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.
This 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 that are sometimes overlooked. These benefits include:
There are three types of exercise that we recommend for optimal health:
1. Aerobic exercise: Aerobic exercise helps to strengthen your heart and lungs. When you first start, aim for 3 times per week, for 20 minutes, at 60 percent of your heart rate. As your conditioning improves, increase the number of days per week, and the time and intensity of your exercise.
2. Strength training: Strength training can help tone muscles, increase strength and bone density, improve posture and even reduce the potential for injury. In addition, strength training helps to increase your metabolism, allowing you to burn more calories on a daily basis. You should participate in a strength training routine that incorporates all of your major muscle groups 2-3 times per week.
3. Lifestyle exercise: You may find it hard to fit “traditional” exercise into your busy lifestyle. However, by completing a handful of these quick and simple “lifestyle” exercises everyday, you’ll burn more calories on a daily basis. Some ideas include:
Finding a balance between these three different types is the key to making lasting lifestyle changes.
Some people find starting an exercise program to be challenging or overwhelming. There can be a lot of information to learn about, and most people want to make sure that they are exercising correctly. Here are the answers to some common questions that may come up when you are starting, or continuing, 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. Though you may want to jump in and start exercising right away, it is best to wait for a few weeks before beginning a formal workout plan. If you still want to be more active, this is a great time to start taking a daily walk. Getting in the habit now makes it easier to stick with a plan later on. Details about the Medifast Walking Program can be found on the plan guide.
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 manually. 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.
The 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.
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.
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.
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.
If you have been injured, do not exercise the injured area until you talk with your physician about seeing a physical therapist. 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 physical 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.
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.
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.
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:
Exercise is a necessary part of losing weight, improving metabolism, and maintaining weight loss. Exercise also provides many health enhancing benefits such as: improved blood sugar control, improved flexibility and balance, blood pressure control, strength and endurance, and help to decrease stress. If you are not already exercising regularly when you start the Medifast Program, we recommend you wait two to three weeks (and check with your physician) before you begin an exercise program. Start an exercise program slowly, and gradually increase time spent on an activity (and intensity of the activity) as your body allows. Choose an activity that you can enjoy regularly. Most of our customers find walking is the easiest activity to incorporate into their day.
For an individual who has an exercise program in place prior to starting Medifast, we recommend cutting the intensity and duration of your exercise program in half for the first couple of weeks to allow the body to adjust to its new calorie level. As your body adjusts to this lower calorie level, you can increase time and intensity of your exercise plan. For the entire time that you are on the Jump Start Plan, we recommend limiting vigorous exercise to 45 minutes each day.
Listen to your body and only do what it allows. If you feel lightheaded or faint, stop your exercise and take a rest before you resume. Remember to drink fluids—fluid intake is important when you exercise. You may find that you need additional water on the days you exercise, especially if it is hot outside.
For more information and exercise tips, see the Medifast Weight Control Centers Exercise Guide.