Exercise to Lose Weight

Using exercise to lose weight is by far the healthiest way to not only lose weight but become healthy and fit while doing it. This aricle discusses fun ways for teens to lose weight while exercising, additional benefits of weight loss and exercise, and tips for weight loss success.


Teen exercise in an important part of a weight loss plan. A good exercise plan not only helps burn extra calories, but also improves a teen's health and sense of well being, and can be fun. A doctor can help a teen who is very inactive or obese find the right way to start exercising to lose weight.

Generally, teens lose weight when they burn more calories then they consume everyday. That's why most weight loss plans include two parts: exercising to burn calories and eating a healthy diet with a reasonable number of calories to reduce calorie intake.

A person has to burn 3,500 calories to lose one pound of fat, and most physical activities burn between 200 and 500 calories an hour. Teens who are exercising an hour per day and eating a healthy diet can expect to lose 1 to 2 pounds of fat a week, though they may initially lose more when they first change their exercise and eating habits. Though some diets promise more dramatic weight loss, many of these cause people to lose water weight, which will not result in permanent weight loss and may be unhealthy.

To lose weight, keep it off, and maintain a healthy weight exercise must become part of a person's daily habits over the long run. If a teen loses ten pounds then stops exercising, the weight will usually come back. This means that a teen who wants to lose weight and keep it off needs to find activities that they enjoy and will continue doing or can incorporate into their daily activities. These can include:

  • Going for a walk or a hike
  • Swimming
  • Playing a sport
  • Riding an exercise bike, stretching, or lifting weights while watching TV
  • Walking, skating, or riding a bike instead of driving or taking the bus, when weather permits and it is safe
  • Taking the stairs instead of the elevator or escalator
  • Taking classes like aerobics, yoga, or martial arts
  • Doing chores or work in the yard or garden
  • Getting a job that is physically active

In addition exercising to lose weight has many other benefits for teens. It may help them to:

  • Reduce stress, depression, and anxiety and improve their sense of well being
  • Have a better teen self-esteem
  • Lower the risk of many diseases and health problems, now and in the future
  • Improve posture and flexibility
  • Build and maintain healthy muscles, bones, and joints
  • Increase endurance and strength

Exercise to lose weight doesn't mean you have to go to a gym.  Anything that gets a teen up and moving will help burn calories. They should usually aim for at least 30 minutes a day of exercise, though the 30 minutes can be broken up throughout the day, such as a 10 minute walk, 10 minutes doing housework, and 10 minutes lifting weights. It is usually good for teens to vary the type of exercise they get to keep it interesting and work out different muscle groups. Most teens should try to get some type of aerobic exercise, like walking, biking, or swimming, every day, and anaerobic exercise like weight lifting or stretching a couple of time a week.

A few tips for success include:

  • Talk to a doctor about where to start, including how many calories you need to consume and what kinds of exercise would be best for you, especially if you have been inactive.
  • Make specific, realistic goals with your doctor’s advice in mind. For instance, instead of saying, "I want to exercise to lose weight," say, "I want to lose 10 pounds in two months by walking 30 minutes a day and eating 1800 calories a day."
  • Keep a log of your progress, writing down what you did and for how long. If you start to feel obsessive about this, however, it may be best to stop keeping the journal.
  • Be patient. Losing weight is a lifestyle change with lifelong benefits, but it doesn't happen overnight. You may not drop three sizes by the time school starts, but maybe you can by the end of the school year. Some people prefer to weigh themselves weekly instead of daily so they can see their progress without getting discouraged.
  • Don't sabotage your exercise by rewarding yourself with high-sugar or fatty treats, or by drinking sugary sports drinks that will replace all the calories you just burned.
  • When you skip a day or two exercising, don't punish yourself or give up. Remember that weight loss is a long-term goal, and you can just start working toward it again.
  • Don't try to overdo it. Too much exercise can hurt your body and hinder your efforts. If you start to get obsessed with exercise or losing weight, you may need to talk to a doctor, nurse, or other professional to find a healthy balance. 

Sources:

MyPyramid.gov, "Why is physical activity important?" and "Tips for increasing physical activity" [online]
MedlinePlus, "Tips for losing weight" [online]
WebMD, "Exercise and Weight Loss" [online]
Mayo Clinic, "Weight Loss: 6 strategies for success"
John Cloud, Time, "Why Exercise Won't Make You Thin" [online]

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