Q: Which matters more when it comes to weight loss: food and calorie intake or exercise?

A: Oh, yes, it’s that time of year again: time to kick those New Year’s resolutions into high gear, dust off the weight and food scales, hit the gym, and ask critical questions about losing weight. (However, I wish more people asked, “What does it take to keep lost pounds off?” Just sayin’!)

For starters, let’s define what is meant by exercise.

There are two main types of exercise. Aerobic exercise is defined as rhythmic, full-body physical activity that causes your heart rate to increase. The latest government physical activity guidelines recommend that adults get at least 21/2 hours of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise a week or an hour and a quarter of vigorous-intensity activity, or a combination of both.

Resistance training is the other main type of exercise. It’s defined as exercise that strengthens major muscle groups by challenging them to near-exhaustion in eight to 12 repetitions. The same guidelines recommend that adults engage in muscle-strengthening activities at least twice per week.

Research exploring the health hazards of our sedentary culture has generated recommendations to add reducing sedentary behavior as a third exercise goal. Sedentary behavior is defined as all behaviors associated with sitting and reclining for which you expend low levels of energy and burn minimal calories. According to the American College of Sports Medicine, long periods of sedentary activity have, independent of the amount of aerobic and resistance training one does, emerged as a risk factor for the development of prediabetes, Type 2 diabetes, and heart and blood-vessel diseases. Goal 1: Don’t go more than 90 minutes without moving (other than when you’re sleeping).

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