Anyone who wants to lose weight has to focus on correct and healthy nutrition. Fact.
I’m afraid the pounds won’t melt away if you follow a diet of takeaways and lager! So whilst correct nutrition is obviously key, the very latest research from Norway has now identified that it’s exercise and not diet that’s the most important factor in the war against obesity.
In a study of over 900 children, the Norwegian researchers found that the overweight children ate LESS processed and high calorie foods such as burgers, sausages, biscuits, pizza and sweets than their slimmer counterparts. The Professor who led the project concluded that whilst diet was still an important factor in regulating weight, exercise was the MOST important factor.
Now I personally find this new research extremely interesting. You see I’m fed up with seeing miserable people. People whose lives have become dominated by food to such an extent that they can glance at a plate and tell you how many calories are in your meal before you’ve even picked up your knife and fork. They recount stories which centre around what they DON’T eat, rather than what they do eat and their diet and calorie focus runs and ruins their lives at the same time.
Now whilst I completely agree in adhering to a healthy nutrition plan, I have no time for calorie counting and all that rubbish. Because rubbish is exactly what it is. If you think I’m going to spend my life totting up my quota of calories at each and every meal, you’ve got another thing coming – it’s ridiculous. Before you know it they’ll be suggesting that you weigh your food out at each meal. Oh dear, too late – I think that one’s already happened!
Now I have a completely different focus and it’s a focus that my Team and I roll out with great success with our Personal Training Clients who are looking to lose weight. And that focus is to BURN more calories through exercise. That way you manage your weight and get a bucket-full of health benefits too. You see, I’ve got a weakness. In fact I’ve got a few weaknesses. I enjoy an occasional glass of wine. I’ve been known to partake in the odd square of chocolate. And sin of sins, I confess that the occasional dessert has passed my lips! But you know, by exercising regularly, I’m able to manage my weight with ease, in fact I’m able to manage my weight without thinking or worrying about it at all.
Now for all the serial dieters out there, wouldn’t it be fabulous to enjoy weight management without the constant calorie pressure? Without the miniscule portions and mental torture? You bet it would! Well it’s achievable through exercise because exercise burns calories. And of course the big question that I’m often asked is which exercise should I be doing? Or which is the best calorie burning exercise?
Well this week, I’m focusing on exactly those questions and providing easy-to-use solutions that you can use to manage your weight easily and effectively and without all the heartache of the ‘curse of the diet’.
1. What exercise should I be doing? And the answer is . . . any exercise! All exercise is good, all exercise burns calories and all exercise improves your health. If you’re currently sedentary then whatever activity you participate in will support your weight loss goals - the key factor is to start exercising.
2. Is there a ‘best type of exercise’? Yes. Whilst all exercise is both a calorie burner and beneficial for your health, as George Orwell might have said; ‘some exercises are more equal than others’! Remember that if you’re looking to lose weight, cardiovascular (CV) exercise is your best friend because it generally employs large muscle groups. By using large muscle groups, those muscles have a greater demand for energy, which in turn depletes your body’s fuel stores (fat and carbohydrate), resulting in weight loss.
3. How do I know which CV exercise is best? Well if we follow on from the need to use large muscle groups, the hand bike in the gym is less effective than the rowing machine. The hand bike uses the arms and shoulders – which are relatively small muscles, whereas the rowing machine also uses the arms but in addition, recruits the abdominals, back and the really big hitters – your legs. Hence both more muscles and bigger muscles are utilised with the rower than the hand bike so it’s a much better calorie burner. So carrying that theory forward, look to use the largest muscle groups (your legs include the quads, hamstrings, calves and even your glutes) and as many muscle groups as possible at the same time.
4. What other ways can I maximise my calorie burn? Consider this question. if you swim for 60 minutes and run for 60 minutes, which form of exercise requires the most fuel? The answer is running because for the entire 60 minutes, you’re having to support your own bodyweight, whereas when swimming, much of your weight is supported by the water and hence the load on your muscles is less. Not that swimming isn’t a good exercise, it is but remember, our criteria here is calorie burning. Additionally, running uses every leg muscle as well as the abdominals, back, shoulders and arms so it also scores top marks for the sheer volume of muscle groups employed – which again means more calories burned.
5. . . . and finally, So if you want to continue weighing, counting and depriving, then calorie counting is for you. However if you’d prefer freedom, choice and plenty of health benefits, then just like our Personal Training Clients, correctly structured exercise that’s right for you, your age and your fitness levels is your way forward. And then we can wave goodbye to the curse of the diet! Hooray! So enjoy your exercise from all the body4life health & fitness Team – that’s me, Jane, Duncan, Dave, Alison and Tony (you will never find us near any kind of a diet – but you will find us exercising!).
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