You’ve heard all about the dangers of being overweight and how exercise can help, but you just can’t seem to get motivated, because it seems so strenuous! The good news is that even a small amount of exercise can make a big difference. Physical activity contributes to weight loss, especially when it is combined with calorie reduction. Use the following tips from The Surgeon General’s Call to Action to Prevent and Decrease Overweight and Obesity and you’ll be on your way to losing weight.

1. You Can Get Active! While exercise may seem intimidating at first, you don’t need special skills or training to be physically active. Keep in mind the following pointers.

  • Initiate physical activity slowly and increase the intensity gradually (e.g., start with a 10-minute walk three times a week and work your way up to 30 minutes of brisk walking or some other form of moderate activity five times a week).
  • If it’s easier, split your activity into several short periods (e.g., 10 minutes three times a day) instead of completing it in one longer period (e.g., 30 minutes once a day).
  • Select activities that you enjoy and can fit into your daily life.
  • Realize that it may take time to incorporate more activity into your daily life. Don’t get discouraged if at first you miss a day or two; just keep trying and do your best to make it a regular part of your life. You will soon realize how good it feels to be physically active and fit.
  • Ask for support from friends and family; likewise, support the people in your life who are trying to be physically active.
  • Remember that many forms of physical activity can be social, allowing you to converse and spend time with family or friends or to develop new relationships.
  • Make fitness a priority. Commit to it!
  • Consult with your health care provider before starting a vigorous exercise program if you have ever had heart trouble or high blood pressure; if you suffer from chest pains, dizziness/fainting or arthritis; or if you are over age 40 (men) or 50 (women).

2. Burn Calories for Weight Loss. To lose weight, you must use more energy than you take in. For weight maintenance, your intake of calories must equal your energy output.

  • A difference of one 12-ounce soda (150 calories) or 30 minutes of brisk walking most days can add or subtract approximately 10 pounds to your weight each year.
  • Adding moderate amounts of physical activity to your routine five or more times a week uses 150 calories of energy on each day of activity, which can be equivalent to approximately
    5 pounds in 6 months or 10 pounds in 1 year.
  • Reducing your calorie intake by 150 calories a day, along with participating in moderate activity, could double your weight loss to approximately 10 pounds in 6 months or 20 pounds in 1 year. (See the chart for activities that burn 150 calories.)