Sunday, March 25, 2012

Exercise for Overweight Men and Women

Adults with a body mass index (BMI) of 25 to 29.9 are considered overweight (excluding athletes). While body weight can be influenced by genetics and culture, the biggest contributor to excess weight is eating too much and exercising too little. Extra weight can be dangerous to your health, causing high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and osteoarthritis. Your joints will also suffer from the extra weight. Not to worry, it’s never too late to change your eating and exercise habits.

Everything we eat or drink has calories in it. We need some of these calories to survive, but many people eat more than they burn in a day, resulting in fat stores. We can maintain our weight by eating the same number of calories that we burn, and we can lose weight by consuming less calories than we use up.

If your genes are programmed to hold onto fat cells longer, it may be harder (though not impossible) for you to lose weight and keep it off. An estimated 85% of us have something called thrifty genes. These are genes that developed as humans evolved, to store fat cells while food was scarce or unavailable. Now, thrifty genes are very annoying, as most of us have regular access to food and tend to eat more than we actually need.

No matter what your present condition, diet and exercise can help you drop pounds, get back energy and feel great about yourself. After talking to your doctor about starting a diet and workout plan, find an activity you really enjoy and recruit a friend to work out with you.

Try starting out with walking, then move to jogging or biking. If you know someone who is already an active walker or biker, ask to tag along in a short walk or ride. As you build strength, walk or bike a little bit longer or increase your speed. An electric bicycle is a great way to get started on a biking program. Set a starting goal, like biking for 30 minutes. If you find you’re exhausted after only 5 or 10 minutes, turn on the motor and finish your ride without pedaling. The next time you go out for a ride, see if you can go a few minutes longer without using the motor.

Keep track of your activities and food intake each week and weigh yourself once a week to note your physical progress toward your goal. The numbers on the scale shouldn’t be the only factor driving your goals: exercising makes us feel healthier and be happier. If your weight doesn’t start to drop right away, relax! Take comfort in knowing that you’re making your body happy and the pounds will follow.

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