When it comes to lifestyle changes, diet and exercise usually go hand-in-hand. There's a good reason for that. Research has shown that when diet and exercise are paired people see greater weight loss results than with diet alone (exercise alone generally yields little to no result for weight loss).
But exercise does more than just burn calories. It helps lower blood pressure and improve blood lipid levels. It can help stabilize blood glucose levels (if you're diabetic and on insulin or a medication like Glipizide talk to you doctor or diabetes educator before starting an exercise routine). It also helps to reduce stress, and create endorphins, which improves your mood (as those of us who saw Legally Blonde will remember).
The idea of starting exercise can be scary and overwhelming. Gyms can be intimidating. But exercising doesn't have to mean going to the gym and running on the treadmill (unless that's what you want it to mean). There are so many ways to meet your physical activity goals. The best way to create an exercise routine you will stick to is to do something that you enjoy. It can be as simple as starting to walk or hike regularly with your friends, to as intense as finding an intramural sport available in your community (like dodgeball, softball, or volleyball) and joining the league.
Current recommendations for physical activity are 150 minutes/week of moderate exercise (brisk walking/hiking, playing tennis, etc) or 75 minutes/week of intense exercise (running, swimming laps, etc). So, for moderate exercise that breaks down to 30 minutes of exercise 5 days a week, which if you're starting from square one can feel like a lot. So instead of aiming for 30 minutes, start with a goal of 10 minutes a day for 5 days in a week, then increase your goal from there. Some is better than none, so do what you can and be proud of your accomplishment!
Taryn is a Los Angeles based Registered Dietitian who's passionate about helping you be your healthiest you.