Hate your weight? Your genes may be partly to blame. By determining your body composition, appetite regulation, metabolism and other factors, genes may account for as much as 60 to 70 percent of obesity, some researchers say.
These genes react to environmental conditions, so you can blame those too — sprawling communities that require us to drive everywhere; office jobs that force us to sit all day; leisure activities like TV, movies and chatting online, designed for vegging out.
But no matter what got you to that number on the scale, those 40, 80 or 200 extra pounds are yours to lose. And moving your body is key to doing it. Not only does physical activity burn calories, which helps you shed pounds and keep them off — it also increases energy and lowers the risk of obesity-related diseases, including heart disease, high blood pressure, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Defy Your Weight Fate
A University of Maryland study showed that people were able to overcome a strong genetic predisposition to obesity by engaging in a substantial amount of physical activity, the equivalent of about three to four hours of moderate exercise daily.
And studies of the National Weight Control Registry, a database of more than 5,000 people who have lost a lot of weight and kept it off, have found that a secret to their success is 60 minutes of exercise a day.
Life on the Move
If reading those numbers is the only thing that’s gotten your heart rate up all week, you’re not alone. Almost 60 percent of U.S. adults get no vigorous physical activity in their leisure time.
Start by slowly replacing sedentary activities with more active ones — for instance, cut out one TV show a day and spend that half hour taking a walk. Look for ways to make your daily routines just a little more physically demanding.
“Let’s say you work on the seventh floor: Take the stairs up one or two flights, whatever is realistic for you, and then take the elevator the rest of the way,’’ suggests Gordon Blackburn, PhD, director of the Cardiac Rehabilitation Program at the Cleveland Clinic. “Or put your garbage can on the other side of your room so you have to get up out of your chair to throw something away.” All these little things add up at the end of the day to calories expended. The bottom line: Get more active.
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