Is a little exercise an effective way to lose weight?
We’ve all heard the advice: take the stairs instead of the lift, get off the bus a stop earlier or park the car a few streets away from work, and push the vacuum around the living room or the mower around the lawn for a good workout.
But does adding a few short bursts of exercise to your day really make a difference?
While any increase in physical activity is a good thing provided you work within your own limits, whether it will help you achieve your goal depends on what your goals are.
If you want to improve your overall fitness and reduce your risk of developing conditions such as heart disease or diabetes, then introducing small, regular bouts of physical activity into your daily life can help. It may keep some of that dreaded age-related weight gain at bay, and may even help you to lose a few pounds if you make the effort to move about more than normal.
But while chasing the kids around the park or switching your weekly grocery shop from home delivery to self-service at the checkouts will certainly help get your blood pumping a few times a week, if you are looking to go from fat to fit or from couch potato to beach body, you will need to go the extra mile.
Think about people you know who have a physical job or lots of children to keep track of – being busy or active alone doesn’t automatically make you – or keep you – fit.
Cardiovascular exercise such as running, swimming or cycling is a great way to improve your fitness and stamina, as well as being an effective way to lose weight. If your chosen exercise is weight-bearing, it will also help maintain bone density.
But for maximum benefits, you need to do it for 10 minutes or more – ideally 30 minutes at a time. If you want to build muscle, you will need to introduce weight or resistance training.
Finally, to improve and maintain flexibility, stretching exercises such as yoga are ideal.
Most fitness experts agree that a combination of these types of exercise offers the best all-round training for improving overall fitness and losing weight, because not only does cardiovascular exercise burn fat, but extra muscle burns more fat, even while you are resting, helping you to keep the weight off in the long run.
So keep taking the stairs and shunning the bus where you can, but remember to get your trainers on a few times a week, too!
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