Being overweight or obese puts you at risk for many diseases and conditions including coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, sleep apnoea, metabolic syndrome, breathing problem and certain cancers. In addition to physical problems, obesity also has a negative impact affecting personal relationships and professional success as well. People are considered overweight when their BMI exceeds 25 kg/meter square and obese when their BMI exceeds 30kg/meter square. Waist-hip circumference >0.9 for men and>1.0 for women are prime pointers to obesity.
Obesity is the result of many factors like following unhealthy dietary habits, lack of physical activity, stress, environment, family history and genetics. It is best to strategize how to lose weight through proper diet, adequate levels of physical activity and exercises.
When to Start: Adolescence, pregnancy, mid-life, post smoke cessation, are some of the phases when one is likely to gain weight and ideally this could be the best time to start exercising.
Types of Exercises: Exercises are planned in accordance with frequency, intensity, time, and type.
Frequency: 5-6 days/week for weight loss; 4-5 days/week for weight maintenance
Intensity: Moderate (jogging 12 miles/week) to vigorous (jogging 20 miles/week) level of exercises.
Moderate exercises promote the expenditure of large amount of fat and calories, consistent with achieving weight loss and fitness goals. Vigorous exercise is effective in expending calories and achieving fitness, performance and fat loss goals.
225-300 minutes/week to promote weight loss
200-300 minutes/week to prevent weight gain after weight loss
150-250 minutes/week for prevention of weight gain in a recent survey; it was observed that low level of self-reported recreational physical activity resulted in 3-fold greater risk of weight gain in men and 4-fold in women.
Types of Exercises: Aerobic exercises, resistance exercises, circuit training, interval training and yoga for weight loss.
Aerobic Exercises: Treadmill, cross trainer, recumbent bike, swimming, sprinting, brisk walking, jogging, running, cycling, gardening etc.
Resistance Training: Does not prevent the loss of fat but may enhance muscular strength and physical function.
Circuit Training: A high intensity ‘circuit’ like training using moderate weights switching them rapidly to complete one ‘exercise circuit’ within a short time. Aimed to enhance the strength and muscular endurance in the body.
Interval Training: Focuses on a series of low to high intensity exercise workouts interspersed with relief periods. Aimed at cardiovascular fitness.
Apart from routine exercises, simple activities keep the muscles working.
• Weight-bearing activities like lifting, pushing, climbing, speed jogging, walking, and playing intense sports like badminton, football, basketball and cricket.
• Other physical activities like cleaning the house, washing the car or gardening are simple time tested ways to keep moving and flexing your muscles and joints. Such activities do not need prior planning.
It is always best to remember that anything and everything that keeps one active and on one’s feet, even for a few minutes in a day, is a step towards staying fit. For the obese, exercise should play an essential role in losing weight and also weight maintenance.
Keep in Mind:
• Low intensity, long duration exercise is as good as high intensity, short duration exercise in expending calories. For the sedentary, overweight person, moderate intensity exercise is best if done for longer periods/session daily.
• Target minimal reduction of at least 5 to 10 per cent in body weight over a 3-6 month period.
• Change your eating and exercise behaviors, as sustained changes in both results in significant weight loss.
• Progress to higher amounts of exercise (200-300 min/week or >2,000 kcal/week of physical activity to promote long term weight control.
• Initial phase – low workloads for obese and overweight individuals.
• Musculoskeletal or orthopedic problems require special modifications in exercises for the obese.