Exercising right for healthy weight loss

8 February 2019 11:50 am - 0     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}


Hitting the gym daily and following a strict dietary plan might still not help you achieve your desired health goals and leave you frustrated. This is despite you engaging in this aspect of your life wholeheartedly. This week on Health Capsule we are discussing the subject of healthy weight loss through effective exercises plus diet and how it can be attributed to a healthy lifestyle; which leaves disease-free.

To shed light on this important topic we had a discussion with Dr. Upul Madahapola, Registrar Sports and Exercise Medicine, Teaching Hospital, Kandy.

“The incidence of obesity and being over-weight have rapidly increased over the past twenty years with rising co-morbidities including Type 2 Diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure and stroke as a result of unacceptable unhealthy lifestyles led by people. Such people try to achieve temporary pleasure without thinking of long-term consequences. At certain points in life, we do tend to come to our senses and practice healthy habits, dietary control and do exercises in order to achieve a healthy body. However, the results can be purely dissatisfying due to the ways we choose to carry out such practices. This is what we as health care professionals try to create awareness on. If the right quota of physical exercise and diet can be identified and customized according to the individual’s requirements, all of us would be able to gain the most of what we crave for, without any unnecessary hardships,” explains Dr. Madahapola. 

Dr. Madahapola has much to say about how much exercise an individual needs. According to him it is a question we usually come across in our daily life. Most of the effective results are achieved when you can make exercises a regular part of your life. The key is to engage in sweat-shedding activities which you really enjoy so that both your mind and body will benefit from it-thus leading us to the desired goals. Evidence suggests that both aerobic exercises and muscle- strengthening activities play a vital role in healthy weight loss. Resistance work-out can also be added to this as time passes when you are properly adopted to a higher basal metabolic rate.

Kick- starting your routine


  • Talk to the doctor about the intentions of your plan to work out before starting so that the most effective and efficient set of exercises can be identified and followed up. This will also help individuals to get advice about the healthiest options available, depending on your current body mass index, age, occupation and co-morbidities such as hypertension, heart diseases, history of stroke etc. It is highly important to keep in mind that you should always chose  individualized exercise programmes because some can aggravate already existing diseases and worsen the prognosis over time. 


  • Review medications you are already on. This can be done by your family doctor and if further consultation is necessary, a referral can be made to a consultant in the particular field.






  • Now that you are ready to go ahead create a realistic weight-loss goal where the aim is to lose no more than 1-2 pounds per week. 


  • Stick to a healthy-calorie controlled diet with low sugar and salt.


  • In addition to power and strength training as instructed by a professional- start exercising on your own. Use steps instead of the lift at work, park your vehicle a bit far away from the usual parking area and try walking to your work place. Try to add this kind of small tips to your daily routine not forcefully, but making them a part of your life, so that even without knowing you will be shedding a few pounds daily; adding up to your desired weight-loss goal.


  • Invite others to join you. Exercising together is more entertaining and also increases the chances that you will tend to continue. Dogs also make great walking companions in case you didn’t know.


  • If you can keep a pedometer or other activity tracker to monitor the progress of your sessions, it will be more beneficial. For an example you can maintain a goal of 10,000 steps per day.

Aerobic Exercise Programs

“According to the American College of Sports Medicine, the key to losing weight is to add up the amount of exercise you tend to carry out daily. The energy used to walk a certain distance is more or less the same whether you walk fast or slow. Putting it in a simple way, it’s the same amount of calories you burn no matter what the pace is as long as the energy consumed is balanced by the walking distance. If you are someone who gets tired quickly, the best way to practice is slow pace walking with a comparatively longer distance” Dr. Madahapola underscores.


  • Aim to drop at least 5-10% of your initial body weight over a period of 3-6 months.
  • Maintaining a healthy, calorie free dietary pattern is vital.
  • Reduce your current calorie intake by 500-1,000 per day.
  • Start a steady increase to at least 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity physical activity for overall health benefits.
  • Try to aim higher amounts of exercise-300 minutes or more per week, in order to stick to long-term weight control.
  • You can follow the FITT principle to create your own safe, effective and fun exercise program.

Frequency- Be active on most days of the week (at least 3-4 days). 

Intensity – Exercise at a moderate level. ‘Talk test’ will help you to monitor this. For example, even if there is a small rise in your heart and breathe rate, you should be able to carry on a conversation while walking at this recommended moderate pace. Vigorous exercise causes more increase in heart rate and breathing which will actually create no benefit in the long run-as you get fed up and break the regularity.\

Time – Exercise 30-60 minutes per day. You can do it all at once or break it up into a few sessions of at least 10 minutes each.

Type – Do rhythmic exercises using large muscle groups. Brisk walking, cycling and swimming are ideal when it comes to healthy weight loss. Choose a variety of activities you enjoy so that you tend to engage in them regularly.



  • If you have been inactive for a long time, start with short sessions of 10-15 minutes.
  • Keep yourself hydrated by drinking, but NOT soon after heating your body up with exercises.
  • Don’t choose exercises which create undue tension on your joints. If you suffer from Osteoarthritis or traumatic injury it is always better to get medical advice before making exercise plans. Swimming and water exercises are efficient alternatives in this case. 

Resistance exercise programs

If you try to lose weight in an unhealthy way both your fat and muscles will be gone in no time resulting in an ill-looking cachectic appearance. Moderate-intensity resistance training is the best way to increase your muscle mass while shedding fat and can be practiced at home with light weight lifting, push-ups and sit-ups. Do not continue to lift weights when you feel exhausted and avoid holding your breath when lifting-up.

“Once you are adhered to a weight loss programme for 6 months, a weight-maintenance programme can be continued with there onwards with increased physical activity, weight monitoring and a reduced intake of calories which will then become your healthy routine lifestyle. However, it is extremely important to weigh the risks versus benefits when it comes to exercise programmes in individuals with co-morbidities and always remember to seek medical advice in order to avoid unnecessary out-turns” concluded 
Dr. Madahapola.


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