According to the American Heart Association, nearly 155 million Americans are overweight or obese.1 If your body mass index (BMI) is 25 or higher, you might find it difficult to participate in activities you enjoy, feel joint pain when you walk, or have trouble sleeping. In addition, extra weight puts you at risk for serious health problems, including:2
- Heart disease
- High blood pressure (hypertension)
- Liver disease
- Osteoarthritis, which causes swelling, stiffness, and pain in the joints
- Some cancers such as breast, colon, kidney, and endometrial
- Type 2 diabetes
Luckily, there are steps you can take to lose weight safely, improve your health, and stay healthy. In addition to eating a healthy diet, managing stress, getting enough sleep, and exercising can help you achieve your weight loss and overall health goals. Talk with your doctor about your ideal weight. Remember that even a little weight loss can help. For example, dropping 10 pounds can lower your risk of heart disease.3
ONCE YOU HAVE A TARGET WEIGHT AND YOUR DOCTOR APPROVES YOU FOR EXERCISING, FOLLOW THESE TIPS:
- Start slowly
- You didn’t gain those extra pounds overnight and you won’t lose them quickly either
- Gradually build up to an activity level your doctor recommends and that optimizes your weight loss
- Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity at least 5 days a week
- Find an activity you enjoy such as walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling
- Muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week can you additional health benefits4
- You do not have to complete all 30 minutes of exercise at one time. Research shows you can get the same benefit if you exercise 2 or 3 times a day for 10 to 15 minutes
- Know your target heart rate
- For your maximum heart rate, subtract your age from 220. During exercise, you should stay between 50 percent and 85 percent of your maximum heart rate, which is your target heart rate
- Know approximately how many calories you burn when you engage in different activities5
- If you weigh 200 pounds, you can burn approximately 312 calories per hour while cycling 6 miles per hour
- Increasing your speed in activity will burn more calories; for example, cycling at 12 miles per hour can help you burn approximately 534 calories an hour
- Exercise at the same time each day so that it becomes part of your routine
- Wear comfortable, properly fitting sneakers when you exercise
- Wear loose-fitting clothing that matches the weather and your activity
- Exercise with a buddy to make the time go faster and enjoy yourself
- Track your exercise and your weight loss on a calendar or phone app
- Write down the activity, distance, and time you spent exercising
- Write down how you felt when you finished
Activity 100 lbs 150 lbs 200 lbs
Bicycling, 6 mph 160 calories 240 calories 312 calories
Bicycling, 12 mph 270 410 534
Running, 7 mph 610 920 1230
Running, 5.5 mph 440 660 962
Swimming, 25 yds/min 185 275 358
Swimming, 50 yds/min 325 500 650
Look for ways to be more active throughout your day, including walking the mall before visiting your favorite store, taking stairs instead of an elevator, and taking a 15-minute break from watching television to vacuum your house or garden. Every extra step you take can help bring you closer to your weight loss and overall health goals!
1. Go AS, Mozaffarian D, Roger VL, et al. On behalf of the American Heart Association Statistics Committee and Stroke Statistics Subcommittee. Heart disease and stroke statistics — 2013 update: a report from the American Heart Association. Circulation. 2013;127:e6-e245.
2. US Department of Health and Human Services. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Overweight and obesity statistics. National Institutes of Health Publication No. 04-4158. Updated October 2012. http://win.niddk.nih.gov/publications/PDFs/stat904z.pdf. Accessed May 27, 2014.
3. American Heart Association. Body mass index in adults (BMI calculator for adults). http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/WeightManagement/BodyMassIndex/Body-Mass-Index-In-Adults-BMI-Calculator-for-Acults_UCM_307849_Article.jsp. Accessed May 27, 2014.
4. American Heart Association. American Heart Association recommendations for physical activity in adults. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/American-Heart-Association-Recommendations-for-Physical-Activity-in-Adults_UCM_307976_Article.jsp. Accessed May 27, 2014.
5. American Heart Association. Moderate to vigorous – what is your level of intensity? http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/PhysicalActivity/FitnessBasics/Moderate-to-Vigorous—What-is-your-level-of-intensity_UCM_463775_Article.jsp.Accessed May 27, 2014.