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Exercise Habits to Stop Today

Nina Ghamrawi, MS, RD, CDE
December 26, 2022
February 3, 2023

How much physical activity you need depends partly on whether you are trying to maintain your weight or lose it. What are your goals? If you are trying to lose weight, here are some key mistakes that people tend to make that may plummet metabolism and stall weight loss progress. Watch the video!

You Exercise Hard, But Not Often

The week can be busy with visiting, errands, work, and family. Many times, we reserve our hard exercise, or long walks for the weekend, or our days off, instead. Don’t do this. Being sedentary for several days in a row can drop metabolism. Here’s why:

Your muscles are constantly shredding muscle fibers slightly with every movement, and renewing themselves during meals and sleep. This means that your muscle fibers have a turnover time of around 2-4 days. If you work hard on the weekend, but not for the rest of the week, those muscle groups are less likely to maintain the strength that you’ve gained, and also less likely to maintain a revved metabolism several days later.

Exercising hard, but infrequently will also lead to a constant up-down yo-yo pattern in your weight, making it hard to see a lasting improvement or identify a trend.

Instead: Try to exercise often. Specifically, aim for moderate intensity exercise, 5 days per week, and 30 or more minutes per day.

Many academies, including the American Academy of Sports Medicine, American Dietetics Association, American Heart Association, and American Academy of Cardiology all stand behind this.

You Are Not Working Out Hard Enough

Walking is often a good way to add more physical activity to your lifestyle, and will feel like a challenge if you are not typically active. But if you are already exercising, then you may need different types of exercise, or a different intensity to help you sustain your weight loss.

If you’re already walking, for example, and your weight loss is stalling, don’t simply walk more, but give yourself a challenge: walk faster, on a bigger incline, or work different muscle groups! Adding in some biking, hiking, swimming, or strength training to your walking routine will help work different muscles, challenge your body, stimulate metabolism further, and help drop weight.

Instead: Exercise 5 days a week, 30 minutes a day to maintain your weight, and 60 minutes a day for steady weight loss.

Also in each workout day or week, blending together a mixture of activities and muscle groups is often recommended for optimum weight loss.

You exercise on an empty stomach

Please don’t. Well, you can, in a pinch, but it won’t help with weight loss nearly as much as when you’ve already had something in your stomach to burn. If you exercise without any energy onboard, this can push your body into conserving energy instead of using it. Even though you’re working out hard, you may lower metabolism, such that when you eat later, your body thinks that it still needs to store energy, rather than use it to support your workout and replenish your muscles.

Instead: grab a snack before your workout if you haven’t eaten in the last 4 hours, or plan your workout routine to be after a meal.

Want a Sample Workout Routine?

After you’ve already reached your 30 minutes per day lower limit, Here’s a sample workout routine to push past your weight plateau:

  • Monday: Today is going to be busy. I’ll get my exercise in pieces. 5 minutes fast walk after breakfast + 10 minute walk after lunch + 15 minute walk after dinner, + 30 minutes of strength training arms and core.
  • Tuesday: 15 minute walk after lunch + 30 minutes strength training legs and glutes, with 15 minute yoga after dinner
  • Wednesday: 30  minute walk after dinner, + 30 minutes of strength training legs and glutes
  • Thursday: Busy day, and dinner with friends. No exercise but I did a 10-minute workout from UnifiedCare
  • Friday: 30  minute walk after dinner, + 30 minutes of strength training arms and core
  • Saturday: Gardening, lifting stones and digging. This felt like a full-body workout. No more exercise needed.
  • Sunday: Swimming with grandchildren at the local pool. I did 3 laps, with breaks in between.

There you go! Don’t start with this sample routine. If you are not used to moving around, start with 5 minutes a day, just walking or a low-intensity exercise video.