Best Exercise For Weight Loss

You probably know people like this. I certainly see plenty of them in the office! Cara is a lovely woman who is about 60 pounds overweight. EVERY time she comes in I ask how she is doing with her diet, and what she is doing for exercise. And EVERY time she answers “Dr. Jen, you know I hate to exercise.

The last time she was in she asked me, “OK, I’m tired of us having the same conversation over and over. If I have to exercise, I want it to work! What’s the BEST exercise for weight loss?”

After I gave her kudos for acknowledging that exercise is important, we had a short conversation that boiled down to this. The BEST exercise for weight loss is this.

The one you will ACTUALLY DO!

Before you (figuratively) throw rotten tomatoes at me and tell me that answer is a cop-out, stop and think. How am I supposed to know what is the best exercise for YOU? I don’t know your likes and dislikes. I don’t know what joints give you problems and if you hate to sweat or if exercise-induced asthma makes anything more than a rousing game of frisbee a challenge.

What I told Cara was that if she hates to exercise it’s because she hasn’t tried them all yet. She needs to keep trying out types of exercise until she finds one that she loves. She needs to find one that she loves so much that she would do it if it were bad for her!

Before you laugh – I have patients like that. I have high school athletes that love soccer so much they will play with a broken foot. I have wrestlers and swimmers that will fight me over time off for a strained shoulder. And don’t get me started on elbow injuries in Little League pitchers.

They will play even injured. Even though it hurts. Even though it endangers their health. So I hold people like that up to the exercise haters and say “There is a sport or a leisure activity out there that you will love so much you will do it through pain. You just have to go find it.”

Here are three suggestions for finding your fitness passion. Movement is good for you – it lifts your mood, decreases joint pain, decreases heart risk AND helps manage your weight.

Join a League

One of the best ways to enjoy a fitness activity is to schedule time to do it with people you like. There are lots of rec-league activities out there, some cater to beginners, and all are much more fun than working out solo.

If you played basketball in middle school, find a basketball pick-up league at the local rec center or community center. Hiking clubs, cycling clubs, all sorts of groups and clubs are out there. Go find one!

Take a Class

Trying something new is a great way to shake up your fitness routine. Take horseback lessons. Join a Zumba or kickboxing class at the gym. Find a martial arts studio. Take ballroom dancing lessons with your spouse or sweetie.

There’s something to be said for spending a little money. If it’s free, there’s no urgency to attend classes or show up for a lesson. If it costs money, there is some value to it.

Grab a Buddy

Exercise is more fun with a friend! You’re less likely to blow off a workout or game or practice if you have someone meeting you or waiting for you. An accountability partner is a good strategy to increase the likelihood you’ll stick to your plan and meet your goals.

Exercise has many benefits. These include

  • increasing metabolic rate
  • burning more calories
  • boosting mood
  • increasing muscle mass
  • improving balance and reducing risk of falls
  • improving bone strength and reducing fracture risk
  • reducing heart risk
  • improving glucose tolerance
  • improving digestion

What are you waiting for? Go play! Have fun 🙂

QUESTION: What do you like to do for exercise?

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Masking For COVID-19 Prevention

I have been wearing a mask every time I leave my house to do anything other than exercise outdoors for the last 2 months. It’s hot. It makes my nose itch. The skin on my face gets tight and irritated. Why do people pay money to have their faces steamed as a facial treatment?!

I don’t like wearing a mask. But. If everyone wears a mask, it will save lives. There is good data supporting universal masking for COVID-19 prevention.

Researchers at Texas A&M and UC San Diego looked at epidemiological data and how the outbreak responded to different control strategies. They found that the strategy that impacted the outbreak the most in both Italy and New York City was universal masking.

China was confusing because they implemented everything at once. Social distancing, stay-at-home, contact tracing and masking were all started at the same time. In Italy and New York City, however, masking requirements were instituted some time AFTER the physical distancing requirements. This makes it possible for researchers can see the relative contributions of these measures.

It turns out the single measure that made the most difference in bending the curve was universal masking. The curves representing the outbreaks in Italy and New York City were identical, including the bend that occurred when masking was instituted. The lockdown/stay-at-home orders in Italy and NYC occurred right at the beginning of the outbreaks and may or may not have impacted the outbreaks’ course.

Credit: www.pnas.org

COVID-19 is a respiratory illness. It is transmitted by aerosol primarily, not by contact. Masks decrease the production of aerosols by catching droplet when the wearer breathes, coughs and sneezes. The virus particles are very very small, too small to be stopped by tightly woven cotton or other fabrics. However, the virus isn’t shed by itself. It’s shed in droplets of mucus that ARE large enough to be stopped by the fabric.

A second benefit of masking is it decreases people’s tendency to unconsciously touch their faces. Hand washing, use of hand sanitizer and disinfecting commonly touched surfaces like light switches and doorknobs decrease contact transmission. But even if you do touch a contaminated surface like a doorknob, you have to touch your eye, nose or mouth in order to get infected.

Recommendations from health authorities like CDC and WHO change based on the latest and best information. In some cases recommendations change quickly and are contradictory. This is simply because the state of understanding of COVID-19 is new. New research findings are coming out so frequently that it is hard to keep up.

We (and the health authorities) are doing the best we can with the information we have. When we know better, we do better. However, the data is coming pretty clear that universal masking for COVID-19 prevention is an important measure.

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