Many of us want to lose weight, and besides dieting, exercise is one of the most common methods used by those looking to lose the excess poundage.
Exercise burns calories, and this is a key factor in weight loss. It has also been linked to other health benefits, including stronger bones, improved mood, and a reduced risk of some chronic diseases.
Here’s a rundown of the 8 best exercises for weight loss:
Walking is considered one of the best weight loss exercises, as it’s convenient and easy for beginners to start – as well as being free!
Harvard Health estimates that a 155 pound person burns around 167 calories per 30 minutes of walking at a moderate pace of 4 mph.
You can easily fit walking in to your daily routine by taking a walk during your lunch break, taking the stairs at work, or taking your dog out for extra walks.
Aim to walk for 30 minutes 3-4 times a week at first, then increase the duration or frequency as you become fitter.
2. Jogging or Running
Jogging and running may seem very similar, but jogging is generally a slower pace between 4-6 mph, while running is faster than 6 mph.
Harvard Health estimates that a 155 pound person burns around 298 calories per 30 minutes of jogging at 5 mph, and 372 calories per 30 minutes of running at 6 mph.
Studies have also shown that jogging and running can help get rid of visceral fat, which is the type of belly fat that wraps around your organs and has been linked to chronic conditions like diabetes or heart disease.
Jogging and running can be added to your exercise routine, and to start with, aim to jog for 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times a week.
Jogging or running on hard surfaces can be painful on your joints, so try running on softer surfaces such as grass or trails. Lots of treadmills also have cushioning, giving your joints an easier workout.
Cycling can improve your fitness level and help you lose weight. Although it’s usually done outdoors, lots of gyms have stationary bikes that let you cycle indoors.
Harvard Health estimates that a 155 pound person burns around 260 calories per 30 minutes of cycling on a stationary bike at a moderate pace of 12-13.9 mph.
Cycling is also great for better overall fitness, increased insulin sensitivity, and a lower risk of heart disease, cancer, and death, according to studies.
As cycling is a non-weight-bearing exercise it won’t place so much stress on your joints.
4. Weight Training
Weight training remains ever-popular with those looking to lose weight.
Harvard Health estimates that a 155 pound person can burn around 112 calories per 30 minutes of weight training.
Weight training can also boost your metabolism by building strength and stimulating muscle growth. A six-month study showed that doing only 11 minutes of strength-based exercises 3 times a week resulted in a 7.4% increase in metabolic rate. In this study, the increase was equivalent to burning an extra 125 calories per day.
Many other studies have shown that your body carries on burning calories for hours after a weight-training session, compared with aerobic exercise.
5. Interval Training
Interval training is commonly known as high-intensity interval training (HIIT), which is a term that refers to short and intense bursts of exercise, alternating with recovery periods.
A HIIT workout lasts from 10-30 minutes, and burns a lot of calories. One study of 9 active men found that HIIT burns 25-30% more calories per minute than other exercise, including weight training, cycling, and running on a treadmill.
Numerous other studies have also shown that HIIT is effective at burning belly fat, which is linked to several chronic diseases.
HIIT can be part of your exercise routine. Choose a type of exercise, like running, jumping, or cycling, and your exercise and rest times.
An example is pedaling as hard as you can on a bike for 30 seconds, followed by cycling at a slower pace for 1-2 minutes, and repeating this pattern form 10-30 minutes.
Swimming is easy on the joints and a good way to lose weight.
Harvard Health says that a 155 pound person burns around 233 calories per half hour of swimming.
Different strokes seem to burn different amounts of calories. For example, backstroke burns around 298 calories, breaststroke around 372 calories, and butterfly burns around 409. Even treading water burns 372 calories.
Because swimming is low-impact, it’s easier for your joints to handle, especially if you have injuries or joint pain.
Yoga isn’t generally thought of as a way to lose weight, but it does burn a fair few calories and has extra health benefits.
Harvard Health estimates that a 155 pound person will burn around 149 calories per 30 minutes of yoga.
Yoga can also teach mindfulness, which can help you resist the temptation of unhealthy foods, curb overeating, and help you to understand your body’s hunger signals.
You can find yoga classes at most gyms, but you can also work out at home with one of the many tutorials online.
Pilates is good for beginners, and could help you lose weight.
A study sponsored by the American Council on Exercise showed that a 140 pound person could burn 108 calories during a 30-minute beginner Pilates class, or 168 calories during a 30-minute advanced class.
Pilates has also been shown to reduce lower back pain, as well as improving strength, flexibility, balance, endurance, and overall fitness. You can combine Pilates with other exercise like cardio or weight training for a bigger weight-loss boost.
Many gyms offer Pilates classes, but you can also do it at home.
Other Factors in Losing Weight
How much weight you can actually lose depends on many factors, including:
Starting weight – those who weigh more to start with often shed more pounds than those who weigh less. Age – as you get older, you tend to carry more fat and less muscle mass, which affects how many calories your body burns at rest. Gender – Women have a larger fat to muscle ratio than men, which means men tend to lose weight quicker, even if they have a similar number of calories. Diet – burning more calories than you eat is what causes weight loss, so you must have a calorie deficit to lose weight. Sleep – a lack of sleep could slow your weight loss rate, and increase cravings for unhealthy foods. Medical conditions – those with certain medical conditions, such as hypothyroidism often lose weight at a slower rate. Genetics – studies show that weight has a genetic component, which can affect certain people with obesity.