Guest Author - Terri Lindy Johansen
Obesity affects nearly one third of adults in the U.S. today. Exercise can help to treat obesity by burning excess calories stored as fat in the body. Too many excess calories stored for long periods of time create obesity. Exercising regularly helps burn up some of the excess fat.
Obesity is can be determined by your BMI (Body Mass Index). Your BMI is a calculation of your weight in relation to your height. The higher your BMI the greater the probability that you are obese or are heading in that direction.
Take a look at your waist, in particular belly fat. This is an indicator that you may be storing too much abdominal fat. Researchers state that a waist measured as greater than 40 inches for men or 35 inches for women can indicate obesity or a high risk.
Obesity is the main cause of many serious health problems including: heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and cancer. The objective of treatment for obesity is losing weight. Exercise can play a vital role in the fight against obesity and is crucial to any weight-loss program. There are many benefits of exercise beyond burning calories such as:
•Increase your metabolism
•Improve heart and lung function
•Increase your self-control
•Improve your appearance
•Suppress your appetite
Starting and maintaining an exercise program is hard and even harder for the obese. Movement can be restricted so certain activities are off limits. Self-image can be terrifying to an obese person going to work out in a gym. You want significant results quickly; however it will be a long slow road. No one wants to hear that so what’s the point in starting?
•Begin with your mind-set. The mental work is often harder than the exercise itself. Tell yourself every day that anything is possible.
•You may feel paralyzed by the many exercise options and what is best for you. Start with something very simple, walk 10-15 minutes every day and you will be starting a healthy habit for life.
•Your body will begin to burn some of those long stored fat cells and you will be on your way to a healthier lifestyle.
•Don’t set your goals too high. You will get better results if you start slow and constant to help increase your endurance.
•Often with obesity you have trouble breathing. Exercise can increase that problem. Go slow and breathe easy at whatever pace you can even if it is just 5 minutes on the treadmill at 2 mph. Every little bit of exercise counts.
Researchers studying obesity have determined a trend. It is that inactivity instead of overeating may be the cause of an increase in obesity. National health surveys found huge increases in obesity and inactivity, however not in the overall number of calories consumed. Dr. Uri Ladabaum, associate professor of gastroenterology at Stanford University and lead author of these studies states: “what struck us the most was just how dramatic the change in leisure-time physical activity was. Although we cannot draw conclusions about cause and effect from our study, our findings support the notion that exercise and physical activity are important determinants of the trends in obesity.”
Obesity is not merely a problem of overeating and lack of exercise. It goes beyond such simplicity and has deep roots in a variety of social and economic forces. Managing Editor of The American Journal of Medicine, Pamela Powers Hannley, MPH states this example: “the struggle of single mothers who are trying to balance work and child care. They may lack the time or resources to exercise. We shouldn’t assume that people are just lazy. Their lives might be overwhelming to them.”
Always visit a medical professional before starting any type of exercise, especially in the case of obesity. Exercise, be active, and live well.
ACSM Fit Society
National Institutes of Health
Stanford’s Department of Medicine
The American Journal of Medicine