January 7, 2020
For many people, the new year is seen as a clean slate and an opportunity to make a fresh start by changing one’s daily habits in the quest towards self-improvement. Under this banner, one of the most common goals set this time of year is to lose weight, often as a New Year’s resolution. January also happens to be National Healthy Weight Awareness Month, which coincides well with the high motivation levels that so many people have at the start of a new year. With this in mind, our Hyattsville physical therapists would like to discuss the numerous benefits of losing weight and offer some realistic suggestions to help you lose weight in 2020.
National Healthy Weight Awareness Month is an annual campaign that encourages individuals of all ages, weights, sizes, and ability levels to improve their health and wellbeing by becoming more physically active and eating more nutritiously. According to the CDC, maintaining a healthy weight means that an individual is able to keep his or her weight within a specific range that is based on their height, sex, fat and muscle composition, and frame size. More than two-thirds of Americans are overweight or obese, which shows that a significant number of individuals would stand to benefit from losing some amount of weight.
Being overweight or obese is associated with a plethora of health conditions, with osteoarthritis (OA) sitting high on this list. OA occurs when protective cartilage in joints begins to decrease in size, which leaves the bones more vulnerable to contacting one another and potential damage, resulting in pain and reduced function. The joints in the body’s lower half—particularly the knees and hips—bear most of the weight from the rest of the body, and excess weight can add to the strain on these joints and wear away their cartilage.
This is why individuals who are overweight or obese have a significantly higher risk for developing hip and knee OA, with some studies suggesting the risk may be 4-5 times higher than in those of a normal weight. Losing weight, therefore, can both reduce the risk for developing OA and slow its progression in those who already have it. One study found that overweight individuals who lost as little as 11 pounds were able to decrease the progression of knee OA by 50%. Other benefits of losing weight include:
- Reduces overall pain levels
- Improves physical function
- Lowers inflammation levels
- Cuts the risk for many chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and stroke
- Makes breathing easier
- Leads to a longer lifespan
How to take charge of your diet and activity levels from our Hyattsville physical therapists
The heart of every weight-loss program should include strategies to both improve one’s diet and increase physical activity levels. There are countless approaches you can take to lose weight, but below are some of the most important general tips from our Hyattsville physical therapists to get you started:
- Count (and reduce) calories: the most obvious first step of any plan to lose weight should be to regulate and reduce your daily intake of calories
- To lose weight, most experts recommend consuming anywhere from 1,000-1,500 calories per day, which depends on several factors
- Cut sugars and starches: both of these carbohydrates stimulate the secretion of insulin, which is the main fat storage hormone of the body
- When you reduce the amount of insulin in your blood, fat can be released from fat stores, which allows the body to burn it instead of carbs
- Read labels and be sure to watch out for unnecessary added sugars
- Add protein and vegetables: if you are reducing sugars and starches from your diet, you should be replacing them with lean sources of protein and veggies
- Doing so will balance your blood sugar and stabilize your energy levels
- Focus on lean meats, seafood and eggs, the healthiest protein sources
- Exercise: frequent exercise should serve as the foundation for every weight-loss program
- Aim for 150 minutes of moderate-intensity (brisk walking) or 75 minutes of high-intensity (jogging) physical activity per week
- Be sure to include strength training as well, which will also help burn calories and speed up your metabolism
- Reduce your plate and portion size
- Make healthy foods visible
- Drink lots of water regularly
- Don’t skip meals
- Plan your meals out in advance
- Give healthy frozen meals a try
If you’re committing yourself to losing weight in 2020, our Hyattsville physical therapists can help with the physical activity component by providing you with a personalized exercise plan based on your abilities and goals. Contact CAM Physical Therapy and Wellness Services at 301-892-5336 to schedule an appointment at any of our four clinics in Laurel, Hyattsville, Glenn Dale/Bowie, or Silver Spring, MD, or click here to learn more about how losing weight can alleviate painful issues.