The Secrets of Success: Move It to Lose It

By , SparkPeople Blogger
How much exercise do you really need to lose weight? You've probably heard a lot of conflicting opinions from different experts. Some have even said that exercise doesn't help with weight-loss at all (more on that one later). What better way to find out than to ask the most successful weight "losers" how much exercise played a role in their healthy lifestyle?

When we were researching and writing our best-selling book, The Spark, we discovered 27 secrets of success that thousands of successful SparkPeople members have used to lose weight and keep it off. We're sharing our 15 favorite secrets of success on the dailySpark from March 1-15. Today we'll share the results of our survey on how much exercise SparkPeople members really did to reach their goals.

Secret #6: Move it to lose it.
Of those who reached their goals, 90% exercised regularly. How much exercise did they really do?

Okay, the idea of exercising to lose weight and increase your fitness level is not news. But these survey statistics make a powerful case for it. Of those who reached their weight-loss goals, 90% exercise regularly—an average of 5 to 6 times per week. People who reported being "stuck" (or NOT meeting their weight-loss goals) were significantly less likely to exercise. And those who did exercised less than the successful group—three or fewer times per week.

Recent news stories have questioned whether exercise really helps you lose weight. And when it comes to weight loss, what's the first thing people do? Diet. But experts have known for a long time that weight-loss happens more easily and consistently when people combine dietary changes with an increase in physical activity. That powerful combination allows you to eat a little more than dieting alone does (while still losing weight), burn more calories (to enhance your weight loss), and help reshape your body so that you see great results, which motivate you to continue.

Don't be intimidated by these stats. If you only exercise twice a week, that doesn't mean you're doomed to fail at weight loss. A little exercise is better than none at all, especially when it's done consistently. It doesn't have to be strenuous, long or boring either. Beginners should always start slower—with shorter workouts and fewer sessions each week—as they gradually build up their fitness levels anyway, so those 10-minute sessions you're squeezing in to your day are really working! In addition, exercise offers so many benefits to your body and your health beyond weight loss.

In case you need a little more convincing (or motivation), here are some SparkPeople resources that make the case for adding exercise to your healthy lifestyle.
For more secrets to success plus dozens of at-home strength and cardio workouts that you won't find online, read The Spark.

Did you miss a secret? Find all the rest of the series of 15 here (a new one is posted every day through March 15).

How about you: Is exercise one of your secrets to success? How has it made a difference in your weight-loss or body composition?