Exercise helps you lose weight by burning calories. Regular physical activity revs up your metabolism so that your body burns calories faster even when you aren't exercising. If you and your doctor are planning an exercise regimen to help you lose weight, it's important to take into account key factors that will help you exercise the right way to maximize weight loss and decrease the risk of injury or illness.
1. Intensity/Duration of Exercise
Your body stores excess calories as fat; therefore, to work off those extra pounds, you need to burn more calories than you consume by engaging in some level of physical activity. Research suggests that even low-intensity exercise is beneficial and can lead to weight loss. But it isn't just about the intensity of exercise. The amount of exercise you get counts too.
Although you burn more fat during a low-intensity workout, you burn more calories overall during an intense workout. Consequently, you burn more fat calories during the same duration of exercise. Also, your metabolic rate remains slightly elevated for a few hours following vigorous exercise, which means you continue to burn calories.
If high-intensity exercise isn't for you because of age, a health condition, or physical disability, low-intensity exercise can still get your heart rate up enough to burn calories, yet puts you at less risk of injury. Exercising too intensely or for too long can lead to overuse injuries and increase the amount of stress hormones your body produces. Either physical or emotional stress can cause the body to release too much cortisol, which can have a negative impact on your weight by increasing your appetite.
2. Muscle Mass
If you've been exercising regularly and then stop, your muscles won't turn to fat, but they can shrink. Lack of physical activity whether due to age, lifestyle, disease, or injury can lead to muscle atrophy. It takes time, but if you aren't active, unused muscles can begin to waste away. While decreased muscle mass may lead to some weight loss, it's also a sign that your body has become less efficient at burning fat.
Regular strength training exercise builds muscle, which increases your metabolism and your body's ability to burn fat. But when you discontinue a strength training program, you can lose muscle mass and gain fat without the number of pounds you weigh changing.
Sweating more doesn't burn fat. What sweating does is cool the body when exercise increases your body temperature. By sweating more profusely during exercise, you lose fluids from the body, which is reflected in your weight. But the effect is only temporary. Once you rehydrate following exercise and replace the fluids your body has lost, you regain the weight.
Overheating your body during exercise can actually work against you. You need to keep your body hydrated so that it can burn fat tissue efficiently. Becoming dehydrated during intense exercise also makes your heart work harder, which can bring on a heart attack.
When you don't drink enough water, the blood gets too thick. The strain of pumping thick blood during heavy exercise can damage the heart. Less blood volume also makes it more difficult for the heart to pump blood past any blockage in the arteries.
4. Amount of Exercise
The more you exercise, the more you benefit. Right? It sounds reasonable, but more exercise is not always better. If you go to the extreme with exercise, you begin to burn muscle tissue instead of fat tissue, making it harder for your body to recover. You also need muscle tissue to burn more calories. Like aerobic exercise, strength training increases your metabolism.
However, your body needs time between intense workouts to repair muscle tears and build new muscle tissue. If you continue to hurt for days following a workout, your body is telling you it needs to rest. Signs you may be exercising too much include:
Loss of appetite
Feeling tired all the time
Increase in your resting heart rate
More body fat despite weight loss
For more information, contact Figure Weight Loss or a similar organization.