Exercise is GREAT for your health. But is it useful for fat-loss?

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There are many benefits to exercising regularly.

You can gain strength, build muscle tone, enhance flexibility, increase stamina, have a feeling of general well-being, and help your heart health. 

However, exercise alone will not produce large amounts of weight loss.

The reason for this is a pretty straight-forward math problem. The number of calories that need to be burned to reduce weight substantially is tremendous. But, the amount of calories burned from exercise that most of us can do is…. not. For example, running or walking 2 kilometers only burns about a banana’s worth of calories. So, exercise is good, but it is not a magic bullet for weight loss for most of us. On the other hand, a dietary plan can reduce your calorie intake by 500 calories per day, and can do so without severe side effects if designed by a trained health professional.

If you are able-bodied and have the time and resources to exercise, however, it can be a helpful  complement to a dietary weight loss program. Exercise can, for example, bump your body’s energy deficit from 500 to 700 calories on the days you manage to exercise. It can also help you maintain your muscle mass while you are losing weight. Maintaining muscle mass will help to keep your metabolism up as you lose weight, and maintain the overall function of your body.

It is important to choose a type of exercise that helps you instead of hurting you.

When you have a lot of excess weight, intensive exercises like jumping, skipping, or running quickly could hurt your body.  Instead, try walking at a comfortable pace on a level surface (not up and down or at an incline). Walking slowly will help you burn calories without taxing your system. 

A common misconception is that one must run or do vigorous exercises to produce weight loss. But, as you learned in physics (perhaps long ago), the calories you burn depend on the distance you walk, not the speed. Walking 2 kilometers would burn as many calories as running or jogging the same distance.  To benefit the most from your exercise, focus on increasing your distance, instead of walking speed. Walking at a comfortable pace allows you to more easily lengthen your distance. When you combine your exercise with a suitable diet, you can lose weight.

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