In the ongoing debate of whether someone can be overweight and be healthy, one thing is clear: Being active and incorporating intentional exercise into your lifestyle is going to positively contribute to your quality of life as you age. It may or may not help you live longer, but then who wants to live until the age of 150 if you're strapped to a wheelchair and feeding tube?
The body and mind are so tightly inter-connected that regular, intentional exercise improves mood, quality of sleep, decreases stress and the risk of disease. What I have also found intriguing is that as individuals become more active, their bodies start to crave healthier options. Don't be surprised if you start craving broccoli or salmon once you incorporate activity into your day.
Your body was meant to move; treat your body well now, and it will return the favor as you age.
1) Do What You Like
One of the most popular questions I get is: "Which exercise is best?" or "Which exercise will burn the most calories?" The answer is both simple but sometimes elusive. The exercise that is best, or that will burn the most calories is the exercise that you enjoy; the one that that will keep you engaged so that you will do it for a longer period of time.
For people who enjoy being outside, running on a treadmill in a gym may be EXCRUCIATINGLY boring - so don't do it - find something that you enjoy & do it.
There are so many options out there for so many different personality types. Are you social? Maybe group training is good for you. If you don't like being tied to someone else's schedule individual sports could be the ticket. If you're competitive, signing up for races or competitions will keep you motivated & wanting to improve in your sport. The idea here is that you find something that you like to do: walking, running, bootcamps, swimming, rowing, CrossFit, Karate, Mixed Martial Arts, Yoga, Pilates, Golf, Tennis. Whatever your likes & dislikes there are TONS of options out there, so something will fit!
Don't know what you'd like? Here are some quizzes that can help:
When you're doing an activity that you enjoy, it's easy to stick with it. You'll create goals around getting better & therefore increasing your adherence. Creating & meeting those goals will help with your self esteem & help you push harder. It's a total win.
NEAT is an acronym for Non-Exercise Activity Thermogenisis. NEAT is the number of calories that you burn through unintentional exercise or movement: doing laundry, making dinner, cleaning up, showering, walking from your car to the store, etc.
When I first got my bodybugg about a year ago, it was eye opening! I had thought that I was much more active than I was. It was clear to me why I wasn't losing the weight that I wanted to through food journaling alone. Soon, I was burning calories much more easily because I was moving more. I didn't want to see the tiny little lines in the graph representing 1 calorie per minute - I wanted to see activity.
Using the bodybugg became a game to me - every day I wanted to do better than the day before. If you don't want to get a bodybugg, there are other options out there; get a pedometer or a heart rate monitor. Daily or weekly, try to increase your steps for the day, and chart it yourself. WARNING: If you do get a pedometer though, don't get a cheap one - spend at least $10; it will be more accurate. btw - the guideline for daily steps is 10,000, which roughly translates to 5 miles.
3) Doing Something Trumps Doing Nothing
Calories are calories & the formula for calorie balance is calories in versus calories out. Want to lose weight? Burn more calories than you consume. It's really no more complicated than that.
That said, there were times when I would talk myself out of going for a shorter run because I didn't have the time to do a longer run. That doesn't make sense - does it? It ties back to the talk on Motivation; banish "All or Nothing Thinking". It doesn't serve you & your goals to think "well, if I can't make my goal 100%, why even do part?" Just do something; you'll feel better about yourself if you do.
Additionally, fitness experts used to think that it would take 10 minutes of exercise before the body started to burn fat stores. Current thinking debunks this theory & exercise is just as beneficial at three 10 minute intervals as it would be for a continuous 30 minutes. Every little bit of exercise & activity adds up.