What Doctor Says

Exercise to lose weight, but easy at first

Go easy at first!


By Dr Leel Nelliheta

Scale of the Overweight & Obesity Problem

Exercise to lose weight is what all world should do

The rapid rise in world-wide obesity is alarming!

The scale of the world-wide overweight and obesity problem is truly amazing!

In the USA, for example, recent data shows 38% of the adult population is obese, compared with the early 1980´s, when the figure was 15%. The UK is still a bit behind on obesity, but not much. Statistics published by the BBC show amongst much else that consumption of sweet soft drinks really took off in the UK, from 180 g a week in the 1970´s to 1,500 g in 2014.

Most of the developed world  –  and, increasingly ,the developing world too  –  has equally discouraging statistics.

More on overweight and obesity here.  

Why Are These 5 Countries Among Most Obese?

It is interesting that New Zealand, Australia, Canada, USA, UK are all in the top 10 worst countries for overweight.

Five out of ten of the world´s worst countries for overweight and obesity! (Though Australia also has one of the longest life-spans) What those countries have in common includes a higher consumption of fast-food than world averages, more manufactured foods, a high consumption of fizzy sweet drinks, and lots of fried food. Also, these countries may be worse than normal in having a propensity to use labour-saving devices and take the car to go a 100 meters. to the supermarket. The walk with the dog has got shorter, and now pet dogs are probably also putting on weight.

Causes of Widespread Overweight and Obesity in the World

It is my firm conviction that the causes of the world overweight and obesity crisis are not just one thing .

There was no general problem 40 years ago, when overweight and obesity were much less in most of the world than they are now. What has happened is that life-styles have changed in much of the world during that period. People consume far more useless calories, often in the form of sugar under one of its many disguises and they have much less physical activity.
Which of these is more important in the overweight and obesity crisis is a matter of opinion. What is not a matter of opinion is that both play a part.


Exercise to Lose Weight

Exercise is absolutely vital for good health and well-being.

More controversially, I consider exercise to be important also for losing or controlling weight. It is not merely a question of calories burned during exercise, but of psychological effects. Brisk walking, say, burns about 170 calories an hour – depending on various factors including age and weight. If you walk an hour most days while you´re reducing your weight, then the 170 calories a day soon adds up to significant weight loss! (But do not spoil it by drinking a can of Coke or a similar drink at the end of the walk!)

More on exercise here.

Walking As Exercise

Possibly the main beneficial effect of walking to lose weight is psychological.  Most people who go on a diet start with enthusiasm. But the enthusiasm ebbs away day by day and they begin to find it a real chore. Exercise and getting fit bring a big change to this. As you get fit, so your optimism  and determination return. You revel in feeling so much better in yourself and the urge to reduce your weight to a healthy level stays with you. Even after you have finished the diet!

Changed and Unhealthy Modern Way of Life

People have become largely sedentary. Often, they sit all day at work and then sit all evening when they get home. Watching TV until they go to bed! Even small bits of exercise, such as home chores like shopping, taking care of the garden or cleaning have frequently had much of the physical activity taken out of them by appliances. People drive rather than walk even short distances and active participation in sports is confined to quite a small percentage of the population in most countries.

Exercise for the purpose of weight control, good health and general enjoyment has also become a minority activity. This is amazing, considering the benefits and pleasure to be had from being fit. Fitness is also easy to achieve for most people.

Aerobic exercise

Aerobic exercise is essential for weight control and general well-being. Yet most of the population in most countries do not get enough of it. Nowhere near enough.

Sometimes called “cardio”, aerobic exercise is one in which your heart is beating faster than normal and you are a bit out of breath. As you keep going, a slight sweat will break out as your heart works harder to get more blood pumping to your muscles. This is an excellent form of exercise, that can be performed by anyone, irrespective of age, health or weight. (It is important to consult your doctor if there is any reason to doubt your fitness to exercise. It is likely to be more a question of modifying the exercise, rather than not doing any.)
If you persevere with aerobic exercise, you will soon start to notice the difference. To your health, to how you feel, to how well you sleep. As you notice and enjoy the benefits, you will come to look forward to it!

N.I.E. Report:   Lack of Exercise As Cause of Overweight

A report in the UK by the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) is interesting. According to them, per capita consumption of sugar, salt, fat and calories has been falling in the UK for decades. Yet, since 2002 the average weight of UK adults has increased by 2 kg.. They consider that the rise in obesity in the UK has been mainly caused by a decline in physical activity and not by calorie intake. Certainly, the same conclusions, if correct, are likely to hold in a large number of countries. Many professionals dispute the IEA report and also cast doubt on the impartiality of the report author. Yet, reading the report, it is very convincing. There are also many professionals who agree with them.

More on exercise here.

Over-Consumption of Calories

Exercise to lose weight and don´t overeat

“I can resist everything except temptation” Oscar Wilde

It seems clear that calorie consumption (over-eating and drinking), particularly of sugar in one form or another, are responsible for a large part of the problem. The solution is not simply to eat fewer calories, but also to change the mix of calories, to have a healthier overall diet.

“Natural” Diets Best For Most People

As stated elsewhere on this website, the best diets to achieve weight loss and weight control are “natural” diets. A minimum of manufactured foods, few take-aways or junk foods in general, drastic reduction in sugar and (in some cases) alcohol. Increase in fruit and vegetables and beans. Nuts and seeds can also be healthy components of a natural diet.

A natural diet is almost by definition likely to be healthy, enjoyable and easy to keep to on a permanent basis. Mediterranean peoples have traditionally followed what is mainly a “natural” diet. It is what tourists have and enjoy when they visit Mediterranean countries. It is also the diet which increases dramatically the chances of losing weight – then keeping it off.

See more on natural diets here.

Maintaining Weight After Diet

Diet alone is not enough to achieve and maintain lasting good health. For that, regular exercise is essential. It´s a question of life-style:  Exercise and diet – the right kinds and in the right quantities.

More on maintaining weight after the diet here.  

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