting a client in your office meet at a park or you could walk around your facility as you discuss business.
  • Multi-task by walking around the field at your child's soccer game.
  • Arrange for your spouse to pick up the kids from school so that you can get in a workout.
Exercise is boring to me

  • Add cross-training to you exercise regimen.
  • Exercise can be a social activity. Invite co-workers or other friends to exercise with you.
  • Try something new like an exercise class at the gym or participate on a church league softball team.
  • Listen to music or anything else that will motivate you to be more active.
I'm too tired after work

  • Keep your workout bag in the car and go straight to the gym after work.
  • Keep your workout shoes at work so you can get in a short walk when you have an opportunity.
  • Watch the evening news as you exercise on your fitness equipment at home.
I'm embarrassed to exercise in public

  • Use an exercise DVD at home
  • Join an exercise class that has other individuals with weight problems
  • Tell yourself that it's more important to lose weight than to be embarrassed and just go do it.
I've had bad experiences with exercise in the past

  • Just because you were treated badly in gym class or by a high school football coach is no reason to give up on exercise. Maybe you did too much too soon and got injured. You are in control so choose activities that are fun, starting slowly and building up over time.
Everyone can find reasons not to exercise. To break down exercise barriers you must make a commitment by planning exercise into your day. You make appointments for other important activities in your day, why not exercise?

Which online fitness program should I use?

Go Online for Fitness

For those who are cyber savvy going online to meet your fitness needs is an excellent idea. There are many personal training businesses providing online weight loss exercise programs. Before choosing a program you first should assess your needs. What type of services are you looking for? If you know little or nothing about exercise it is probably wise to join a comprehensive program that provides as much information and one on one attention as possible. Someone with more fitness knowledge may choose a less inclusive service, say for instance provide just a workout plan with none of the bells and whistles.

No matter what online weight loss exercise option you choose the program must be structured to consider your personal goals, your unique life circumstances and take into consideration your equipment availability. Cost of online fitness programs vary based on the number of services offered. Some services include personalized online or phone consultation with a fitness expert, tracking your exercise and weight loss goals, daily e-mailed workouts, online access to support groups through their website, articles, tips and a lot more. There are some relatively inexpensive and even free sites out that may provide some or all of these services. Choose wisely, work hard, and you can achieve your weight loss goal.

What is cross training?

Cross Train Your Way to Weight Loss Success

One way to spice up any exercise program is to cross train. The term cross training means you alternate the type of activities you participate in. If you have never exercised regularly, cross training is a great way to experience a variety of activities to determine your favorites. You don't want your exercise routine to become just that…routine.

Cross training prevents exercise from becoming boring. Choose a few activities you like and stick with them. Remember you are after a permanent lifestyle change so it's critical that you enjoy what you are doing. Otherwise your motivation to exercise will diminish over time. The best type of exercises for you are the ones that allow you to be consistent. With aerobic type activities you may choose to walk on a track one day, and then use a treadmill at your gym the next. You can participate in an aerobic classes, ride a bike, use an elliptical trainer or do a water aerobics classes. Strength training activities include the traditional use of machines and free weights on your own, enrolling in a group weight training class or doing resistance training in a pool. Another popular activity in fitness centers today is a ‘boot camp' style training program. In boot camp you engage in a range of activities to strengthen and tone your body using a military-style approach. Another benefit of cross training is that you are using your muscles in a little different way allowing you to exercise on consecutive days without much soreness or fatigue.

The best training programs combine aerobic and strength training. One example might be to participate in aerobic activities on Monday, Wednesday and Friday while strength training Tuesday and Thursday. The options are limitless. You will never go wrong by adding cross training to your exercise program.

Can resistance training help me lose weight?

Strength Training For Weight Loss

Strength training includes any type of exercise where you work against resistance. This includes any movement using your own body weight, bands, tubes, resistance machines, or free weights. Incorporating a strength training routine into your weight loss program can help you lose weight. First, resistance training is a great calorie burning exercise. On average you will burn approximately 200-400 calories per session. Another benefit of strength training is that your metabolic rate will stay elevated for some time after the workout.

Some research studies show that metabolic rate can stay elevated for more than 12 hours. This means you are burning more calories even at rest. However, the main advantage of strength training is that it preserves muscle so as you lose weight more of it comes from fat. If you continue resistance training for several months you may actually gain muscle. Adding muscle is great because it takes more energy to fuel the extra muscle with most of these calories coming from fat. As with any new exercise start gradually. Begin lifting a couple of days a week using light weights at first. As your confidence grows, you can increase the number of days you train, the amount of weight you use, or the number of exercises you do. An appropriately designed resistance training program can be an effective tool for weight loss.

What are the benefits of walking?

Walking Your Way to Weight Loss: One Step at a Time

Walking is probably the safest and most effective weight loss exercise. There are many reasons you should consider a walking program. Walking is convenient and can be done just about anywhere. You can walk around a local track, in your neighborhood, at the mall, and you can even walk with your pet. Walking is fun, especially outdoors where you get to enjoy the scenery and listen to your iPod or MP3 player.

Use walking as a social event by inviting friends to come along. Once you're out there you will be glad you did it. Walking is relatively inexpensive; all you need is a good pair of walking shoes and the proper clothes for your weather conditions. Walking is done at any pace, so pick one that is comfortable for you and stick with it. Don't get intimidated by runners who come streaking by you as you walk. Remember, that you will be burning approximately the same number of calories whether you walk or run the same distance, its just that walking will take you longer to get in the same distance.

Finally, don't over do it on your first few workouts, start slowly and build up to where you can walk comfortably for an hour at a moderate pace. If you do this consistently you will be on your way to weight loss success before you know it.

Do I have to strenously exercise to lose weight?

Any Activity is Helpful For Weight Loss

One key element needed for weight loss is increased physical activity. Some is better than none and more is better up to a point. However, this doesn't mean you have to go out everyday and vigorously exercise to achieve results. Every little bit of activity matters. Your attitude should be that ‘anything counts' with regards to physical activity. Mowing your lawn or washing your car burns calories and counts as physical exercise. A structured exercise regimen is not necessary, at least initially, to achieve weight loss. If you've been inactive for quite some time just adding in lifestyle physical activities can kick start your weight loss. The more weight you lose the more active you need to be to continue losing weight.

So remember, count everything as physical activity and feel good about the changes you are making. Start with small changes like intentionally parking further from the entrance of your favorite shopping center or begin taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Can you think of other ways to add more activity into your life? Then do it! Give it a try and see if it helps you begin to lose weight.

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Jerry Mayo
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