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Exercising for Weight Loss
Exercise is the single best predictor of keeping your weight off. If you lose weight but don't exercise, you'll almost certainly regain it. How much exercise is necessary to keep your lost weight off is not known. Some people keep their weight off with 35-40 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise with some resistance exercise three to four days a week, while others might need 45-60 minutes of lighter exercise five to six days a week. You won't know until you get to your goal weight and experiment. As for weight loss, that's another story. The bottom line is that to lose weight you must consume fewer calories than you burn no matter how much exercise you do. Even if you run a marathon every day you will not lose weight if you consume more calories than you burn. So, if you're not losing, then you are consuming more calories than you burn, even if you think you're not. There are some medical conditions that can cause weight gain or resistance to weight loss. Adrenal problems, thyroid conditions, some rare hormonal imbalances, and even cardiac conditions in which there is retention of fluid are examples. There are also medications that can cause weight gain or resistance to weight loss. Mood stabilizers or antidepressant medications are examples that may fit in this category. Now, exercise does burn calories, and as long as you don't compensate for the calories burned by eating more (some people figure they exercised so why not eat more, or they're simply hungrier), then exercise will certainly help your weight-loss efforts. But again, the bottom line to losing weight is to burn more calories than you consume, and to keep it off, exercise is key.
Exercise for Metabolism
It used to be thought that aerobic exercise would raise metabolism for hours after a workout. The fact is that metabolism returns to baseline usually within half an hour of your workout. Research on resistance exercise, on the other hand, shows that you can increase your metabolism by as much as 100% if the intensity is high enough, and it can stay elevated for as much as 10-12 hours afterward.
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