The health benefits of exercise are extensive, and improving your physical fitness is certainly a worthwhile goal.
However, despite all the claims made by fitness gurus, it’s a scientific fact that weight loss is mainly achieved through diet. Exercise has a fairly limited impact on obesity.
Focus on a diet designed for weight loss
Simply put, when it comes to losing weight, your primary focus should be on what you eat.
While a general rule of thumb suggests weight loss is 75% diet and 25% exercise – recent studies have shown that the reality is it’s more than 90% based on diet.
But think carefully before you embark on any new eating pattern. Low carb diets have become increasingly popular with the promise of fast weight loss. However, these diets can be difficult to stick to and offer short-term benefits.
If you’re looking for long-term results, it’s more sensible to develop a healthy eating plan that includes plenty of fruit and vegetables with lean proteins and whole grain carbs.
Aim for a sensible calorie intake
If you cut down on calories too much, you run the risk of slowing down your metabolism and losing muscle density.
The NHS has devised a healthy eating plan that aims to help you lose weight at a safe rate of 0.5kg to 1kg (1lb to 2lb) each week with a healthy daily calorie allowance. The recommended calorie limit for men is no more than 1900 kcal a day, and 1400 kcal for most women.
The health benefits of exercise
While your focus should be on a diet designed to achieve weight loss, there are still plenty of excellent reasons to exercise. Improved sleep, healthier blood pressure, and better mental health are just a few of the benefits of keeping fit.
To stay healthy, the NHS recommends adults try to be active every day and achieve at least 150 minutes of physical activity over a week through a variety of activities.
Try to incorporate different types of exercise such as aerobic, strength and balance by doing various forms of activities including walking, running, swimming, yoga or going to the gym.
So, exercise is good for your brain and your body. It can improve your mood, is good for bones and muscles and lowers the risk of disease. What’s more it’s free!
Combine healthy eating with regular exercise
While the health benefits of keeping fit are clear, it’s important to have realistic expectations when it comes to the impact of exercise on weight loss. I’m afraid you can’t expect to lose much weight just by increasing your physical activity.
However, studies have shown that exercise does help you to keep the weight off. Therefore, it’s definitely worth increasing your levels of physical activity at the same time as embarking on a healthy eating diet plan.
The combination of the two will support an effective long-term weight management lifestyle.
There is nothing new in recommending diet and exercise for health:
“If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health”
Hippocrates (born 460 BCE)
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