This is the last addition to this three part article. Today we will be talking about practical applications, specific exercises and resources, you can use to increase your fitness level, create a net caloric defict (resulting in weight loss), and decrease your risk for many chronic diseases.
The Guidelines for Health Benefits
The Canadian Society for Exercise Physiology (CSEP) is Canada’s gold standard for physical activity recommendations, health and fitness research, and fitness professional certifications. In January of 2011, CSEP released new physical activity guidelines broken down into age groups. The guidelines can be found on the CSEP website, or MORFit’s Resources page. For adults, CSEP advises: “To achieve health benefits, adults aged 18-64 years should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity per week, in bouts of 10 minutes or more.”
Ideally this would be spread over 4-6 days of the week, and not just one full-on bout of 2.5 hours. Keep in mind this is to achieve health benefits, which will reduce your risk for things like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, hypertension, and other diseases. If you’re looking to lose weight, this may not be enough.
How Much is Enough for Weight Loss?
The American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) advises: “Overweight and obese adults may benefit from progression to approximately 250-300 min/week or 50 to 60 min on 5 days/week”. Research suggests this volume of activity (>2,000 kcals/week) enhances long-term weight loss maintenance. They recommend targeting a 5-10% reduction in body weight over the initial 3-6 months. This may not sound like much, and many diets/progams out there claim to lose that much in half the time. The difference here, is that we’re trying to adopt a sustainable lifetsyle that will continue to deliver results over the long term, to avoid the yo-yo effect.
In addition to the physical activity, the ACSM recommends reducing caloric energy intake by 500-1000 kcal/day to achieve weight loss. Dietary fat should account for <30% of total energy intake.
Making the Numbers Fit
Just how much physical activity equates to 2,000 kcals? Below is a list of kcal/min burnt during different activity intensities. From this table, we can see that a female exercising “lightly” (3.4 Kcal/min), would need to exercise for just under ten hours to burn 2,000 kcals in a week. This should help illustrate the importance of balancing the intensity and duration discussed in part II.
Level Kcal/min Level Kcal/min
Light 2.0-4.9 Light 1.5-3.4
Moderate 5.0-7.4 Moderate 3.5-5.4
Heavy 7.5-9.9 Heavy 5.5-7.4
Very Heavy 10.0-12.4 Very Heavy 7.5-9.4
There are other ways to determine more accurately how much energy is being used during exercise. A fitness professional can help you determine these numbers based on your weight/age/etc.
Still Waiting for the Exercises
Now that we have a general idea of how much exercise we should be targeting, let’s talk about types of exercises. As mentioned in part II, we get the greatest benefit from useing several large muscle groups while weight bearing. Treadmills, rowers, and ellipticals are good examples to choose from in a gym. Running, cycling, stairs, skipping, and multi-muscle exercises (aerobics, burpees) are great if you’re at home. Sports, boot camps, spin classes, running groups are very social and effective outlets in the community.
This list is certainly not exhaustive. The bottom line is to find activities that you enjoy doing, and making sure that you’re engaging in the activities with sufficient intensity and duration to experience the benefits you’re seeking.
In fture articles, we’ll get more specific about tracking intensities with heart rates and RPE’s. For now, I encourage you to set a goal of finding activities you can adopt into your lifestyle, and start working towards dedicating 150 minutes per week to those activities.
I wish you all the best!