A lot of people struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle that includes a balanced diet and regular exercise. Let’s face it: if it was easy, everyone would do it. Luckily, the American Dietetic Association spells out pretty clearly what you should be doing if you want to achieve your personal fitness goals and well-being.
The key to weight control is balancing our energy (food) intake with how much energy our body burns (physical activity). To lose weight, you must burn more calories than you eat.
- Exercise is a key way to do this. When you exercise regularly, you build stronger muscles. Muscle cells burn more calories than fat cells throughout the day, even while you are resting. This helps boost your metabolism.
- How much exercise you need to make a difference in your weight depends on how much you eat and what activity you are doing. A medium-sized adult would have to walk more than 30 miles to burn up 3,500 calories, the equivalent of one pound of fat. Although that may seem like a lot, you don’t have to walk the 30 miles all at once. Walking a mile a day for 30 days will achieve the same result, as long as you don’t eat more than usual.
- If you eat 100 calories a day more than your body needs, you will gain approximately 10 pounds in a year. You could lose the weight or keep it off by doing 30 minutes of moderate exercise daily. The combination of exercise and diet is the best way to control your weight.
Regular exercise—including walking—decreases your risk of:
- Heart attack
- High blood pressure
- Some cancers
- Exercise also improves good cholesterol (HDL) levels
You should always check with your health care provider before you begin any new form of exercise.