Ask A Doc : Dr. Jennifer Sandy, Bariatrician and Medical Director for Medical Weight Loss at NOCHS Bariatric Clinic

How much exercise is necessary for weight loss?

Physical activity is extremely important in overall health, psychological well-being, and weight control. Research shows, however, that exercise is even more important in helping you keep the weight off long term. I recommend finding an activity you enjoy and will continue doing regularly. Ideally, you would do a combination of cardiovascular exercises such as walking, running, biking and activities to strengthen such as weight lifting, resistance band exercises, or body weight exercises (like squats, push-ups, etc.).  Regardless, the activity you choose does not need to be expensive or fancy. It just has to be something you continue long term. Finding a partner to keep you motivated can help you show up even when you would rather not. If you are competitive, finding a race or joining a local team sport can be a great option as well to keep you engaged.

Are there any health consequences to losing weight and regaining it again?

The New England Journal of Medicine just released a study in April looking at this issue.  People who have significant weight fluctuations are at increased risk for heart disease, stroke, and even death. The risk was highest for those with the greatest weight variability. The take home from this study is that it is important to strive for a healthier weight that you can maintain and avoid fad diets that promise big results with very little long term changes in your habits. For many, a 5-10% weight loss (10-20lbs for a 200lb person) significantly reduces health risks as well as other quality of life measures such as joint pain and fatigue. If you have weight to lose, talk with your doctor about support for keeping it off. There are several options that include weight loss classes, counseling to keep your habits in line with your goals, medications to help with weight loss and keeping the weight off, and temporary or permanent weight loss procedures.

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