When film protagonist Bridget Jones (played by Renee Zellweger) took to the exercise bicycle to get in shape for a new job, things didn't go too well; she tumbled off the bike.
Her character's struggles were pretty true-to-life. It's hard for most folks to use exercise correctly, so that it promotes weight loss and eases stress and anxiety.
Two recent studies explain just what makes it so difficult.
Exercise and weight loss. Though it doesn't seem to make sense, for most people exercise is not the route to weight loss — even if it burns calories. A study published in the journal Nutrients showed that 30 minutes after folks work out, they chow down enthusiastically — and indiscriminately. And the more they exercised, the more they ate.
Exercise and stress reduction. Physical activity is a great way to dispel stress and anxiety, but researchers from McMasters University found that stress blocks even active people from working out. Anxious study volunteers reported that despite wanting to exercise, they were doing 20 minutes less aerobics and 30 minutes less strength training and were sedentary for 30 more minutes every day.
To reach your goals for weight loss and stress reduction, try these tips:
• For stress management, remember some exercise is better than none.
• For weight management, have a post-workout snack prepared: celery sticks, carrots, an orange, and plenty of water.
• For both, take movement breaks throughout the day. They won't trigger hunger, and they'll ease stress.
• Make workout appointments with yourself; put them in your daily calendar.