House Call: New Year, New You! Part 1

Published: Dec. 6, 2020 at 2:47 PM EST
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In 2019, 48% of the people who made New Year’s resolutions wanted to lose weight, according to a survey by YouGov. Other popular resolutions included exercising more (59%) and eating healthier (54%). So, if you are looking for the ‘New Year, New You’ mindset, you are not alone. Joining us this week for part one of our three part series on UHC’s HouseCall is Dr. Elizabeth H. Hess, family medicine physician at UHC Family Medicine and faculty, to help us all keep our New Year’s Resolution.

1). Why is physical activity important to meeting your New Year’s resolution and overall health?

Regular physical activity is important for good health, and it is especially important if you are trying to lose weight or to maintain a healthy weight.

· When losing weight, more physical activity increases the number of calories your body uses for energy or “burns off.” The burning of calories through physical activity, combined with reducing the number of calories you eat, creates a “calorie deficit” that results in weight loss.

· Most weight loss occurs due to a decreased caloric intake. However, evidence shows the only way to maintain weight loss is to be engaged in regular physical activity.

· Most importantly, physical activity reduces risks of cardiovascular disease and diabetes beyond that produced by weight reduction alone.

Physical activity also helps to:

· Maintain weight.

· Reduce high blood pressure.

· Reduce risk for type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke, and several forms of cancer.

· Reduce arthritis pain and associated disability.

· Reduce risk for osteoporosis and falls.

· Reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.

2). What is the right choice when it comes to selecting a physical activity?

You want to choose activities that you enjoy and can do regularly. Regardless of your choice, keep it interesting by trying something different on alternate days. Every little bit adds up and doing something is better than doing nothing.

Make sure to do at least 10 minutes of activity at a time, shorter bursts of activity will not have the same health benefits. For example, walking the dog for 10 minutes before and after work or adding a 10-minute walk at lunchtime can add to your weekly goal. Mix it up. Swim, take a yoga class, garden, or lift weights. To be ready anytime, keep some comfortable clothes and a pair of walking or running shoes in the car and at the office.

3). So how much physical activity do you need?

When it comes to weight management, people vary greatly in how much physical activity they need. Here are some guidelines to follow:

To maintain your weight: Work your way up to 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity, or an equivalent mix of the two each week. Strong scientific evidence shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity needed to do this is not clear since it varies greatly from person to person. It is possible that you may need to do more than the equivalent of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity a week to maintain your weight.

To lose weight and keep it off: You will need a high amount of physical activity unless you also adjust your diet and reduce the amount of calories you are eating and drinking. Getting to and staying at a healthy weight requires both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan.

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