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Exercise Strategies for Weight Control

When we lose weight, we often think that we are losing fat. But that’s a common myth - usually, when we are dieting to loses weight, we often lose muscle and water along with fat. This can show great initial results, but usually will lead to weight regain, affecting your mood and motivation. When trying to lose weight (and keep it off), it is crucial to not just eat well, but also incorporate 2 types of exercises: aerobic or cardiac exercise, and strengthening.


The newest guidelines on exercise released from the World Health Organization 2020 encourage exercise and weight loss to support improvement of nearly every chronic condition. Replacing sedentary time with physical activity of any intensity (including light intensity) provides health benefits, and notably, going over the recommended amount of exercise may lead to even more health benefits.

To Maintain Your Health, here are the general guidelines.

What an Ideal Maintenance Routine looks like:

Try this Routine Upgrade if: you're hitting a plateau or just need a little extra

Aerobic Exercise (cycling, rowing, swimming, walking, jogging, running)

150-300 minutes per week of moderate intensity

OR 75-150 minutes of vigorous intensity per week

50+ minutes per day, 3 days per week, OR

30+ minutes per day, 5 days per week

5 days per week

45-60 min/day of moderate intensity,


30 min/day of high intensity

Strengthening Exercise (weight lifting, barre, resistance training)

At least 2 days per week

30 minutes, 3 days per week of full-body strengthening exercises, ie. Monday, Wednesday, Friday kickboxing, tai chi, barre, resistance, or isometric exercises

30 minutes daily, 4 days per week alternating muscle groups every other day, ie.

Monday- legs&arms, Tuesday- Abs and back,

Wednesday- legs&arms… etc.

How Much Exercise is ok for Age and Special Health Conditions?

The guidelines on exercise offer specific guidance based on age and medical condition. While the old recommendations suggested restricting exercise in those with chronic conditions, the new recommendations avoid giving people with chronic conditions a pass on exercise. Instead, since exercise is so important for overall health and improvement of chronic conditions, the new guidance suggests that those with chronic conditions will benefit equally or more from exercise to treat their illness and reduce symptoms. The guidelines for different groups are noted below.

Adults and older adults:

2.5-5 hours per week


1 hour per day

Young children:

3 hours per day

Pregnant women:

2 hours and 30 minutes per week as able

Adults with chronic conditions or disabilities:

2.5 to 5 hours per week (and as able and recommended by physician)

To lose weight, what should I do?

Note that if you are just starting a workout routine and you haven’t exercised regularly before, any amount of exercise will be helpful. You may even find yourself losing weight by just doing 5 minutes per day!

  1. Start with what you are comfortable with.

  2. Each week, increase the daily exercise amount by 5 minutes, or however much you can tolerate and is recommended by your doctor (ie. Last week, my goal was to do 7 minutes per day of walking, so this week my goal will be 12 minutes per day.)

  3. After you get to the initial benchmark of 150 aerobic minutes per week, stay there for 4 weeks, and see how you like it.

  4. Adjust the # of workouts per week, depending on your schedule and how much time you typically have

  5. Think about switching the types of exercise to keep things interesting, fun, and challenging

  6. As you see your rate of weight loss slowing down (hitting a plateau), consider increasing your daily exercise goal, or fine-tuning your diet with a Dietitian.

Depending on what your goals are, and where you are in your weight change journey, start with the exercise level that’s do-able for you. Not sure what is do-able for you? Let's talk and help you figure out where to start.

Want an Easy Starter Workout Routine?

We’ve got you covered with a sample workout routine to get you started. Copy this one, or make your own! Be sure to

  • Plan out all 7 days of the week

  • Keep a space for rest days, (preferably on those days when you are most busy and just can’t exercise),

  • Figure out all three types of recommended exercise: aerobic, strength, and stretching.









60 minute ​Family/group hike



15 min power walk after lunch, another 15 min after dinner



30 minute power walk with friends


15 min: leg raises, calf raises, lateral arm raises, arm curls

30 min tai chi

15 min: leg raises, calf raises, lateral arm raises, arm curls

15 min abs on an exercise ball or floor


​20 min yoga

​20 min yoga

​20 min yoga

You need a combination of healthy eating and exercise to improve your health, so keep your eating habits consistent. Without that magical combination of eating healthy AND exercise, you likely won’t see results that last. No magic potion, serum, supplement, or pill will make you keep the weight off forever... Only hard work does that. Sorry, no shortcuts.

While you should be doing 150 minutes per week of aerobic activity, another 3 days per week of strengthening, and 3 days per week of stretching (especially for elderly), how you get these done is up to you.

And while losing weight can be hard, maintaining those good habits and keeping the weight off in the long term are even harder. When you start your workout routine, start small, with goals that are achievable with your schedule and lifestyle. If not, the habit may fizzle and fade.


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