The Cleveland Clinic

Weight Loss:
Exercise and Weight Control

Regular physical activity is an important part of effective weight control. It helps to control your weight by using excess calories that otherwise would be stored as fat. Exercise also helps prevent many diseases and improve your overall health.

Your weight is determined by the number of calories you eat each day minus what your body uses. Everything you eat contains calories , and everything you do uses calories, including sleeping, breathing, and digesting food. Any physical activity in addition to what you normally do will burn those extra calories.

Balancing the number of calories you expend through exercise and physical activity with the calories you eat will help you achieve your desired weight. The key to successful weight control and improved overall health is making physical activity a part of your daily routine.

What Are the Health Benefits of Exercise?

Research consistently shows that regular exercise, combined with healthy eating, is the most efficient and healthful way to control your weight.

In addition to helping to control your weight, research shows that regular physical activity can reduce your risk for several diseases and conditions and improve your overall quality of life. Regular exercise can help prevent:

  • Heart disease and stroke. Daily physical activity can help prevent heart disease and stroke by strengthening your heart muscle, lowering your blood pressure, raising your HDL ("good" cholesterol) and lowering LDL cholesterol ("bad" cholesterol), improving blood flow, and increasing your heart's working capacity.
  • High blood pressure. Regular exercise reduces blood pressure in people with high blood pressure (hypertension).
  • Diabetes. By reducing body fat, physical activity can help to prevent and control type 2 diabetes.
  • Back pain. By increasing muscle strength and endurance and improving flexibility and posture, regular exercise can prevent back pain.
  • Osteoporosis. Regular weight-bearing exercise promotes bone formation and may prevent many forms of bone loss associated with aging.