How much do you need to exercise to lose weight? In one study, researchers asked people to walk and count an extra 2000 steps each day (Journal of Human Nutrition & Dietetics, August 2006). This is really a minimal amount of exercise. They also kept complete food diaries. They lost weight and did not increase their food intake. When you start an exercise program, your appetite may increase, but this will not increase your caloric intake to equal the extra calories that you burn. For example, if you burn 600 calories with added exercise, you may take in 200 calories extra and you will lose weight.
Exercise helps you lose weight by raising your metabolism so you burn more calories for several hours after you finish exercising. However, only vigorous exercise that increases body temperature and makes you sweat will increase your metabolism enough to continue burning more calories after you finish. Overweight is a major cause of premature death and increases risk for heart attacks, strokes, cancers and arthritis. If you are out of shape and want to lose weight, get a stress cardiogram and ask your doctor to clear you for an exercise program. Start slowly and then gradually increase the intensity of your exercise over several months.