It seems that everyone is talking about diets lately. Dr. Phil is on the Today Show and people here at KCBD are doing Weight Watchers. This is really very good, but there isn't much talk about keeping it off once the weight lost. That is almost impossible without the other piece of the puzzle of weight control-exercise.
This is a universal problem, it seems. 72% of women and 69% of men report they get no regular exercise. This is in spite of the fact that regular exercise may reduce our risk of heart disease, type-2 diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers. If exercise came in the shape of a pill, we would be lined up and willing to pay almost any price for it.
Dr. Phil writes that we should include "intentional" exercise in our daily routine. Others talk of making it a daily habit, just like brushing our teeth. Whatever we call it, the evidence is piling up that exercise is essential for health and well being.
Just out in the Journal of the American Medical Association are two studies that may provide some motivation to get moving. The first, out of Seattle looked at the exercise habits of 74,000 postmenopausal women. Physically active women had 18% lower risk of developing breast cancer than their sedentary peers.
What was this magic exercise? The equivalent of 75 to 180 minutes of brisk walking or one hour and 15 minutes to three hours of walking. Notice there were no fancy exercise programs, no expensive machines. Just activity.
The good news continues. Even if these women were taking hormones, they were less likely to develop breast cancer.
The other study assigned overweight women to different levels of exercise combined with a diet of 1,200 to 1,500 calories per day. All the groups in the study lost a significant amount of weight and it did not matter whether they participated in either strenuous or moderate exercise.
Women who exercised 200 minutes or more per week lost 13.6% of their weight.
The most important lesson in these studies is the need for consistent exercise. Daily is best and an hour the ideal duration. The key is to make this a habit or "intentional" exercise.
Start slowly. It takes time to put a habit in place. This week, walk 15 minutes a day. Increase the time by five minutes per week until you reach an hour. If you miss a day now and then, do not give up. Just pick up where you left off.
It is in your power to reduce your risk of heart disease, diabetes, stroke, and cancer. Don't you think that is worth the effort?