Exercise and weight loss are keys to a new you in 2017

Date Published: 
Jan. 13, 2016

With every new year come resolutions to get in shape and lose weight. Will this be the year that you stick to your guns and make it happen? Let’s look at why this year a new you could make a world of difference in your health and quality of life.

The National Institutes of Health’s NHLBI (National Heart Lung & Blood Institute) says about 55 percent of adults have been found to be overweight or obese.

The cost of being overweight cuts across virtually every aspect of your body’s health. It puts you at greater risk of a number of serious health problems and chronic diseases including cancer, diabetes, heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure and pulmonary disease. And that’s just a small sample. I could fill this whole article with health problems associated with excess weight.

Did you know that when you keep your weight down and stay physically active that you can reduce the risk of osteoporosis and falling? Did you know that the combination of exercise and weight loss can reduce the pain or arthritis and have a really positive impact on reducing the disabilities that often come with arthritis? And did you know that the symptoms associated with anxiety and depression are reduced?

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) has taken a look at a large number of studies, and they tell us that when you are working on losing weight, the addition of more physical activity will pump up the number of calories your body uses for fuel or energy.

Now, this isn’t news. We all get it. When you are more active, you burn more calories, so you are using up more of what you stored up. But, what you might not understand is that physical activity is also key to maintaining your weight. When you don’t stay active, you may not be eating more, but the weight will pile on.

The obvious questions that you’re probably asking are: So, if I am determined to make a change, how do I go about getting on a diet that will work for me and how much exercise do I need?

The first thing you need to do is talk to your doctor before starting any diet and exercise plan. You need to go to your doctor with a list of all your medicines and the dosages you take written down, along with any supplements, including vitamins. If your regular doctor is unaware of specialists you may be seeing for health issues, bring that information with you, too.

Have there been any changes to your health? Have you noticed any vision changes? Do you have any changes in memory? How about any new feelings of anxiety or depression? You need to share every single detail of your health profile with your medical professional to be sure your doctor can give you the best possible advice to get you on your way to a healthier, happier you.

Since cutting calories is important, you need to choose a diet plan that makes sense for your daily lifestyle and needs, including your health needs.

There are some key considerations to keep in mind when making your choice: Make sure that the diet you choose has a selection of foods from the major food groups. It should include such important ingredients as fruits and vegetables, grains, protein that is lean, and dairy products that are low in fats.

Be honest with yourself. You have to make sure the diet includes the kinds of foods you would like to eat daily. Make sure it includes your favorites, since you can eat anything as long as you keep the frequency of how often you eat that favorite and the size to small portions on higher-fat foods.

It’s important because this is changing how you eat for a lifetime, not just for a few months.

Be practical about your selections. You need to be sure that the foods that you need for your diet are easy for you to get at a local grocery store. You also want to make sure the diet you choose makes sense for your budget and how you live. If it doesn’t fit into your lifestyle, then you are asking for frustration and another diet failure.

Don’t go with a crash diet. It needs to be well-balanced, with the right ingredients and proper number of calories, to make it not only effective, but safe.

Remember that, whatever you choose, activity has to be a part of the plan. The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has recommendations that you can use to get a bit of a handle on what you need to look at when thinking about the physical activity portion of your plan. It says you should combine aerobic exercise and strength training.

Like dieting, one-size-fits-all just won’t work when it comes to a plan for physical activity. You need a plan that takes into account your health and any potential mobility issues, as well as your safety.

When you talk to your doctor, don’t be surprised to hear that it is a good idea to do a supervised exercise program, like the one we offer here at Tidewater Physical Therapy. The idea is to have people who are qualified health professionals with the specific experience and expertise that will allow them to work with you to put together a customized plan for your needs.

These are highly supervised, so you get the kind of protection that will allow you the peace of mind that comes with a safe environment, the encouragement of professionals who can help you work through the tough times and the support of other folks just like you to help keep you going.

Programs like these grow with you as you advance because of professionals who plan it out with you, so you are getting the maximum benefits. Keep in mind when you are investigating these programs that you shouldn’t have to break the bank. They should be budget-friendly, so if they’re not, keep looking.

Your exercise program should include warm-ups, such as stretching and a variety of movements aimed at preparing you to exercise and increase your heart rate for the benefit of your physical health.

Other activities, such as walking, biking, swimming laps, hiking, dancing or jogging, will add variety and should be based on what you will enjoy doing and what makes sense for your physical condition. Maybe you will enjoy pickleball or maybe you like golf.

All of these elements come together to form a plan that can work for you. Keep in mind that 3,500 calories equals about 1 pound of fat, and it takes some work to burn calories. You should aim to get to a point where you engage in exercise for a good hour a day at least five times a week. With the proper plan, you’ll see that varying the intensity of the exercise and being consistent about exercise is what will get those calories burning.

It all comes down to this. There are lots of options available to you, but it’s up to you. Whether it’s a few pounds or you have a serious amount of excess pounds, you know if you need to lose weight. There’s a good chance you’ve tried to lose weight before and you’ve gotten frustrated.

I get it. It can be frustrating, but you have to try again. Your health is at stake, and you have just one life to live. You know the old saying about would have, could have, should have? You can, so get going and make an investment in you. You’re worth it!

Bob Cairo is a licensed physical therapist at Tidewater Physical Therapy. He can be reached by calling (302) 537-7260.