Active lifestyle

It is well reported that a combination of healthy eating and physical activity leads to a more successful weight loss. But how much should we do a day? The recommendation for physical activity for weight loss is:

  • 150 mins per week  of moderate intensity for overweight / obese  to achieve health improvements (22 minutes)
  • prevention of weight gain or for weight loss 200-300 mins per week for long term weight loss (30 – 45 mins a day)
  • and prevention of weight regain after weight loss (>350 mins per week i.e. 45 – 60 minutes moderate / intense physical activity per day – effective also in short 10 minute bursts).

But ….. physical activity doesn’t mean that you have to be working out in a gym or doing an exercise class.  Although these activities help, there are things you can do as part of your every day life that could be done very easily such as;

  • using the stairs instead of a lift
  • walking to school instead of hitching a lift off mum or dad
  • getting up to switch the TV channel over rather than using the remote
  • washing the car or doing the housework – a good way of getting pocket money too!!

It is also well reported that PE in school is the most opted out session for young people with weight problems. It often leaves you feeling vulnerable (taking communal showers or wearing an exposing PE kit) and can lead to bullying.  Here are some tips:

Sports Bullying

Bullying of overweight young people often involves comments that relate to appearance, such as size and shape, which may leave you feeling humiliated and ridiculed. These ‘put downs’ can lower your level of confidence and affect your performance. One of the main school lessons that may cause you feelings of embarrassment and anxiety is Physical Education (PE). Excessive weight often prevents young people from fully participating and enjoying physical games and sports. Overweight young people are less likely to be chosen in team sports because due to their size it is believed that they are unable to perform effectively, which maybe untrue. Sports uniforms and swimwear also makes overweight young people become more conscious of their size and shape, as do communal changing rooms and showers. Overweight boys may sometimes have pre-pubescent breast enlargement (a condition called gynaecomastia), which can lead to terrible taunts and teasing from their peers. For all these reasons, many overweight children and young people will exclude themselves from PE and sports events.

What can be done in this situation?

If you are an overweight young person, don’t let other people stop you from doing the things that you enjoy. Sports and exercise will help you to lose weight and will give you more energy. Just because your peers judge you as being ‘no good’ does not mean that you are rubbish. Many overweight people have great sports potential but fear getting involved in case of being teased about their weight or performance. Don’t let this bother you. Pluck up courage and enjoy yourself. Show your peers what you can achieve and it won’t be long before they realise that you could be one of the best in the team.

What can be done in schools?

Tell your PE teacher the sports activities you enjoy and any problems that you may have in taking part. Talk to them about any worries or embarrassments you have in the changing rooms. They could make other arrangement for you, so that you can still be involved. If you are really dissatisfied with your body or shape, please ask for support from a health professional, who will be able to help you work through your difficulties. Increasing your level of physical activity, combined with a healthy eating programme will soon help you to lose weight.

What can be done at home?

Try to get other members of your family to become involved in activities such as family walks, swimming or cycling. Remember exercise does not have to be structured or in a gym. Try walking to school with your mates. If it is too far, go by bus and get off two stops earlier and walk the rest, or cycle to school. Never do these activities alone for safety reasons. Try reducing the number of hours you spend watching TV, or sitting at the computer. Take the dog for a walk, if you haven’t got one, borrow one! Try the stairs instead of the lift. Help your parents with the housework, or wash the car. Maybe this is not too cool, but these are really good aerobic work out activities (and may even increase your pocket money!). By increasing these activities you will soon start to feel healthier and you will find you will have far more energy. Keep up the exercise and stick to your healthy eating programme and the pounds will start to come off. The key thing is, don’t see exercise as a chore. Chose activities you enjoy and vary your routines so that you don’t get bored.

Here’s how many calories you burn per hour on average during different exercises –

  • Sleeping – 55
  • Standing – 100
  • Eating – 85
  • Sitting at computer – 74
  • Watching TV – 74
  • Doing homework – 92
  • Doing housework – 280
  • Washing the car – 370
  • Walking 3mph – 280
  • Dancing – 340
  • Table tennis – 290
  • Badminton – 420
  • Swimming – 460
  • Cycling – 450
  • Jogging – 500
  • Aerobics – 550
  • Rowing – 460
  • Golf with trolley – 180
  • Power walking – 600
  • Basketball – 520
  • Skating – 420
  • Gardening – 500
  • Skipping – 700

Chose an exercise activity that is fun. You are more likely to continue to exercise if you enjoy it. Set up some competitions with your mates. This will make physical activities much easier.