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Exercise Guide

Author: Cara Walsh

July 24, 2012

Exercise Guide

Author: Cara Walsh

July 24, 2012

Regular exercise is a necessary part of losing weight and maintaining weight loss. Exercise can also help prevent many chronic diseases and helps improve your overall mood. Incorporating regular exercise into your weight loss (and weight maintenance) program significantly improves your chances of achieving long-term results. Before you begin exercising, be sure to check with your doctor to make sure your exercise plan is appropriate for you. If you do not exercise currently, we recommend you wait three weeks before you begin. Once you have been deemed ready, adopt a slow pace and gradually increase the amount of time spent on the activity. If you are currently exercising, we recommend you cut your current plan in half during the first three weeks, then gradually build it back up.

The Medifast Exercise Guide will help you learn more about exercise and its value. This guide will also provide tips regarding how to exercise, when to exercise and the type of exercise activities we recommend. We will also introduce you to the Medifast Walking Program. This 12-week walking program is great for beginners OR exercise veterans – and will help you incorporate a consistent workout schedule into your healthy lifestyle.


We all know exercise can help you stay trim and in shape, but there are a number of health benefits sometimes overlooked:

· Helps prevent chronic diseases (such as hear t disease), stroke, and diabetes
· Improves your overall mood
· Reduces high blood pressure
· Reduces stress
· Strengthens muscles, bones, and joints
· Improves metabolism and increases your energy level
· Strengthens immune system
· Helps prevent depression
· Increases bone density, which helps prevent osteoporosis


There are three types of exercise we recommend for optimal health:
1) aerobic exercise, 2) strength training,
and 3) lifestyle exercise.

FAQ – Answers to questions about exercise
1. How do I start an exercise program?
Walking is a great exercise to incorporate when beginning any exercise program. Whether you prefer walking on a treadmill or outdoors, walking is a great way to strengthen your joints, muscles, and bones. Details about the Medifast Walking Program can be found on the plan guide.

2 . How can I monitor my heart rate while I exercise?
Most new exercise equipment is manufactured with built-in heart rate monitors that provide an accurate reading of your heart rate while working out. You can also purchase a heart rate monitor that can be worn around your wrist like a watch. These great accessories cost between $ 30 – $100 and can be found at most sporting goods stores. If you prefer another option, you can take your pulse. Simply take one minute from exercising, hold your pointer and middle fingers to your wrist or neck, and count the number of heartbeats in one minute, OR count the number of times your heartbeats in 10 seconds and multiply by six.

Another option is to use the “conversational pace” measure. You should be able to talk to a friend while exercising. If you can sing and exercise at the same time, you’re probably not working hard enough.

3 . What is a target heart rate?
Target heart rate is the heart rate desired during aerobic exercise. Your target heart rate is a percentage of your maximum heart rate and is used to maximize your heart and lung capacities. Your target heart rate goal should always be 50– 85 percent of your maximum heart rate. Once you can sustain your target heart rate for 20 minutes, feel free to gradually increase your intensity. Exercising at a higher intensity level allows you to burn more calories. Exercising at a target heart rate above 85 percent of your maximum heart rate may make it difficult to sustain the recommended 20–60 minutes of exercise. The target heart rate formula is simple.

4. How often should I exercise?
Researchers and health professionals recommend that healthy individuals should perform aerobic exercise at least 5 days a week. Strength training should be done 2–3 times a week. You should not begin an exercise
program in the first few weeks of weight loss. If you are just beginning the Medifast 5 & 1 Plan and do not currently exercise, we recommend you begin with some light to moderate exercise at about Week 3. If you are already exercising, you may continue, but listen to your body. You may feel a need to decrease the intensity of your exercise until your body adapts to the 5 & 1 Plan.

