Role of exercise in weight loss

How much and what types of exercise work best

Despite a boom of technological innovation and next generation surgical techniques, bariatric medicine still trusts a few “old-fashioned” methods in the pursuit of weight loss and better health.

Exercise has always – and will always be – a key part of better health.

And that is why the knowledgeable and experienced specialists at Longstreet Clinic’s Center for Weight Management make exercise a cornerstone of their approach to weight loss and maintenance.

That does not mean that they ask their patients to become marathon runners or Mr. Olympia, however. In fact, exercise can be a simple and enjoyable part of the entire bariatric approach.

“I always say do what you love. If you love to hike, go hike. If you love to play golf, play golf. If you love to play basketball, play basketball,” said Sheenagh King, RD, LD, CPT, a bariatric dietician at Longstreet’s Center for Weight Management. “I’m a huge advocate of walking because everyone can walk, and it’s free, and you can do it everywhere you go.”

The key is movement – and avoidance of prolonged sitting.

“A body that is active is a body that will stay active, and a body that’s moving is a body that will continue to move. But if we continue to be a sedentary society and sit, you’re going to see a lot more medical problems. So, it’s a very important part of your health and wellness journey, especially for weight loss,” King added. “A big challenge for our culture today is sitting. I’m very passionate about helping people understand that sitting during the day is a very deadly thing. You might do boot camp at 5 o’clock in the morning, but if you sit in front of a computer all day you need to think about buying a standing workstation and standing up as much as you possibly can.”

There are also targeted approaches to exercise and Center for Weight Management specialists make it a point to guide their patients toward these routes – all based upon that person’s situation and needs.

“We help our patients determine what works best for them and design a plan,” said Center for Weight Management dietician Alejandra Delgado, RDN. “I get asked all the time whether it’s better to do cardio or lift weight all the time, and the answer is that I think we need a variety of both. Having a good balance of cardio and resistance exercises is key.

“Now, that doesn’t mean you have to go out and run or throw lots of weight around in the gym. It can be anything, like gardening or body-weight exercises. But having a good variety of both cardio for our cardiovascular health and then some resistance exercises helps to maintain lean muscle mass and strengthen our bones.”

But how do you know how much exercise is best – either by length of time or strenuousness?

“It depends on where you are with your weight loss and health journey,” King said. “I believe the American College of Sports Medicine says you should exercise five times a week for 30 minutes and two of those times should be used for strength training – as for how hard, it should be vigorous to as tolerated – so a lot depends on how much you can handle. That’s why we work closely with our patients to make sure they’re getting what they need.”

Establishing a schedule – and sticking to it – is also key.

“It’s important to have a designated time to exercise each week,” King said. “A lot of times people have intentions of working out, but you need to set some goals around those areas, depending on where you are in your fitness abilities. And as you prepare and lose weight, you’ll be able to do a lot more exercise.”

Starting slowly and with realistic goals is important for anyone beginning an exercise routine – especially those who have the most to lose.

“The one thing I know about our patients at Longstreet Clinic – especially our surgical weight loss patients – is they’re trying to lose weight and have big expectations to do physical activity, but it’s almost impossible because they hurt (due to carrying excess weight). Knees hurt, back hurts, they can’t breathe…So that’s why you need to start by just moving and avoiding sitting,” she said. “I tell people, you need to be standing up; you need to be moving every day.”

Experience proves that those patients who do will see results. And, so long as they stick to it and increase their workload as able, they will be much healthier for it. It is a truth that holds firm and is one that – sometimes combined with latest techniques and surgical options – can turn the fortunes and health of any patient.

If you are looking to lose weight and jumpstart your health, the caring staff at the Center for Weight Management are always eager to discuss your situation and are ready to help. To learn more, please call Longstreet Clinic’s Center for Weight Management today at 770-534-0110 or toll-free at 877-921-0110. Or you can watch our online seminar then fill out our contact form, and our weight loss team will reach out to you. 

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