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Keep Moving to Manage Your Weight

You can lose weight by dieting, exercising, or a combination of both. Including exercise into your daily routine offers other benefits besides weight control: it boosts your stamina, increases your muscle strength, improves your balance and your mood, and can reduce your risk for some cancers.

Exercise helps build lean muscle. Muscle mass burns more calories than fat, so the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn. If you don't exercise, or slack off on your exercise routine, you lose lean muscle and may end up adding on fat. Alternatively, by keeping active, you keep your metabolism ramped up to burn calories.

Be sure to check with your health care provider before starting an exercise program.

Watch your calories

Even with exercise, you still need to watch how many calories you eat. One way to reduce your daily calories is to keep your fat intake to no more than 30 percent of your daily calories. Fats contain 9 calories per gram, and carbohydrates contain only 4 calories per gram. So, by cutting down on fat, you can cut down on total calories. Just be careful not to replace all those calories from fat that you are avoiding with an equal number of calories from carbohydrates. Watching your caloric intake and getting a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise a week can not only keep you fit, it can also reduce your risk of getting certain health problems such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. Regular exercise is a key to good health.

Exert yourself

Without physical activity, your metabolism slows with age, leaving you less healthy—and looking like it. If you don't exercise, it is difficult to manage your weight.

A lot of people blame their spreading middle on a metabolism genetically locked in slow gear. But you can kick that metabolism into high gear with moving more each day. Try taking the stairs instead of the elevator or parking farther from the store and walking.

If you are a very large person, you can still start and succeed in an exercise program. You may not be able to bend or move the same way other people do when they exercise, but you can make modifications and succeed in your efforts.  A good resource can be found at the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases website. The resource is called "Active at Any Size." 

Combine weights and aerobics

To raise your metabolism and build more muscle mass, try lifting small dumbbells, combined with aerobic training.

Start with dumbbells weighing between 2 and 5 pounds each. Try two sets of 10 to 15 repetitions for each exercise for the first three weeks to a month. After this, you can add more weight and more sets of each exercise. Include aerobic exercise such as walking, running, bicycling, or swimming. Ideally, this should be done for 60 minutes most days of the week. But remember, doing something is better than no exercise at all.

If you are afraid of getting hurt when you exercise, start slowly.  If you have a chronic health problem, such as diabetes or arthritis, check with your doctor before you start to see if you need to modify activities. According to the CDC, moderate intensity aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking,  is generally safe for most people.

Remember, doing something, even a walk around the block, is better than no exercise at all!