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Degree column: Move to burn calories

Last weekís column explained why fruit and vegetables are a key component to a weight loss/weight maintenance program. This week we will explore the ways to move more every day to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.
Weight loss and weight maintenance are balancing acts. In order to lose weight, calories consumed need to be fewer than calories used. In order to maintain your weight, calories consumed need to be equal to calories used.
Calories provide our bodies with energy for functions such as breathing, digesting food and carrying out the activities of daily life. When we consume more calories than we need, we gain weight and vice versa. Physical activity is important for achieving and maintaining a healthy weight because it uses those calories. The more physical activity we do, the more calories our bodies use. The combination of healthy eating and physical activity are important for weight loss.
How much physical activity is enough?
According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), adults need at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., brisk walking) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
Or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity (i.e., jogging or running) every week and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
Or do an equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
We know 150 minutes each week sounds like a lot of time, but you donít have to do it all at once. Not only is it best to spread your activity out during the week, but you can also break it up into smaller chunks of time during the day, as long as youíre doing your activity at a moderate or vigorous effort for at least 10 minutes at a time.
Try going for a 10-minute brisk walk, three times a day, five days a week. This will give you a total of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity activity.
For even greater health benefits, adults should increase their activity to: 150 minutes each week of vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on 2 or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders, and arms) or do an equivalent mix of moderate- and vigorous-intensity aerobic activity and muscle-strengthening activities on two or more days a week that work all major muscle groups (legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms).
Physical activity is important for maintaining a healthy weight. It will also help you:
Manage stress
Sleep better
Feel better overall
Improve self esteem
Build healthy bones, muscles and joints
Help achieve and maintain a healthy weight
One way to build activity into your daily life is to walk more. Set a goal of walking 30 minutes at least five times a week.
Walk during lunch break.
Park farther away at work.
Walk with your family after dinner.
There are other easy ways to incorporate activity while simply living life, things like vacuuming, cleaning out the garage, washing windows, raking and mowing the lawn, pulling weeds.
Take the stairs at every opportunity. It may not seem like a lot of activity, but it adds up.
Taking the stairs twice every day for a year burns enough calories to equal more than 3 pounds.
Play with your children or grandchildren. Itís a great way for you, and them, to move more.
When you begin any exercise regimen, start slowly at first and begin to build intensity.
Be mindful of your intensity as you walk.Walk fast enough that your heart rate increases and your breathing increases.
Work at an intensity at which you could carry on a conversation, but singing would be difficult.
Gradually increase the amount of physical activity you do by five-minute intervals each week. Continue adding five minutes to each walk until you reach 60 minutes and then you can begin to add other forms of physical activity to your routine as you become more fit.
Donít forget to select a strategy (from this weeks topic) to work on for the week and have a good week!
For more information about physical activity visit the Center for Disease Control at http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/adults.html#Aerobic.
Toi N. Degree is a family and consumer education agent for North Carolina Cooperative Extension in Rowan County.

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