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Creating a lighter, healthier you is a multi-step process. One of the most important steps, and the main focus of this section, is exercise. Here we explore everything from the benefits of exercise to how much and how often it is necessary to promote weight loss.

How Much Exercise to Lose Weight

How Much Exercise to Lose Weight

So how much exercise to lose weight do you need to do? In terms of time, adults need at least 250 minutes of exercise per week--equal to 50 minutes of exercise five days a week -- to lose significant weight, according to the latest recommendations from the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM).

But what if you barely have time to call your parents or squeeze in six hours of sleep? Here's what trainers—and sports-medicine experts—have realized: You don't have to do all 50 minutes in one stretch. In fact, you can do 20 or just 10 minutes increments during the day to reap some of the benefits, from losing weight to toning to reducing stress and clearing your mind.

One tip: Forget Exercise; Have 'Fun' Instead: If the thought of the word exercise makes you cringe, banish it from your vocabulary. Substitute "activity" or even "fun activity."

Exercise definitely sounds like sweat and work. "But when we think of 'activity,' it could be things we enjoy doing," says Fabio Comana, a San Diego exercise physiologist and spokesman for the American Council on Exercise. "You have options. It can be enjoyable activities with friends or with the family." Hiking, biking, urban walks, or playing outdoor games are just a few activities that come to mind.

If you are trying to maintain your weight rather than lose, you will likely still be successful with 30-minute workouts 5 days per week. The ACSM recommends that adults participate in at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity to prevent significant weight gain. Overweight and obese adults, however, are more likely to reach their goals with at least 250 minutes total exercise time per week. Strength training is also recommended as part of the exercise regimen, in order to increase muscle tissue (which burns more calories at rest) and further reduce health risks.

Weight management affects most Americans. More than 66% of U.S. adults are either overweight or obese. People can reduce their risk for chronic diseases with as little as a 2% to 3% reduction in excess body weight! Implementing exercise and proper eating habits can help many people achieve a healthy weight.

Hard to get started?

Don’t get hung up on the length of each workout. Instead, focus on exercising on most days of the week, especially when you are beginning or resuming an exercise program.

If you get into a pattern of daily exercise, it's easy to increase it. The focus at first is to "show up," to do some exercise or activity most days of the week. The hardest part of increasing physical activity is simply getting started, and it’s a good idea to make a deal with yourself. If you plan to exercise on a particular day, no matter how you feel when that day comes around, promise yourself you will put on your exercise clothes and do at least five minutes.

Most people are surprised that when they do this, they get in more exercise. Once you get started it is easier to keep going, and it's easier to increase the amount of time once you are in the habit of every day or every other day. 

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