Each week, we’ll highlight some of our favorite healthy habits and the benefits behind them. We’ll also share a quick and simple tip from Heather Lake, a Jenny Craig Health & Lifestyle Contributor, to help support your weight loss goals and inspire you throughout the day! This 12-week series will focus on everything from exercise tips for beginners to delicious ways to incorporate more protein into your meals.
Hi, I'm Heather Lake, a health and lifestyle contributor for Jenny Craig. Here's your tip for the week: Move more. Moving doesn’t just help aches and pains from stiff joints — it’s a great way to relieve some stress, gain some clarity and carve out some time to enjoy with friends. Whether you only have a quick break to sneak some movement into your day or find an activity you’re able to enjoy a few times a week, being active is an important part of improving your overall health. Here are a couple of ideas to get started: If you’re strapped for time, try going on a 5 to 10-minute walk on your lunch break — breaking up your activity is just as beneficial as doing it all in one session! If the gym isn’t your thing — find an activity that’s more your style! Get involved in an intramural sports club or grab your friends and start a walking club before work!
How much exercise do I need?
Paired with a healthy, balanced diet, exercise can be a fun and engaging way to support your weight loss efforts.
According to the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, adults should aim to get a minimum of 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity aerobic exercise (activities that pump up your heart and breathing rates) for substantial health benefits.1 A combination of the two is fine, and ideally, it would be done throughout the week. A review of multiple studies found that regularly exercising more than the minimum recommendation (150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise) may be more likely to help with weight loss and maintenance in the long term.2
If you’re just beginning to introduce physical activity into your day, start slowly! You can always increase the length and intensity of your sessions as you get used to being more active. For more exercise tips, check out the Beginner’s Guide to Exercise.
5 exercises for beginners
When weight loss is your goal, it’s important to create a calorie deficit: burning more calories than you consume. Paired with a healthy, balanced diet, finding more ways to be active throughout the day can support your weight loss efforts. Here are some quick ways to get started — no fancy gym equipment required!
1. Take a brisk walk.
Walking may not seem like the most intense activity, but with a little time and patience, it can be a surprisingly effective way to burn calories. To get the right technique, the Mayo Clinic recommends the following:3
- Keep your head held high and look forward, not down.
- Move your shoulders.
- Keep your back straight, rather than leaning forward or backward.
- Move your arms and bend your elbows slightly.
- Tighten your stomach muscles to work your core.
- When you take a step, let your heel connect with the ground and roll your foot forward to press your toes against the ground.
Try it: Amp up your walk by adding a hill or trying a few high-intensity intervals, where you’ll walk as fast as you can for a short burst, then slow to a more moderate pace. Want more tips? Try these 12 ways to start a walking routine you can stick with.
2. Hit the stairs.
Climbing the stairs uses 8-10 times more energy than when you’re at rest.4 Regularly taking the stairs has been linked to a lower risk of stroke in men5 and when done post- meal, may decrease blood glucose levels in people with Type 2 diabetes.6 Taking the stairs has also been shown to improve fitness and body composition.4
Try it: Take a short walk down a flight or two of stairs, then make your way back up. With a little practice, you can increase your speed and the number of stairs you climb.
Photo by Artsplav on iStock
3. Try incline push-ups.
You can ease your way into strength training by using slightly modified moves. Instead of traditional push-ups, try incline push-ups against a wall, which work the same muscles but don’t require you to get onto the floor. They’re a great way to begin building strength in your arms, shoulders, back and core.
Try it: Stand a couple feet away from a wall, then press your hands against the wall, slightly more than shoulder width apart. Keep your feet together, then line up your feet and your body to stay parallel to the wall. Slowly bend your elbows to move as close as you can to the wall. Exhale as you push up until your arms are straight, but not locked.
Photo by undrey on iStock
4. Plank it out.
Holding a plank position works tons of muscles in your core, back, shoulders and arms. If your arms start to shake while you’re holding a plank, lower yourself down and rest before trying again. The more you practice, the easier it will get!
Try it: Get down on all fours, resting your weight on your knees and forearms. Keep your arms directly underneath your shoulders. Walk your feet straight back to extend your legs and keep your toes pressed against the ground. Tighten your abdominal muscles, keep your hips parallel to the ground and look down (focus on maintaining a relatively straight back). Hold this for 10 seconds, gently lower yourself to the ground, and try again.
Photo by LeoPatrizi on iStock
5. Have a seat.
A wall sit helps to strengthen the quadriceps muscles in your legs and your lower abs.
Try it: Stand with your back touching the wall. Your feet should be shoulder-width apart. Slowly bend your knees to lower yourself in a sitting position, while keeping your back straight against the wall. Remember to breathe! Hold this for 10 seconds, then stand up slowly and repeat.
6. Ready, set, stretch!
Always remember to stretch after physical activity. Stretching helps to keep your muscles and tendons flexible, which is especially helpful after a workout. Experiment with a variety of stretches to work different muscles.
Try it: Standing up straight, bend down to touch your toes — if you can’t make it, don’t worry! Go as far as feels comfortable and hold the position for 15-30 seconds. Come back up to standing and repeat a few times. Or, try a side and arm stretch: Reach one arm over your opposite shoulder toward your back, while lightly pressing on your upper arm with the opposite hand.
Just remember: You can ease into an exercise routine by gradually increasing your activity. For extra tips to add movement into your day, these six exercises are great for beginners, and you won’t even need to break a sweat!
Exercise isn’t the only way to boost your weight loss — what you eat and the support you receive matter, too. Jenny Craig offers delicious, balanced meal plans and the help of a personal weight loss consultant to support you throughout your journey. Looking for more ways to build healthy habits and benefit your weight loss? Get these 10 simple tips!
Stephanie Eng-Aponte is a copywriter for Jenny Craig and has written for the health and wellness, tech, and environmental industries. Stephanie graduated from Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism and Media Studies. They employ an “eat first, write later” approach to food blogging and enjoy the occasional Oxford comma. Outside of writing, you can find them photographing a muttley crew of rescue pups, brewing kombucha, or exploring San Diego.
Favorite healthy snack: green apple slices with sunflower butter
Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.
Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)
This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and fact-checked by Briana Rodriquez, RDN, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist at Jenny Craig.
Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy.
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