By Aaron King

Exercise Physiologist


What do we need to know to consider what is a ‘healthy’ approach? Nutrition gives us part of the story so it’s important to touch on, although physical activity is the main focus here.

Michael Pollan’s book, “In Defense of Food” provides us with a small nugget of wisdom that most of the population could easily follow. “Eat food, mostly plants, not too much.” This is an extremely simplified statement that many of our clients could keep front of mind. Essentially it means, eat ‘real’ foods rather that highly processed and packaged foods, eat moderate amounts, and eat mostly vegetables. (Yes, this is very simplified, but effective).

Now; onto the exercise. There is a multitude of information regarding weight control, most of which goes largely unregulated. This leads to mass confusion of what is correct. Frequently asked questions include: For weight control when should I exercise? What type of exercise should I do? How much is needed to maintain weight? Can the advertisement of (insert late night exercise product) really make me look like that? The advertiser seems very confident it will? Is there an easier way that requires less work?

As an exercise physiologist & health coach on the we focus on small sustainable steps working towards the overall goal. Small changes are best to ensure sustainable outcomes, generally no more than 10-20% over one week depending on how you feel it’s sustainable over the long term (not for 2 weeks), allowing you to get used to it, before an increase. The first focus of any weight management goal should include steps where a small early ‘win’ can be achieved. This is more likely to motivate you to continue with the goal. Unfortunately this is the same mechanism that fad diets focus on, but without the long term sustainable habit changes that an exercise physiologist will focus on.


When should I exercise for weight loss?

Again there is a multitude of information that leads to confusion. Is it morning before I have eaten? What about at night so I increase metabolism while I sleep? The best time for exercise is at whatever time suits you to ensure consistency of exercise. Consistency is the key over any specific time of day.


What type of exercise is best for weight loss?

Any sort of moving in any fashion is great. Ideally if the individual is able, any exercise that increases the heart rate and gets you puffing a bit (or a lot) is best. It works to help stave of preventable diseases as well as lose weight when combined with good eating habits.

How much exercise is needed for weight loss?

Did you know we actually walk 15kms less per day (yes, kilometres) than we did 150 years ago? No wonder we’re increasing in size. That’s about 2-3 hours per day of what we now call ‘exercise.’ The current recommendation for general health and maintenance is 150 minutes per week (30 mins most days), yet for weight loss, more than this increases the advantage further. This amount is normally between 200-300 mins per week.

Can (insert late night product) help? What is an easier way?

“I saw this product on TV, the person using it looked pretty buff using it for 5 minutes a day and it jiggled the fat away.” Unfortunately the person using the machine isn’t likely to have attained the body through use of this machine. Sorry.

It’s through our sustainable approach that positive habits are developed, to turn exercise into a priority in your life. It becomes part of what you do rather than an ‘option.’ Working on a strategy to create positive habits with flexibility, that becomes part of the routine is the best way to ensure long term weight loss followed by maintenance of the goal.


The best option for healthy, sustained weight control is to choose appropriate portions of good quality foods combined with long term accumulated structured and unstructured activity. 


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