How much physical activity do I need to control my weight?

If you are watching and controlling your caloric intake, you can probably get away with the minimum recommendation of 150 min/week of what the government defines as physical activity of 3-6METS (see below for complete definitions). However, except for active athletes, according to the latest exercise/weight loss studies, exercise alone won’t control your weight or lead to weight loss, so if weight control is the goal, you must restrict/count calories and perform moderated exercise 3-5 days/week.

Definitions

Physical Activity: any bodily movement produced by skeletal muscles resulting in an expenditure of energy (calories). Any individually safe physical activity is better than none.

Metabolic equivalents (MET): 1 MET = the energy used by the body as you sit quietly, the harder the body works during the activity, the higher the METs (e.g. 2 METS is twice the energy spent sitting quietly). Any activity that burns 3-6 METs is considered moderate-intensity physical activity and is the level of activity the government chose to use in their current broad health recommendations.

Moderate-Intensity Activities (3-6 METS)

• Walking briskly

• Golf, pulling or carrying clubs

• Swimming, recreational

• Mowing lawn, power motor

• Tennis, doubles

• Bicycling 5-9 MPH, level terrain or with a few hills

• Weight lifting, machines or free weights

Minimum exercise recommendations:

Note: these are minimum recommendations, greater health/weight control outcomes can be achieved by doing additional types of activities and/or increasing time spent doing activities

• 5 or more days of the week if moderate-intensity activities (in bouts of at least 10 minutes for a total of at least 30 minutes per day); or

• 3 or more days of the week if vigorous-intensity activities (for at least 20-60 minutes per session)

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