Dr. Zach Turner: The best exercise for weight loss

Weight loss exercises for all ages – and foods to avoid before a workout. photo/123RF

Ask Dr. Zack is a weekly column that assists readers in their health and well-being endeavors.

Question: Hey Dr. Zack, the only way to accomplish your New Year’s resolution is to do it with someone else, because you can make each other feel bad if you don’t do anything. With this in mind, my entire family has decided that 2023 is the year of being healthy!

We’ve decided to lose weight together, but I’m at a loss how my teenage son can play sports with his 75-year-old grandmother. What are the best exercises for each age group? And what is the best time to exercise?

This may sound like a stupid question, but what are the best exercises for losing weight? Are there foods we should avoid at all costs this year if we want to lose weight? – Karina, 49 years old, New South Wales

Answer: Hi Karina, great question! I think coming to a New Year’s resolution with someone, or a whole group of people, is a great way to get things done. Teamwork makes the dream work, as they say.

There’s a lot to unpack here, so I’ll break it down into bite-sized sections. There is nothing worse than getting started and getting overwhelmed with confusing information. You have all year to complete the solution, so I recommend you add one thing at a time to your exercise regimen.

Most resolutions are abandoned in January because people go all out and burn out. I will make one recommendation, that instead of losing weight, you can shift your aspirations to being healthy. If you lead a healthy lifestyle, you will lose weight as a bonus.

The other important thing to remember is that starting small will lead to more. We often think that to achieve something big, we need to plan, schedule and prepare. While it’s good to plan, let’s not forget that if you can immediately make a small change to what you’re already doing, cumulatively I’m betting it will have a massive impact in just a few months.

“I will make one recommendation, that instead of losing weight, you shift your aspirations to being healthy. If you adopt a healthy lifestyle, you will lose weight as a reward.” Image/Brett Phipps

Let’s start with five great exercises for losing weight

Walking

Sounds simple, right? But it is always the first starting point that I would recommend to patients looking to start exercising. You can do it anywhere, with anyone, at any time. No need to spend money on equipment, and it puts limited stress on your joints. Perfect for teen and grandma.

swimming

Another simple exercise you can pick up that has great health benefits. It is low impact and almost everyone in towns or cities has a local group they can join.

Cycling

Studies have linked this comprehensive exercise to a lower risk of chronic disease. The whole family can participate. I recommend finding a cycle ring, and letting the family take their own pace.

Yoga

Don’t waste your money on expensive yoga class memberships. Have your family set up an impromptu studio in Chuck’s living room Youtube Even on TV. There are thousands of free yoga classes.

weight training

I’d be wrong if I didn’t include weight training on this list. You’ll burn calories during and after your workout, while building muscle mass to improve your overall strength. Your family can vary weights depending on age and strength. And yes, Nana must definitely be doing weightlifting, too. This will improve her mobility and maintain her independence as she ages.

“Studies have linked this comprehensive exercise to a lower risk of chronic disease. The whole family can participate.” Photo/Warren Buckland

The best exercises for every age group

teens

Adolescents should first aim to build a positive body image and well-being. This can be achieved by setting standards for older adults as role models, while also learning how to adopt healthy practices into their lifestyle.

They should aim to get around 60 minutes of exercise per day, and can enjoy a variety of physical activities. This can be gym training, playing sports with friends, jogging, walking or doing push-ups at home.

grown ups

Adults should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week. This could be as simple as a brisk walk in the morning or a bike ride.

There should also be a minimum of twice a week strength training. I recommend attending an interval training session at your local gym.

Elderly

Like adults, seniors should aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate exercise per week and strength training twice per week.

They should also improve their balance in the exercise, which can include things as simple as standing on one foot.

You need to find a time of day that works for you well, and that you will stick to.  Photo/New Zealand Herald Photography by Brett Phipps
You need to find a time of day that works for you well, and that you will stick to. Photo/New Zealand Herald Photography by Brett Phipps

The best time of the day to exercise

I’m sorry to say, but the best time comes down to your preference. You need to find a time of day that works for you well, and that you will stick to. Some prefer first thing in the morning, others in the afternoon. Consistency is key to your workout.

Nuts are full of healthy fats, but they are not good for pre-workout.  It slows down the digestion process.  Photo/Prateek Pakhav, Unsplash
Nuts are full of healthy fats, but they are not good for pre-workout. It slows down the digestion process. Photo/Prateek Pakhav, Unsplash

Foods to avoid (pre-workout)

Nuts

These are packed with healthy fats but aren’t very good for pre-workout. It slows down the digestion process. Before you work out, you want all of your food to be digested and converted into energy to be burned. Nuts will slow down the process.

Broccoli

I love broccoli, but do not recommend eating it before a workout. It’s rich in raffinose, an indigestible carbohydrate that can lead to flatulence and excess gas.

dairy

Leave the yogurt, cheese and milk for post-workout. The high fat content will make you feel tired and increase the stomach acid content. This will make you feel gassy and bloated.

Soft drinks

Don’t be fooled by the idea that a sugary kick from a soft drink will keep you energized for your workout. The sugar high kick will make you bloated and nauseous. You will then go into a miserable drunken breakdown.

Don't waste your money on expensive yoga class memberships.  Have your family set up an impromptu studio in the living room and play YouTube on the TV.  There are thousands of free yoga classes.  Photo / Getty Images
Don’t waste your money on expensive yoga class memberships. Have your family set up an impromptu studio in the living room and play YouTube on the TV. There are thousands of free yoga classes. Photo / Getty Images

Think of some things you and your family already do regularly. Write it down and let us see the things you do regularly like chatting on the phone or listening to music or podcasts. Now if you combine this with setting aside 20 minutes of walking, it’s life-enhancing.

We all eat and drink and we all have vices, and I’m not telling you to get rid of them. Maybe eventually, over time we can make some small adjustments but tomorrow just add a carrot and a cup of water to everyone’s snack boxes and see how it goes.

Another tip is to eat fruits and water first thing in the day which means you won’t forget and having them before lunch will keep you feeling fuller for longer and speed up your metabolism.

As little as 1 to 2 percent changes across a few areas of your life over several months, let alone years, and you’ll start to see changes across all age groups of the family.

Good luck on your trip! May 2023 really be a year of good health for your family!

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