December 15, 2004 | By: Ellen Brightwell
LEXINGTON, Ky.

Most people can lose weight. The hard part is to keep it off.

"That weight you lost has an unpleasant habit of coming back but making physical activity and dietary changes permanent habits will enable you to maintain a healthful weight and a more enjoyable lifestyle," said Sandra Bastin, extension food and nutrition specialist with the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture.

Government statistics reveal that more than 54 percent of all adult Americans are overweight as defined by their body mass index. BMI is a mathematical formula that considers people's height when compiling their correct body weight. Someone with a BMI of 25 is considered overweight; a BMI of 30 or above is classified as obese.

To calculate a BMI, visit http://www.cdc.gov/nccdphp/dnpa/bmi/calc-bmi.htm.

Planned physical activity, especially weight training, helps people lose extra weight by burning more calories because the more muscle they have, the more calories they can burn. Exercising also suppresses the appetite and aids stress reduction.

Bastin said people tend to be less physically active for a number of reasons including hectic schedules and colder temperatures.

"People who exercise at home often are more inclined to follow through on their commitments than if they have to go out into the cold and drive to a workout location," she said. "Dust off the treadmill, bike or other exercise equipment and watch a movie, listen to music or read a book. Cleaning the house seems to go much more quickly when you put on some fast music to dance or sing along. When you are out shopping, park as far away from the destination as safely possible. Remember to take the stairs instead of an elevator."

It also is easier to get into a physical activity routine by exercising with someone else so consider playing games such as charades, learning a new dance step or using an exercise video.

"Physical activity will improve your health by reducing disease risks," Bastin said. "For example, gaining 11 to 18 pounds will double a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes; gaining 44 or more pounds means a fourfold increase in your risk of this disease. Regular physical activity also will make you feel good by prompting your body to release substances that may boost the immune system and reduce stress."

The local office of the Kentucky Cooperative Extension Service has more information about losing weight and other ways to improve your and your family's health.

Contact: 

Writer: Ellen Brightwell 859-257-4736 ext. 257
Source: Sandra Bastin 859-257-1812