If the pull of celeb endorser Jennifer Hudson and the promise of eating what you want have finally convinced you to try Weight Watchers, you probably know all about food points. With values assigned to everything you eat, you can tally up how much you eat each day and stay within weight-busting boundaries. But don't forget that while you're adding up how much that sandwich cost you, you'll need to tally up your exercise points as well. Depending on your goals, the Weight Watchers plan has ideas and recommendations for daily exercise, too.
While Weight Watchers follows certain industry standards when it comes to exercise recommendations, remember that it's not a one-size-fits-all type of program. Each program is highly individualized based on your initial assessment and your goals, like wanting to shed major pounds or just wanting to maintain your current weight. You'll also calculate food points based upon your current level of activity, so more exercise means more of a points allowance.
Weight Watchers uses the recommendations set forth by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention when it comes to basic exercise requirements. That means a healthy adult should aim for around 30 minutes of cardio, five times per week -- no excuses. The diet giant also points out that not all of your aerobic activity needs to be done at once. You can break it up into smaller 10-minute chunks if it makes your requirement more manageable for your lifestyle.
Weight Watchers knows that you need to create a calorie deficit to lose weight -- that means consuming fewer cals than you burn. While staying within your points value can definitely help you achieve your weight-loss goals -- look better in a bikini or wow at a reunion -- increasing your daily exercise can also help you drop pounds. That's why Weight Watchers uses the American College of Sports Medicine's recommendations of exercising for about 60 minutes per day, aiming for a burn of 400 to 500 calories each session for a weight -loss goal.
Now, here's the fun part -- you can swap exercise for higher point-value foods to continue your progress without getting derailed by a dessert or noshing on pizza with the girls. Weight Watchers suggests that before you eat higher-calorie foods, you calculate the food points and then exercise to "save" those points for when you want to indulge. You can use the Weight Watchers Activity Points Calculator to figure out the points value of an exercise session and then balance it with food splurges. Dancing for 20 minutes at high intensity earns you four activity points, which is equal to a Thai lettuce wrap at your next girl's night. Just keep in mind that "extra" exercise points should be earned in addition to your regular workouts for continuous weight maintenance.
Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.