Regular exercise is necessary to achieve good results. Research studies recommend a minimum of 30 minutes of aerobic exercise at least five days a week, so try to pick something you enjoy doing. Enlisting the help and support of friends and family can also help to keep you motivated.
Remember to check with your doctor before starting any new exercise regime.
Benefits of exercise
Exercise can prevent heart disease and stroke by:
- Strengthening the heart muscle
- Lowering blood pressure
- Lowering cholesterol
- Improving circulation.
Exercise can also help you to:
- Preserve muscle mass
- Increase muscle strength
- Increase your endurance
- Obesity is increasing rapidly
In Ireland the level of obesity is increasing rapidly. There are many factors that contribute to obesity, and one of the key issues is physical activity levels, or more precisely, the lack of them
Obesity is the medical term used to describe the state of being overweight to the point where it is harmful to your health. Being overweight is not the same as being obese. A person is not considered to be obese unless they weigh 20% or more over the maximum desirable weight for their height.
The degree of obesity is calculated using a measurement called the Body Mass Index or BMI. BMI examines the amount of extra weight a person is carrying in relation to their height. The World Health Organisation defines obesity as a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or more. A person with a BMI of between 20 and 24.9 is considered healthy and the risk of developing conditions such as diabetes is minimum. A BMI of 25-30 is considered overweight and the risk to health is increased.
Obesity has a number of health risks associated with it. It carries a higher risk of developing conditions such as type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, osteoarthritis (wearing away of the joints) and sleep apnoea (interrupted breathing during sleep).
The calorie intake of Irish people today is broadly the same as 20 years ago, but activity levels have dropped off. The way in which society has changed means that everything is now done for us. We don’t even have to roll down our car windows anymore, we simply press a button. When we enter a building, we rarely have to use stairs because of lifts.
Activities that were commonplace 20 years ago, like walking to school, are not possible today. People need to replace these activities with new ones.
The nature of food is different today. Convenience undoubtedly plays a huge role in people’s choice, as indicated by the ever-expanding range of ‘ready meals’ now available, as well as the plethora of fast-food restaurants which continue to pop up.
Most weight-reduction diets will involve reducing your intake of high fat foods and sugary foods like fried food and confectionary, while increasing your intake of fruit and vegetables.
Research also suggests the use of foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) – foods that release their energy more slowly. Low GI foods include wholegrain breads, porridge, pasta and rice. The research suggests these foods make it easier to lose weight than the more refined white bread and refined breakfast cereals.
Overall the diet should be healthy and well balanced.
Anyone who has ever tried to stay on a diet for any length of time will know that two very significant factors are willpower and motivation. Changing the habits of a lifetime is difficult. Identifying the triggers which make you over-eat, or eat the wrong foods, is a very important part of changing your lifestyle.
Working on methods to avoid these triggers is what behaviour modification is all about. Many people find that keeping a diary of what they eat, when they eat and why they eat is very helpful in identifying times when they are most at risk of straying from good eating habits.
Rewarding yourself (with a non-food item) when you have been successful in losing weight can also help to keep your motivation level up.
If you are obese or overweight and trying to lose that weight, don’t think of it as ‘dieting’. Think of making small changes to your daily eating habits. The key to losing the weight and keeping it off is making gradual changes to your eating and exercise habits, which are simple, enjoyable and sustainable!