Overweight and Obesity: What You Can Do

Overweight and Obesity: What You Can Do


Being Physically Active Can Help You Attain or Maintain a Healthy Weight



  • 61% of adults in the United States were overweight or obese in 1999.
  • Approximately 300,000 deaths each year in the United States may be attributable to obesity.
  • Overweight and obesity are associated with heart disease, certain types of cancer, type 2 diabetes, stroke, arthritis, breathing problems, and psychological disorders, such as depression.


  • Physical activity contributes to weight loss, especially when it is combined with calorie reduction.
  • Regular physical activity is extremely helpful for the prevention of overweight and obesity.
  • Regular physical activity is very important in maintaining weight loss.
  • In addition to weight control, physical activity helps prevent heart disease, helps control cholesterol levels and diabetes, slows bone loss associated with advancing age, lowers the risk of certain cancers, and helps reduce anxiety and depression.


  • Many people live sedentary lives; in fact, 40% of adults in the United States do not participate in any leisure-time physical activity.
  • Less than 1/3 of adults engage in the recommended amounts of physical activity (at least 30 minutes most days).


  • You don’t need special skills or training to be physically active. Walking is a great way to be active.
  • Physical activity should be initiated slowly, and the intensity should be increased gradually (e.g., start with a 10-minute walk three times a week and work your way up to 30 minutes of brisk walking or other form of moderate activity five times a week).
  • Activities can be split into several short periods (e.g., 10 minutes 3 times a day) instead of one longer period (e.g., 30 minutes once a day).
  • You should select activities that you ENJOY and can fit into your daily life.
  • It may take time to incorporate more activity into your daily life. Don’t get discouraged if at first you miss a day or two; just keep trying and do your best to make it a regular part of your life. You will soon realize how good it feels to be physically active and fit.
  • Ask for support from friends and family; likewise, support the people in your life who are trying to be physically active.
  • Many forms of physical activity can be social, allowing you to converse and spend time with family or friends or to develop new relationships.
  • Make fitness a priority…COMMIT TO IT.
  • energy balance graphic, depicting the balance between intake calaries from food and output calaries used during physical activity

    * Consult with your health care provider before starting a vigorous exercise program if you have ever had heart trouble or high blood pressure or suffer from chest pains, dizziness or fainting, arthritis, or if you are over age 40 (men) or 50 (women).

  • To maintain your weight, your intake of calories must equal your energy output.
  • To lose weight, you must use more energy than you take in.
  • A difference of one 12-oz. soda (150 calories) or 30 minutes of brisk walking most days can add or subtract approximately 10 pounds to your weight each year.


  • Adding moderate amounts of physical activity five or more times a week to your routine uses 150 calories of energy on each day of activity, which can be equivalent to approximately 5 pounds in 6 months or 10 pounds in 1 year.
  • You can choose any combination of type of activity at the length of time specified from the following table to burn approximately 150 calories:
  • Examples of moderate amounts of physical activity
    Common Chores
    Washing and waxing a car for 45-60 minutes
    Washing windows or floors for 45-60 minutes
    Gardening for 30-45 minutes
    Wheeling self in wheelchair 30-40 minutes
    Pushing a stroller 1½ miles in 30 minutes
    Raking leaves for 30 minutes
    Walking 2 miles in 30 minutes (15min/mile)
    Shoveling snow for 15 minutes
    Stairwalking for 15 minutes
    Sporting Activities
    Playing volleyball for 45-60 minutes
    Playing touch football for 45 minutes
    Walking 1¾ miles in 35 minutes (20min/mile)
    Basketball (shooting baskets) 30 minutes
    Bicycling 5 miles in 30 minutes
    Dancing fast (social) for 30 minutes
    Water aerobics for 30 minutes
    Swimming laps for 20 minutes
    Basketball (playing game) for 15-20 minutes
    Bicycling 4 miles in 15 minutes
    Jumping rope for 15 minutes
    Running 1½ miles in 15 min. (10min/mile)
    Less Vigorous, More Time

    More Vigorous, Less Time

  • Reducing your calorie intake by 150 calories a day, along with participating in moderate activity, could double your weight loss and is equivalent to approximately 10 pounds in 6 months and 20 pounds in 1 year.


  • One small chocolate chip cookie (50 calories) is equivalent to walking briskly for 10 minutes.
  • The difference between a large gourmet chocolate chip cookie and a small chocolate chip cookie could be about 40 minutes of raking leaves (200 calories).
  • One hour of walking at a moderate pace (20 min/mile) uses about the same amount of energy that is in one jelly filled doughnut (300 calories).
  • A fast food "meal" containing a double patty cheeseburger, extra-large fries and a 24 oz. soft drink is equal to running 2½ hours at a 10 min/mile pace (1500 calories).


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