Author: Karl Lenser
Having an excessive amount of fat tissue presents a myriad of potential health problems, including a greater risk for hypertension, cancer, diabetes, musculoskeletal problems, and cardiovascular diseases. Weight gain occurs when calories consumed are greater than calories expended.
To lose a pound of fat, one has to negate 3,500 calories through physical activity and cutting back in caloric consumption. One simple plan to achieve weight loss is to make a daily goal of negating 500 calories per day.
This can be accomplished by performing some physical activity every day that will burn 250 calories and cut back 250 calories from your daily food and beverage intake. For example, if you walk briskly for approximately 40 minutes and choose not to eat a candy bar, donut, or drink a 20-ounce soft drink (all of these are around 250 calories), you would be negating 500 calories in a day. Losing 500 calories a day for one week equals losing one pound of fat.
To lose weight safely and effectively, one must combine physical activity with nutritional modifications. You need to exercise to maintain your muscle mass and increase your metabolism. Losing weight by dieting alone will result in a loss of muscle weight and fat weight. Losing muscle weight is not good! Muscle is metabolically more active than fat, and it requires more energy (calories) to keep it healthy and nourished.
The more muscle you lose, the slower your internal engine becomes, which makes losing weight even more difficult. This is why one should incorporate cardiovascular exercises and strength training into an exercise routine.
What exercises are the best? The answer is the types of exercise you enjoy doing. I try to encourage walking as much as possible, because it is convenient, inexpensive, and a natural movement. The key to a walking program is investing in a good pair of shoes. Running shoes work fine for walking as they are comfortable and can give you up to 400 miles of wear before it’s time to purchase another pair.
Other examples of cardio training are Zumba classes, elliptical machines, cycling, swimming, rowing and jogging. All of these will strengthen your heart and lungs and burn a significant amount of calories. The more minutes … the more calories expended!
Strength training should be done at least twice a week. Free weights or machines are both effective as are group exercise classes that focus on the muscular system. Benefits of strength training include a faster metabolism, enhanced functionality, and decreased risk for osteoporosis and hypertension.
To lose weight safely and effectively, establish a realistic goal and realize that one to two pounds per week is a healthy goal. Keep a food and exercise journal and get some support from friends and family members.
Remember that patience and consistency are very important components of any exercise and weight loss program. And always think of this mantra: “If I am not moving, I am not improving.”
Karl Lenser is the UALR employee wellness coordinator.