Losing weight means changing behaviors in your everyday life. Some kind of physical activity should be incorporated into your day. Exercise not only helps you lose weight, but it can also improve the health of your cardiovascular, digestive, metabolic, nervous and respiratory systems. If you are following the Weight Watchers program, you are already taking one step toward a healthier you. Adding exercise to your program can help you excel.
Aerobic exercise is any physical activity that is sustainable over a long period of time. There is a dose-response relationship between duration of exercise and weight loss. Perform aerobic exercise at least five days per week for at least 30 minutes per session. Activities like walking, jogging, hiking, bicycling or swimming are effective ways to burn fat and calories.
Resistance training involves working with weights. Do this type of exercise two to three days per week with at least 24 hours of rest between sessions. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, you should do eight to 10 resistance exercises that work all of the major muscle groups. Work up to performing three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions at a moderate intensity. Ideally, you should be lifting weights to fatigue, meaning that at the end of your last set, you should feel unable to perform another repetition.
The Weight Watchers program suggests monitoring the intensity of exercise using your heart rate or the rating of perceived exertion method. You can determine your maximum heart rate by deducting your age from 220. Then use a percentage of your maximum heart rate to dictate exercise intensity. Low intensity would be 40 to 45 percent of max heart rate; 55 to 69 percent is moderate intensity, and 70 percent or higher is high intensity. The rating of perceived exertion method allows you to decide the intensity of exercise based on how it feels to you. Exercise should fall into low-, moderate- or high-intensity categories based on your perceptions.
Benefits and Considerations
Any exercise is better than none. However, when done regularly, exercise can improve fitness and health. If you are just starting to exercise after a previously sedentary lifestyle, you may want to start off with a shorter duration and intensity than recommended and increase as your fitness level dictates. Before starting any new exercise program, always get clearance from your doctor. He can tell you if there are any precautions you should take based on your medical history.