Since exercise is only 20% of weight loss, you could technically lose weight without doing any exercise. I firmly believe that anyone who can exercise should do so. Besides helping with weight loss, it has a number of other health and psychological benefits. It reduces stress and anxiety and improves your mood, it gives you more energy, it reduces blood pressure, improves cholesterol levels, prevents diabetes, strength training helps build stronger bones, AND, you can get away with eating more while still losing weight if you’re torching calories. So, with that said, where should you start?
Just like with your eating habits, start small with exercise, especially if you’ve never been physically active. Don’t jump into a program like Insanity or P90x – you have a greater risk of injuring yourself and overtraining if you’ve never been physically active. Take it easy at first, go for a walk or something low impact. As for strength training, I’m all for heavy weights, but light weights are better for beginners to at least get the form down. Once you understand proper form, then move on to heavy weights. When a workout becomes too easy, it’s time to increase the intensity!
You DO have to time to exercise. If you’re pressed for time, divide your workout into 10-15 minute segments throughout the day. You’ll still get the same benefits if your heart rate is up for at least 10 minutes. Aim for 3-4 cardio sessions and full-body strength training sessions. Be sure to give your body enough time to recover after each session.
Find forms of exercise that you enjoy that you can stick with. If you don’t like it, you won’t stick with it. This takes some trial and error. If you have a gym membership, most gyms include classes for free. Try something new, like Zumba, Yoga, Pilates; who knows, you might find something you never thought you’d enjoy. If you don’t have a gym membership, there are tons of free workouts on YouTube (I’m currently doing Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown on YouTube). SparkPeople also has great beginners workouts – everything from basic stretching routines to kickboxing.
If you’re interested in running, try a program like Couch-to-5k. Make sure to invest in a good pair of running shoes! Find a specialty running store for a proper shoe fitting.
Here are some useful links for free workout videos:
Jillian Michaels’ Yoga Meltdown: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q5nyrD4eM64
BeFit YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/BeFit?feature=fvstc
SparkPeople YouTube channel: http://www.youtube.com/user/sparkpeople