In a previous blog, we discussed how difficult it is to maintain weight loss, and that one of the key strategies used most successfully by long-term weight losers is to exercise about an hour per day. The same, by the way, goes for losing weight in the first place. You need to exercise for about an hour per day to burn enough calories to have a significant impact on weight loss. Of course, the more elements of a healthy lifestyle you add to your daily routine – good sleep, reduced stress, healthy diet, avoidance of toxic exposures, and others – the more effective your weight loss efforts will be.
But, you may ask, how practical is it to spend an hour every day “working out?” Don’t you already have way too much to do without adding even more “chores,” especially ones you don’t particularly look forward to doing?
Well, without diving too deeply into the motivation discussion – how important is living long and well to you really? – let’s focus, instead, on how practical it is to exercise for that hour each day.
First off, exercise doesn’t have to be a knock-down, drag-out affair to be effective. Walking at a moderate pace – 3.0 to 3.5 mph (about a mile in 20 minutes or a little less) – is enough for most people. Your heart rate quickens a little, and you breathe a little harder. You probably won’t want to do this in high heels; but you also don’t need a sweat suit, running flats, and a shower afterwards.
So, it doesn’t have to be a “big deal” or annoyingly disruptive to a normal life. But the question then is: when do you do it? Not surprisingly, the answer varies according to the specifics of the life you lead. Some people like to set aside an hour during the day, and get their exercise done and over with. For some, early in the morning, before getting swept up in the day’s activities, works best. Others prefer late in the afternoon in the slot between the end of the workday and dinner. If you happen to be retired, then you have even more flexibility in your choices.
An effective alternative to the all-in-one-shot approach is to break up your exercise into three 15-20 minute walks following breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If you do this within 15 minutes of finishing your meals, you get the additional benefit of cutting your after-meal insulin spike in half and giving your weight-loss efforts a significant boost. It’s also an incredibly pleasant experience, whether you do it alone or share your walk with someone who can share your thoughts. Try it, you’ll like it!