If you dread working out and feel like you could never lose weight because you couldn’t possibly commit to regular exercise… you aren’t alone. One of the most common perceived barriers to weight loss amongst overweight/obese individuals is exercise. When your weight is higher than ideal, movement can be uncomfortable, or even painful. Extra pressure on joints, feeling self-conscious in group settings, or limited range of movement can all be factors preventing you from exercising.
The role of exercise in weight loss
While the rule of thumb is that you can lose weight without exercise and that the majority of your weight loss will come from changing your eating patterns, there are some important reasons you should still try to include some form of physical activity in your day.
Exercise- in particular, resistance/weight-bearing exercise – helps to minimise muscle mass as you lose weight. Why is this important? Because the greater your muscle mass, the higher your resting metabolism is. This means you burn off more energy throughout the day just going about your usual activities. Exercise is also important for your overall health, energy levels, motivation and concentration, and makes you feel more positive.
And while working out will burn some additional calories, and may make a modest impact on your weight loss, just make sure that you don’t fall into the trap of overindulging because you think you can burn it off later. Most of us overestimate how much energy we expend exercising compared to the energy we take in when we indulge in unhealthy foods.
The role of exercise in weight maintenance
What the studies have shown, however, is that once you get to your goal weight, leading an active lifestyle including regular moderate-intensity physical activity is incredibly important. Exercise helps to regulate your metabolism and helps to avoid that bounce-back effect that happens with yo-yo dieting. You’ve worked hard to get to your goal weight, so it would be incredibly disappointing to regain that weight again.
Working on your fitness while you are losing weight is a great strategy so that you’ve formed healthy habits by the time you get to your goal weight. Then simply employing strategies such as walking or cycling to work. Going for a walk on your lunch break. Taking the stairs instead of the elevator. Running around outside with the kids after school. Enjoying group fitness classes with friends. Swimming in the ocean. Going out dancing (or in your living room). Gardening on weekends. Anything where you body is moving counts.
So we would love to hear what your favourite ways are to include more physical activity in your week!