In the digital age, people spend their time watching videos and television shows on laptops, surfing the web and playing computer games. Given that these activities are sedentary, it’s not a mystery that obesity has become a global epidemic. While a certain level of exercise is required for cardiovascular health, the amount of exercise you have to do to lose weight is much greater. If you’re obese, you need to do at least 60 to 90 minutes daily of moderate to intense physical activity to lose weight, according to Linda Brannon’s book, “Health Psychology: An Introduction to Behavior and Health.”
Types of Cardiovascular Activities
Begin a fitness regimen with such aerobic activities as walking or swimming at a slow pace and gradually build up your strength and cardiovascular endurance for other types of physical exercises. Avoid high-impact aerobics, running and jumping. As you grow fit, weight-bearing activities include rowing, simulated cross-country skiing, stair climbing and low-impact aerobics. Activities that are not weight-bearing include cycling, swimming, water aerobics and circuit weight training. If you’re trying to burn off fat, focus on increasing the duration of your workouts. Circuit-weight training, or a sequence of resistance exercises, can be an effective way to lose weight and build muscle mass. A circuit typically consists of eight to 12 stations of different weight-lifting or body-weight exercises. If a 200-pound person performs 15 to 22 reps every half minute per station with 15-second rests between stations, he expends 360 kcal in a half hour. This energy cost equates to a jog at 5 mph.
A Fitness Regimen
When figuring out your exercise regimen, take into account your own physical capabilities, needs and preferences. If you feel uncomfortable in a swimming pool, try rowing or go for a spin on a stationary cycle instead. Aim to build up to 30 to 60 minutes of exercise per session four to five days weekly. If you were inactive, you can break up the 30 minutes into three short exercise sessions of 10 minutes each. If you incorporate resistance training into your workout, you can boost your muscle-to-fat ratio. As you build more muscle, you’ll speed up your metabolism and increase the number of calories burned at rest. If you’re having difficulty getting started on a fitness regimen, go on daily walks. Begin by walking for 10 minutes three days a week, progressively increasing the duration to 30 to 45 minutes and picking up the pace.
Exercise During Daily Activities
Incorporate exercise into daily activities to get your body moving as much as possible. Instead of taking an elevator, use the stairs. When a 200-pound person climbs stairs, he burns 23 kcal per minute, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Park at a distance from the shopping center or work and walk the rest of the way. A 20-minute walk to cover one mile will burn 106 kcal. While at the office, do desk exercises or take walk breaks. When you have recreation time, avoid settling on the sofa to watch television and go bowling or golfing.
If you’re at risk of coronary heart disease and over age 40, get medical clearance before engaging in aerobics activities, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. Avoid high-impact aerobics and jogging to burn off calories until you’re in good shape and can weather the stress put on your joints. Exercise in light workout garb that promotes heat exchange and drink fluids to hydrate your body. If you have difficulty breathing, suffer from nausea or pain in your joints, chest or muscles, lower the intensity of the exercise or stop.
- Exercise Physiology: Basis of Human Movement in Health and Disease; Stanley P. Brown, et al.
- Strategy Development Workshop for Public Education on Weight And Obesity; U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
- Handbook of Obesity: Clinical Applications, Second Edition; George A. Bray, et al.
- Lifetime Physical Fitness and Wellness: A Personalized Program; Wener W.K. Hoeger, et al.
- Obesity: Pathophysiology, Psychology & Treatment; George L. Blackburn, et al.
- Health Psychology: An Introduction to Behavior and Health; Linda Brannon, et al.
- American College of Sports Medicine: Obesity and Exercise; Stacy Schmidt
- DukeHealth.org: Aerobic Exercise Trumps Resistance Training for Weight and Fat Loss
- Therapeutic Groups for Obese Women: A Group Leader's Handbook; Julia Buckroyd, et al.
Kay Tang is a journalist who has been writing since 1990. She previously covered developments in theater for the "Dramatists Guild Quarterly." Tang graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in economics and political science from Yale University and completed a Master of Professional Studies in interactive telecommunications at New York University.