By Ben Fletcher

Control Your Weight with Exercise

Being overweight or obese is associated with an increased risk of health problems. It is therefore, not uncommon for doctors to recommend weight loss in order to improve your health. Physical inactivity can be a causing factor of being overweight or obese, and becoming more active can support weight loss. Not only will physical activity help to manage your bodyweight, it is also associated with a reduced risk of other chronic conditions including heart disease, type 2 diabetes, mental health and some forms of cancer.

Not getting enough exercise

If you are not getting enough exercise, you're more likely to be overweight or obese. To put this into context, suppose you are consuming 3000 calories per day, but through daily activity you only burn 2500 calories, leaving a surplus of 500 calories every day. Over the week, that equates to a surplus of 3500 calories per week, which will result in an increased body weight of 1 pound per week. Over a long period of time, you can start to see how people become overweight or obese in the first place.

Physical inactivity is an increasing problem in the UK. Public Health England state that nearly a quarter of adults report being physically inactive, meaning that they do less than 30 minutes of exercise over a week.

Through increased physical activity you can burn more calories, allowing you to use the calories you are consuming for energy maintaining your body weight, or burn more calories that you are consuming putting you in a calorie deficit and allowing you to lose weight. A lot of people will want to lose body fat and maintain or increase muscle mass. If this is your goal, it is important for you to perform resistance training as well as consume adequate protein.

Plan of attack

Losing weight takes time and requires high levels of commitment, there are no quick fixes. Getting more physically active is only part of the puzzle and following a structured weight loss programme written by a professional is highly recommended. The NHS' 12-week plan to help you lose weight is a good starting point in this regard.

The World Health Organisation state that adults should perform at least 150 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity every week or perform at least 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity every week, or a comparable combination of moderate and vigorous intensity activity. Activities that strengthen the muscles should be performed twice per week and include the major muscle groups.

Don't let these requirements put you off, though. We can break them up into 30 minute sessions, 5 days of the week, and then into three 10-minute chunks per day. Hitting recommended activity levels becomes much more achievable and manageable as soon as you break it down like this.

Further, the NHS show that just 10-minutes of brisk walking can help improve health. A brisk walk allows you to increase your heart rate by walking faster than you normally would and a great way to track your progress is through the Active10 app.

Getting more active

As you become more active, maybe through brisk 10-minute walks three times a day, you may look to progress your physical activity. Other things you might like to try include the Couch to 5k, or attending community lead Park Runs at the weekend. Regular monitoring, setting achievable goals and being active with your family and friends will help you reap the benefits of a healthy lifestyle.

Getting more active doesn't always have to be as structured as the programmes already mentioned, though. Do things you enjoy or figure out ways in which you can become more active at home, at work and while you are out and about. Here are some more ideas of how you can get more active:

  • Getting off the bus a few stops earlier or get on a few stops later, so you have to walk further
  • Taking the stairs rather than the lift
  • Walking the dog
  • Playing outside with your children, grandchildren, nephews or nieces
  • Gardening
  • Fitting a brisk walk into your lunch break
  • A walking meeting/phone call whilst at work

It's important to recognise that the aim is to change your habits and live a healthier lifestyle. You should look to seek the advice of healthcare professionals who will offer support, guidance and encouragement throughout your journey. You may also look to change the way you think about food and eating by getting some supplementary psychological advice from a trained professional.