5. I experience knee and feet pain when exercising. What exercises can I do?
Keep an open mind and try each of these activities twice: a water aerobics class, a deep-water running class, a small amount of stationary biking, and some strength training with weights. You should try these activities twice (so you can really experience them), modifying where necessary and noticing how you feel afterwards. Once you find an exercise that works for you, try incorporating it 4-5 times a week.

6. I have a hard time fitting exercise into my daily routine. How can I fit exercise into my busy schedule?

We understand how difficult it can be to exercise with work, family, and everyday life issues. We recommend incorporating mini-exercises into your everyday schedule. By exercising in 10-minute intervals throughout the day, it is easy to get the appropriate amount of activity into your busy schedule. For some quick ideas, check out Page 17 and start adding mini-exercises to your daily routine.

7. I recently hurt my shoulder. When can I start exercising again?
If you have been injured, do not exercise the injured area until you talk with your physician about getting a physical therapist referral. This is especially important if you have sustained an injury (or have been diagnosed with a condition) that will have a long-term effect on your ability to exercise. A therapist can help you determine when it is safe for you to start exercising again and can help you adapt your routines so that you do not re-injure yourself.

8 . Which exercise is best?
Any exercise or regular physical activity that you will do on a consistent basis is the best. The basic goal of exercise is to increase movement, because lifestyles today do not provide enough opportunities for our bodies to move. With insufficient movement we not only tend to gain weight, but our physical abilities begin to decline. Our muscle size shrinks without enough muscular challenge, and our heart and lung capacity declines if we do not use these systems. So the bottom line is: do whatever you like, but keep on moving.

9. I do aerobic exercises 4-5 days a week, but don’t strength train. Is strength training important? Why should I develop muscles?

Strength training may not burn as many calories as aerobic exercise, but strength training does stimulate muscle growth. Lean muscle mass burns more calories than fat, which is great for those struggling to increase their metabolism. Weight training is also very effective for bone mass maintenance and helps prevent osteoporosis in both men and women as we get older. It is especially helpful for the spinal bones, which are not always stimulated well with exercise. These bones are the most susceptible to osteoporosis.
10. I easily become bored with the same old workout routine. How can I
make it more exciting and easier to stick with?
Make exercise something you enjoy; turn it into something fun. Spicing up your routine with the following ingredients can be just the recipe you need to put the excitement back in exercise: Pick an activity you will enjoy. If you don’t like to run, try power walking, swimming, or riding a bike. Make it something you will like doing, instead of forcing yourself to do something you dislike. Distract yourself. Listening to music, watching TV, or even reading a book or magazine can help take your mind off exercising. Before you know it – time’s up!

Bring a friend. Be accountable to each other. Committing to an exercise partner will make you less likely to skip your exercise sessions, and more likely to stick to your routine.
Hire a personal trainer. Hiring a personal trainer will help you perform the exercises properly and will hold you accountable. This may be the key to your fitness success! For more ideas, turn to Page 17 and check out other ways to change up your exercise routine!
11. What type of exercise is recommended, and how much?
If you haven’t been exercising at all, start your exercise plan very slowly. Begin with easy walking, 10–20 minutes per day, and then gradually increase the time and intensity. If you have been exercising prior to starting Medifast, cut your current plan in half during the first three weeks, then gradually build it back up. Refer to Pages 6-10 for information on the types of exercise you should be doing based upon your fitness level.

About the Author:

Cara Walsh
Counselor at The Carmel Mountain Ranch Medifast Weight Control Center
Cara Walsh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Weight Control Counselor. Cara received her bachelor’s degree in Nutritional Science from San Diego State University and completed her dietetic internship to become a registered dietitian through the Utah State University. Cara is currently completing her Masters in Dietetic Administration through Utah State University. Cara has always had a passion for healthy eating and cooking. She loves to focus on how food can heal and provide nutrition-while tasting delicious. Cara thrives on helping others reach their full potential nutritionally. In her spare time she enjoys reading, going to Pilates and running the boardwalk on the Pacific Ocean with her son and husband.

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