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Getting healthy is hard. Staying healthy can be even harder. And with obesity affected nearly 37% of U.S. adults according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the importance of getting healthy and staying healthy may have more of an impact than just a good-looking body.

According to the CDC, some of the leading causes of preventable death are related to obesity. These include heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and even some forms of cancer. In 2008, the medical costs for those who were obese were $1,400 higher than those who were not obese, and the total medical cost to the country was nearly $150 billion.

Most healthcare professionals believe that exercise and diet are the key to maintaining physical health–and for losing weight. Let’s take a look at those categories.

Americans simply are not getting enough exercise. More than 80% of adults do not meet the guidelines for both aerobic and muscle-strengthening exercises. Less than 5% of adults participate in 30 or more minutes of physical activity per day.

Exercise is often divided into two general categories: aerobic and anaerobic.

Aerobic exercise is one that gets your heart rate pumping and keeps it there for some time. Your heart gets a workout, as do your lungs and the rest of your body. Aerobic activities can include running, walking, swimming, and machines like the elliptical or stair-master. These are sometimes termed as cardiovascular exercises because of the workout your cardio system gets.

Anaerobic exercise is one that is not done for the specific purpose of improving you cardiovascular system. One major example of this type of exercise is weight training. Lifting weights may increase your heart rate in short bursts, but the rest periods calm it down, giving your cardiovascular system a rest.

Many people who are interested in weight loss create or enter into weight loss programs that combine their interests with those two activities. Often, they will seek out professional weight loss help in the form of a center that can handle exercise and nutrition needs.

Diet is the other key component to losing weight and becoming physically healthy. Researchers say that to lose a pound, you need to burn 3,500 calories. Generally, losing a pound per week means adhering to a 500 calorie deficit per day. And the American Journal for Clinical Nutrition that once you get to your target weight calorie counting is a key for many to maintain it.

Professional weight loss help can be in the form of weight loss centers or weight loss clinics. The idea of medical weight loss means you do not have to do in on your own. Many of these centers provide one on one counseling, nutritional guidance, and coaching for exercise. Losing weight and getting physically healthy can be a challenge for many. Do not be afraid to seek outside assistance in the form of professional weight loss help.