I should take a moment to say that although being obese is unhealthy and can lead to many health problems, being a bit overweight is not necessarily as much of a problem as people tend to think. People who are a bit heavy are often stronger and have more energy . Studies recently even show that being a bit overweight does not increase cholesterol issues or heart issues or any particular health problems. Losing excess weight can be good, but our society is far too focused on becoming skinny, which seldom works and is not necessarily healthy either. In fact, drastically losing too much weight too quickly can be very damaging on many levels. And being too skinny can cause health problems and sometimes even affect fertility.
Some diets can be helpful temporarily to control weight or prevent weight gain, but in the long run most diet fads are hard to stick to and do not yield long lasting results. But if a person does want to lose weight, I believe balanced , healthy eating is the key, not extreme diets that starve a person or that cut out important parts of the food chain. Extreme diets are not sustainable in the long run and people tend to end up too focused on food , which is not healthy psychologically or emotionally.
People talk a lot about exercise. In previous generations, nobody thought about exercise; it was a normal part of life. People walked, as nobody had cars. People worked hard, chopping wood, carrying water from the wells etc. Life was full of activity. Now we have a far more sedentary lifestyle and a big problem with obesity. Therefore,we need to do some form of physical activity. The best exercise is often the simplest: walking every day. One can swim, dance, do aerobics, work out in a gym, all depending upon one’s physical condition, abilities etc. The main thing is to make an effort to do more physical work than we are accustomed to. Don’t be afraid to shlep groceries, to walk instead of driving to somewhere not too far etc. Just add more activity than you normally would. That constitutes exercise and it adds to one’s health and sense of well being. Often depression dissipates when one is more active. There are people who have clogged arteries and actually walk their way to good health: they often are old people but just the additional walking (usually coupled with a healthier diet) brings new health. The body has an amazing ability to heal if we give it the right tools and opportunities.
Extreme or more strenuous exercise routines are good for certain people, but not for everyone. Some people have heart issues or other issues where they really cannot do heavy exercise and it is contraindicated for them. So again, it is all about balance according to one’s individual circumstances.
I believe people in general need a good exercise program or routine, even if it is just taking a long walk every day. Exercise is useful for everything. And it does not have to be an extreme, overly strenuous exercise routine: just something that keeps one moving, gets circulation going and burns calories in a healthy way. When we do not exercise, we also cannot digest food well or maintain the best of health. In fact, Maimonides writes that one should not eat breakfast until working up a bit of a sweat or walking to heat up the body somewhat. It is not healthy to get out of bed and eat immediately. One needs to do a bit of exercise to help for digestion and proper elimination.
Besides walking and swimming and other exercise routines, if possible it is very good to swim in the ocean (either when on vacation or if one lives near a beach). The ocean provides minerals and helps improve many body functions.