Exercise Plan for the Atkins Diet

Exercising while you're on the Atkins Diet is "nonnegotiable," according to "Dr. Atkins' New Diet Revolution." The diet's major principle is that body fat is caused by excess blood sugar. Exercising improves how efficiently your blood sugar is used. You also exercise more efficiently when you eat a high-fat, high-calorie diet, wrote the late Dr. Robert Atkins. Atkins has three exercise plans -- one each for younger, middle-aged and older people.

Fat and Performance

Increasing the percentage of fatty foods you eat improves your endurance while you exercise, according to "Diet Revolution." The Atkins Diet is a low-carbohydrate diet because Atkins believed that carbohydrates raise blood sugar levels and body fat. Consequently, Atkins' dieters eat a higher percentage of fat than dieters who comply with the recommendations of the U.S. Department of Agriculture and health-related groups such as the American Heart Association. Atkins wrote that a diet with 42 percent fat "increases maximal oxygen consumption and endurance capacity."

No Calorie Restrictions

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"Overexercising" while eating a diet low in calories, fat and protein slows metabolism and weakens muscles, according to Atkins. In essence, the same amount of exercise is beneficial when you're on a low-carbohydrate diet but harmful on a high-carb diet. The Atkins Diet doesn't restrict calories. Most exercise experts, including ""Swim, Bike, Run" authors Glenn Town and Todd Kearney and "The Complete Guide To Walking" author Mark Fenton, agree that calories help exercise but write that you exercise better on a high-carb diet.

30 Minutes of Exercise

Atkins recommends a daily minimum of 30 minutes of physical activity. He reports that in 30 minutes, a 160-pound person burns 460 calories running an 8-minute mile, 375 calories swimming, 260 calories weight training, 175 calories walking, 280 calories doing rigorous gardening activities such as digging and 120 calories raking. Heavier people burn more calories; lighter people burn fewer. You lose 1 pound when you burn 3,500 calories in excess of what you take in.

How to Get Started

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You should consult your doctor before starting an exercise plan. If you have a body mass index higher than 35, have a serious health condition such as heart disease or hypertension and are at least 50 years old, you should choose the easiest of the three exercise programs. Although you should eventually exercise 30 minutes daily, you should begin with 10 minutes twice a week. The recommended exercises include stretching, yoga and light bicycling, swimming and walking.

Levels of Difficulty

The three exercise plans' "criteria" might not match your characteristics. Choose one. The most difficult plan is for people under 35 years old with a BMI less than 30. It recommends intense exercises such as jogging, racquetball and basketball and increasing your workout from 20 minutes three days weekly to 30 minutes daily. The medium-difficulty plan is for 35- to 50-year-olds with a 30 to 35 BMI. It recommends moderate exercises such as brisk walking, dancing and lap swimming and increasing your workout from 15 minutes three days weekly to 30 minutes daily.