How much exercise should I do?

Studies show that even the most inactive people can gain significant health benefits if they accumulate just 30 minutes or more of physical activity per day.

For the greatest overall health benefits, experts suggest 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise three or more times per week, plus some form of anaerobic exercise, such as muscle-strengthening activity and stretching twice a week.

If you have been inactive for a while, you may want to start with less strenuous activities, such as walking or swimming at a comfortable pace. Beginning at a slow pace will allow you to become physically fit without straining your body. Once you are in better shape, you can gradually do more strenuous activity.

How can I lose weight and then prevent gaining it back?

Keep the following tips in mind.

  • Set realistic weight loss goals, such as a one- to two-pound weight loss per week. Those who lose weight slowly, by eating less and exercising more, tend to keep their lost weight off. Even a half pound weight loss per week would result in a 25-pound loss over one year.
  • Eat fewer calories by cutting down on portion sizes. An easy way to portion a plate is to put fruits and vegetables on half, starch on one quarter of the plate, and protein on the other quarter of the plate.
  • Aim for at least five handfuls of fruits and vegetables per day.
  • Do not skip meals. This slows down metabolism and can lead to increased hunger and binging. Four to five “mini-meals” regularly spaced throughout the day may help satisfy your hunger while keeping your weight under control.
  • Feel free to include planned, healthy snacks between meals if you find you struggle with physical hunger during the day. Some examples would be fat-free Greek yogurt, cottage cheese and fruit, vegetables and hummus, string cheese and fresh fruit, or a palm full of nuts.
  • Choose foods high in fiber, such as whole grain breads, cereals, pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables. These foods will give you more chewing satisfaction, while the higher fiber content may make you feel fuller on fewer calories.
  • To ensure that you are eating healthy, keep an accurate food journal. Write down everything you eat or drink. Be honest and accurate, otherwise the journal is not as helpful. The food journal will help you learn about your eating habits and help you assess the food choices you are making.
  • Eat a variety of foods. Include all food groups to get all the nutrients you need.
  • Limit restaurant foods.
  • Plan ahead: plan meals for the week, create a grocery list, and keep healthy foods available to you in your kitchen and pantry. Keep trigger foods out of the house and office.