I am often asked if it is necessary to exercise to shed pounds. The short answer to this is no – you can certainly lose weight by decreasing your caloric intake alone, and in fact, dietary changes are probably more important than alterations in your activity level. However, it is clear that we live in a sedentary, internet-driven society, and the more time we spend sitting still, the lower our caloric expenditures will be! Our bodies were built to use – so – let’s get out there and use them!
Remember that it is important to:
a) increase your exercise gradually, to avoid injury and to be sure you can tolerate it; and
b) discuss your exercise program with your doctor before you start, to get the A-OK to go ahead with your plan! (your doctor may want to do some tests of your heart and/or exercise tolerance before you start)
Here are ten great reasons to exercise! (and I have a hundred more…)
1. Being active will increase the difference between Calories In (what you eat) and Calories Out (activity) – the bigger the difference, the faster you will shed pounds! It is clear that exercise results in weight loss as well as a reduction in body fat.
2. Exercise increases your sensitivity to insulin, putting less stress on your pancreas to control your blood sugars.
3. How cool is this: Adhering to a physical activity program results in a decrease of 6,000 heart beats per day in men, and 3,000 heart beats per day in women! (and yes, this is after taking into account the increased number of heart beats during the workout itself). Think of all the work you are saving your heart in the long run!
4. Regular physical activity improves your sensitivity to other hormones as well, such as adrenaline and glucagon, both of which are involved with regulation of your blood sugar levels. Thus, exercise overall enhances the accuracy of your body to regulate use and storage of sugar and fat.
5. Several studies suggest that exercise provides some protection against cancer, specifically breast cancer, pancreatic cancer, and other intestinal malignancies.
6. Reduce your stress! There’s nothing like a good workout to burn off some stress after a hard day at work.
7. Amongst older individuals, exercise decreases the risk of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease (one study showed a 40% decreased risk of Alzheimer’s!).
8. Cure those blues! Exercise decreases the risk of depression and anxiety as well.
9. Working out regularly decreases your risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
10. Because it’s FUN!! Find an activity or sport that you enjoy, and make the most of it!!