Physical activity for a healthy weight

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

  • By losing weight, increased physical activity increases the amount of calories your body “burns” or uses for energy. By burning calories through physical activity while reducing the number of calories you consume, a “caloric deficit” results which results in weight loss.
  • Most of the weight is lost by eating fewer calories. However, the evidence shows that the only way to maintain weight loss is to perform physical activities on a regular basis.
  • And what is even more important, physical activity reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes to a greater extent than weight loss alone.

	photograph of women exercising in a poolPhysical activity also helps:

  • Keep in weight.
  • Reduce high blood pressure.
  • Reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, heart attack, stroke and several types of cancer.
  • Reduce the pain of arthritis and the disability associated with this condition.
  • Reduce the risk of osteoporosis and falls.
  • Reduce the symptoms of depression and anxiety.

How much physical activity is necessary?

When it comes to controlling weight, there is a lot of variation in the amount of physical activity that each person needs. Here are some guidelines to follow:

To maintain your weight: Gradually reach up to 150 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic activity, 75 minutes of vigorous intensity aerobic activity or the combined equivalent of the two types of activity each week. Solid scientific evidence shows that physical activity can help you maintain your weight over time. However, the exact amount of physical activity necessary to achieve it is not clearly known, since it varies greatly from person to person. 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 not get it back: You will need a lot of physical activity unless you adjust your diet and reduce the amount of calories you eat and drink. To get to have a healthy weight and maintain it, you need both regular physical activity and a healthy eating plan.

What does moderate intensity and vigorous intensity mean?

Moderate : If during physical activity your breathing and heart rate are much faster but you can still have a conversation, it is probably a moderate intensity. For example:

  • Quick walk (one mile in 15 minutes).
  • Moderate work in the garden (raking, bagging leaves or passing the lawn mower).
  • Move a moderate amount of snow with a shovel.
  • Play actively with children.
  • Ride a bike at a walking pace.

	Image of a soccer playerVigorous : If your heart rate is substantially accelerated and you have to breathe very hard and fast to be able to hold a conversation, it is probably vigorous intensity. For example:

  • Jog or run.
  • Swim.
  • Skating on wheels or online at an accelerated pace.
  • Cross country skiing
  • Most competitive sports (American football, basketball or soccer).
  • Jump the rope.

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