Weight Loss and Exercise in Adults

Emily Hudson (Exercise Physiologist – Burnie)

Overweight and Obesity Statistics

Being overweight and obese places you at an increased risk for developing negative health conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, psychological issues, musculoskeletal conditions and even some cancers. In 2017-2018, two thirds (67%) of Australian adults aged 18 years and over were overweight or obese (12.5 million people), of which a greater proportion were men (74.5%) than women (59.7%). In 2016 more than 1.9 billion adults aged 18 years and over were overweight, and the worldwide prevalence of obesity has nearly tripled since 1975 to 2016.

How do I know what my ideal weight is?

Traditionally, Body mass index (BMI) has been a tool used to classify overweight and obesity in adults. It is an index that uses your weight and height and is defined as a person’s weight in kilograms divided by the square of their height in meters (kg/m2). The BMI is not the best measure of a person’s weight because it does not distinguish between the proportion of weight due to fat and weight due to muscle.

A better indicator of your distribution of body fat is to have your waist and hip circumferences measured. When both your waist and hip circumference have been measured, your waist-to-hip ratio can be calculated by dividing the waist circumference by the hip circumference. The waist-to-hip ratio is a measure of body fat distribution, more specifically identifying whether fat is stored around your abdomen (around your organs) or around your hips/buttocks. In day-to-day language, people often refer to more dangerous abdominal fat which will correlate to a higher waist-to-hip ratio number as being “apple shaped”, and the less dangerous fat around the hips correlated to a lower waist-to-hip ratio as being “pear shaped”.

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Creating a calorie deficit

Gaining control of food intake, or what is referred to as energy consumption, is a large part of any weight loss journey. In conjunction with diet, exercise is also a key tool to losing weight and keeping it off. When exercise is performed, energy is expended and body fat is reduced. The combination of a good diet and regular exercise therefore ensures less energy is consumed and more energy is expended, creating what is called as a calorie deficit.

Exercise Recommendations for Weight Loss

It can be confusing to try and work out what and how much exercise to do to lose weight and improve health. See below for the current recommendations for healthy populations:

Current aerobic exercise recommendations for healthy adults suggest the following:

  • Frequency: be active on most days of the week, building up to at least 5 days of the week.
  • Intensity: exercise at a moderate level. This can be determined by using the “talk test” which recommends you should be able to still carry out a conversation while exercising at a moderate pace.
  • Time: exercise 30-60 minutes per day, either by completing it all at once, or breaking it up into a few sessions of at least 10 minutes each.
  • Type: rhythmic exercises using larger muscle groups like walking, cycling, or swimming, and choose activities you enjoy.

Current resistance exercise recommendations for healthy adults suggest the following:

  • Frequency: do resistance training at least 2 times per week, with a rest day in between.
  • Intensity: exercise at a moderate level. This can be determined by seeing if the weight can be lifted 10-15 times.
  • Time: this will depend on the number of exercises completed.
  • Type: exercise all major muscle groups using body weight, resistance bands, free weights, or machine weights.

Top Tips to Losing Weight

  1. Determine why you want to lose weight – health, special occasion, clothing, more energy to play with children and grandchildren.
  2. Set a short term and a long-term goal – 1 week, 1 month, 6- and 12-month goals, and once you achieve them, give yourself a reward whether it be a massage, or a new workout shirt.
  3. Have a diary and track your progress – take measurements, take pictures, track food and exercise.
  4. Exercise with friends and family – you are more likely to adhere to your exercise and achieve your goals with support around you.
  5. Focus on the positives – no one is perfect, little efforts every day are what ensures progression. Focus on the small things like reducing your soft drink intake or using the stairs and not the elevator.
  6. Expect failure – life can throw us some curve balls, expect them, and prepare. Put your clothes out the night before, meal prep your food if you know you will not have time during the week to cook healthy meals.
  7. Action leads to action – the more you move the body the greater the reward. Do not just think about exercise think about how you can move your body during the day by gardening, mowing the lawn, taking the stairs, moving the bin or printer at work so you must walk to use it instead or even parking a bit further away from your destination will all be helpful strategies to achieve your goal.
  8. Seek out professional help – speak to an accredited Exercise Physiologist on how to achieve your exercise and weight loss goals. They can provide you with the motivation you need and structure a personalized exercise program that you can follow.

For help with your weight loss journey, book an appointment with one of our Exercise Physiologists by calling Coastal Physiotherapy’s Burnie clinic.

References

  1. Risk factors to health, Overweight and obesity – Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (aihw.gov.au)
  2. Overweight and obesity, 2017-18 financial year | Australian Bureau of Statistics (abs.gov.au)
  3. Obesity and overweight (who.int)
  4. Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference | healthdirect
  5. EIM Rx series_Exercising to Lose Weight_2.pdf (exerciseismedicine.org)
  6. Top tips for losing weight safely – Exercise Right.