For many years experts have debated just how much exercise people need to in order to successfully lose weight. Studies have consistently shown that 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week is what typically works in order to maintain a healthy weight. Now there’s clear evidence indicating that amount of exercise is far less than people need to lose weight.
Recent research has found that people who were able to successfully lose weight exercised for at least one hour almost every day. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the more exercise you do every day, the more weight you’ll lose.
In a two year long program involving 200 women, participants who lost at least 10% of their body weight exercised 5 days per week for an average of 68 minutes. That was 55 minutes longer than they’d been exercising before becoming involved in the weight loss study conducted at the Physical Activity and Weight Management Research Center at the University of Pittsburgh.
In addition to walking on a treadmill for more than an hour most days, participants restricted their food intake to between 1200 and 1500 calories per day. This produced in a dramatic change in the number of calories they burned off vs. consumed. The average participant began the program weighing 193 pounds. By burning an excess of 1800 calories every week they lost about 20 pounds.
The overall health and well-being of the women who successfully participated in the program improved significantly as well. They lowered their blood pressure, enhanced their heart health, and reduced their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The women in the study also developed a much higher level of self-acceptance.
In addition to diet and exercise, participants attended regular group meetings and received routine pep talks from a professional. This proved to be essential because after about 6 months, many of those struggling to lose weight started to relapse back into their previous eating and exercise patterns. Having a support group and a counselor enabled participants to fight through that phase and stick with the program until they achieved success.
The major obstacle most people who are overweight or obese struggle to overcome is difficulty motivating themselves to exercise at all, much less for the time required to actually lose weight. Successful weight loss, numerous studies have shown, requires a sustained effort for 1-2 years in a weight loss program that includes expert advice and group support in order to establish and maintain a healthy diet
These studies have consistently demonstrated that healthy behavioral and psychological functioning relies on your ability to regulate your inner state. If you struggle with self-regulation, then you require external support for an extended period of time in order to learn how to steadily improve your ability to make healthier choices. Counseling can help you to become better at reflecting on the triggers that automatically set off your subconscious impulses to engage in unhealthy behaviors. By identifying the unhelpful thoughts that allow your self-defeating behaviors to occur, you can learn to reprogram your thinking to keep your behaviors aligned with your goals.
After increasing your awareness of what works for you to be able to make healthy choices to meet your needs and achieve your goals, it’s important to develop daily rituals for incorporating those behaviors into your life. By doing the same thing every day at the same time and in the same way, you’ll build a new set of automatic – but healthy – behaviors.
Training in mindfulness can improve your motivation to routinely engage in healthy daily behaviors as well as help you develop a new attitude that supports long-term self-regulation. By focusing your attention and awareness on the present moment, mindfulness enables you make conscious choices to create positive outcomes rather than allowing your old negative habits to control your behavior.
A growing body of evidence indicates that as much as 95% of your actions occur automatically – usually in response to anxiety and distress. That means only 5% of your behavior falls into the category of being conscious and self-directed. Increasing the amount of time you’re able to be mindful of achieving a positive outcome makes the difference between success and failure.
Giving yourself 60 – 90 minute breaks throughout the day to be mindful of what you’re thinking, needing, and doing is incredibly effective for improving your ability to self-regulate. Regularly orienting your mind to your goals helps you to make healthy choices.