Regular physical activity can prevent weight gain (Cochrane 2006)

Physical activity is a core part of maintaining a healthy weight and has huge benefits for your health even if you do not lose weight (Cochrane 2006)


Exercise is not an efficient way to lose weight on its own– you have to do very high levels of physical activity to lose weight without changing your diet (SASA).

However, when combined with changing your diet the amount of weight loss increases substantially (Cochrane 2006; SASA).

Exercise reduces the amount of fat inside your body (around your intestines and organs) it is this fat which is the most dangerous in obesity, so even if you are not losing weight, you will be improving your health (Kay 2006; Vissers 2013)

Although not effective at weight loss on its own, increased physical activity when obese substantially reduces the chance of death from heart attacks (Blair 2009)


If you are overweight you need to do 45-60 minutes of moderate intensity physical activity per day to prevent further weight gain (NICE).

If you have lost weight you should aim to do 60-90 minutes per day of moderate-intensity physical activity to avoid regaining weight (NICE).

The most successful physical activity programmes in overweight people involve supervised and timetabled group sessions with people of similar sex & age so try and find a local group to join to maximise your chance of success (McGuire 1999)

Aim to do low impact activities such as swimming and cycling as they are generally more comfortable and safer for your joints (Burton 2012)

To reduce the amount of visceral fat, higher intensity physical activity is best (Vissers 2013). If you’re aiming for this it should be hard to have a conversation whilst you exercise.

Further resources for Healthcare Professionals

Motivate to Move - Obesity
FYSS - Obesity