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Healthy Weight Center

Why Is Exercise Important in Losing Weight?

03/11/2009

Question:

I would like to know why exercise is an important factor in losing weight and staying health?

Answer:

Your question is a very important one--Why is exercise an important factor for weight loss and for general health? There are many benefits of exercise. We know exercise increases energy, helps in coping with stress, improves ability to fall asleep and sleep soundly, strengthens the heart, builds stamina for other physical activities, improves the efficiency of your heart and cardiovascular system, improves self-image, burns calories, controls appetite, and tones muscles. (How`s that for a list of benefits. And there are many more.) In addition, those with existing health conditions such as heart disease, high blood pressure and diabetes can benefit from exercise. Exercise has been linked with reducing and controlling risk factors related to the conditions mentioned above as well as decreasing cigarette smoking and aiding in weight management. Exercise and weight management, both weight loss and long-term weight maintenance, need to go hand in hand. Exercise`s role in weight management is three-fold: 1.) Exercise burns calories. Weight loss is produced when calories out( metabolic rate and physical activity) exceeds calories in (calories eaten). Calories Out (metabolic rate + physical activity)> Calories In Physical activity (cardiovascular exercises such as walking, biking, aerobics, swimming ...)is an important part of the "calories out" side of the equation. Many people look at just the "calories in" side of the equation to achieve their weight loss goals. By addressing the "calories out" side of the equation also, the scale can be tipped even more towards weight loss. Weight loss is more effective when both sides of the equation are addressed. 2.) Increasing muscle mass increases metabolic rate. Activities which increase muscle mass are strength training exercises also known as resistive training or anaerobic exercise. Increasing muscle mass makes you a better calorie- burning machine. When you increase your metabolic rate, you continue to increase the "calories out" side of the equation. 3.) Add to the two benefits above all the benefits mentioned in the first paragraph. What a powerful thing exercise is! Not to mention that physical activity is the #1 determinant of long-term weight maintenance. It is important that before beginning an exercise program, you discuss it with your doctor. Then seek guidance from a knowledgeable professional (such as an exercise physiologist or certified personal trainer) to guide you in creating an effective exercise plan.

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Response by:

Tracy Butler Coe, RD, LD Tracy Butler Coe, RD, LD
Sports Nutritionist
Department of Nutrition
The Ohio State University