Get off the Couch to Ward off Weight Creep
Weight gain from overeating can sometimes be avoided if you also exercise more. Here are some easy ways to avoid "weight creep.

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Picture of heavy boy laying on the couch Get off the Couch to Ward off Weight Creep

It can happen during football season, in your first few weeks at college or during the holidays. "Weight creep" is the unwanted pounds that suddenly seem to show up on the scale.

You may think that a couple of pounds here and there is no big deal. When it happens every holiday season, though, it can add up. If you are overweight, shedding as few as 5 pounds can make a difference in your health.

Watching what you eat and exercising may be the best way to keep a check on weight creep. How much exercise you need depends on the amount and type of the activity, and how much you eat. The more calories you consume, the longer or harder you have to work to burn them off.

Burning off calories
A medium-sized adult would have to walk more than 30 miles to burn 3,500 calories, or 1 pound of fat. Although that may seem like a lot, you don't have to walk the 30 miles all at once. Every step helps:

  • Walk your kids to the bus stop instead of driving them.
  • Take a walk during your lunch hour and spend more time moving than eating.
  • Walk across campus from class to class instead of hitching a ride.
  • Take a 10-minute walk after a meal.

These are small steps. They don't require a big change in your life, but they can make a big difference.

Always check with your doctor before you increase your activity level or start any new physical activity or exercise program.

The goal for a healthy lifestyle should include an average of at least 30 minutes of moderate intensity aerobic exercise most days of the week. Even if you walk for 10 minutes, 3 times a day, you've reached your 30 minutes. To lose weight, you need to exercise more than that - for 60 to 90 minutes most days of the week.

Do something you like
Walking is a popular option for people looking to start getting fit. If this is your choice, start slowly. Gradually put some swing in your arms and increase your speed and distance. After a while, you may want to add 3- to 5-pound hand weights to burn more calories and to gain more definition in your upper body. Check with your doctor first to ensure the weights won't aggravate an existing problem, such as arthritis.

Also make sure you pick an exercise that you enjoy. If you pick something you like, you're more likely to stick with it. Choose an activity that is right for your lifestyle, too.

Finally, "no pain, no gain" is a fallacy. Exercise should tire you, but it should never be painful.

By Barbara Kunz, PhD, Staff Writer
Created on 12/23/1999
Updated on 07/18/2011
  • The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease. Physical activity and weight control.
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Be active your way: a guide for adults.
Copyright © OptumHealth.
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