For optimal cardiovascular (and fat-burning) benefits, your aerobic program should bring your heart rate up to 60 to 80 per cent of your maximum rate for 30 minutes at least four times a week. To find out what that rate is, subtract your age from 220; then calculate 60 to 80 percent of that figure. Here are some exercise recommendations to enhance fat loss and improve body composition.
Best Exercise to lose weight #1
Resistance Training Goal: Work out with weights for 20 to 40 minutes every other day.
Exercises: Choose two body parts per workout. For example, chest and triceps on Monday, back and biceps on Wednesday, and legs and shoulders on Friday. Vary your exercises and routine to challenge the muscles. Pick two exercises per body part and do two to three sets of that move. For example, do chest presses and dumbbell flies to work the chest. Start off by using a lower weight and doing 15 to 20 repetitions of each move. Over a period of several weeks, increase the weight and lower the repetitions, so you are using a weight that fatigues your muscle in eight to 12 repetitions.
Tips: Before a weight routine, warm up with a set of light weights first to increase blood flow to the muscles and get yourself warmed up. Take the time to do the move properly. Bad technique can lead to injury and make workouts less effective. Be consistent— do not miss a workout. Find a partner for motivation and consistency. Seek the advice of a personal trainer to learn how to use the weights and machines properly.
Best Exercise to lose weight #2
Goal: 30 to 45 minutes, five times per week.
Exercises: Examples of cardiovascular activities include walking, swimming, biking, aerobics, dancing and rollerblading. Start slowly and gradually increase the duration and intensity of your activities. If you can only do five minutes to start, that is fine. With time, endurance improves.
Tips: Pick activities that you enjoy and try to do them first thing in the morning or right after work, preferably on an empty stomach. To increase intensity, add power to the movements. For example, when a brisk 30-minute walk can be done with ease, add hand/ankle weights or travel on an incline.
It is best to exercise on an empty stomach, or after a light snack or protein shake. Try to fit in your workouts in the morning, since you have more energy and will continue to burn calories for several hours afterward. If you can’t exercise in the morning, then try to go during your lunch hour.
Although stretching is not the best exercise to lose weight, in the past, stretching was recommended before a workout to reduce your risk of injury and muscle strain. The latest research, however, found that this is not the case. Australian researchers reviewed five studies on the effects of stretching and muscle soreness, and found that it offered no benefits before a workout. However, stretching is not a waste of time—it does help improve flexibility, increase blood flow and relieve pain after a workout. Stretching can also be a relaxing way to end your day and helps to work out tension and knots in the muscles. Take your time when doing a stretch and hold the position for at least ten seconds to get the most benefits.
Beginners, Start Slowly
If you have been sedentary all your life, the prospect of getting active may be intimidating. The most important advice for beginners is to take it slowly. The best exercise to lose weight is a gradual, incremental process. If you do too much too soon, you may injure yourself or become too discouraged to continue.
Start by taking a five-minute walk around the block, to your friend’s house or a store. The next day, walk six or seven minutes. Day by day, steadily increase the time and intensity of your activity. You will build your capacity for physical activity, making it easier to push yourself to the next level. Aim for a total of one hour moderate intensity activity each day.
Make sure you find activities you enjoy, because you are not as likely to stick with something that is not fun. You may need to try a number of activities to find one or two you like. It may be walking, lifting weights, swimming or water exercises, bicycling, racquetball, tennis, dancing, rowing, yoga, kick-boxing or aerobics classes. It may be a combination of any of the above. Remember, activities such as raking leaves, playing with young children, gardening and housework also contribute to greater fitness and weight control.
Why Exercise to Lose Weight Is So Important
Lack of physical activity is a major factor in our obesity epidemic. Modern life offers fewer opportunities for burning calories. With remote controls, elevators, easily accessible transportation, and the increasingly automated nature of our society we just simply are not getting enough physical activity and this is fueling our obesity epidemic.
Keep in mind, to control weight you need to exercise, and exercise can be fun! You can certainly reduce your weight by reducing your calorie intake. But by adding a 30-minute brisk walk four day a week, you can double your rate of weight loss. Boost that to five days a week and the rewards are greater. As an example of why exercise to lose weight makes such a difference, consider that those who work out five times a week have been found to lose three times as much fat as those who exercise only two or three times weekly.
The guidelines released from the National Academies Institute of Medicine recommend that adults and children should spend a total of at least one hour each day in moderately intense physical activity.
Two of the most common reasons people give for not exercising are—lack of time and can’t afford. We all seem to have very busy lifestyles and put exercise at the bottom of our list of priorities, while it should be near the top. There are so many ways that we can incorporate moderate physical activity into our daily lifestyle. Doing housework or gardening with vim and vigour, washing your car (instead of using the drive-through), dancing and brisk walking are just some examples of activities that we can work into our day with no cost. If you can’t fit an hour in, then try to spend a half hour in the morning and half hour in the evening. When you exercise to lose weight every little bit helps and the benefits are cumulative.
Consistent exercise promotes the loss of body fat in several ways:
- Increased energy expenditures. Exercise or physical activity burns calories and stored fat. Even if you continue to eat exactly as you do now, and start exercising consistently, you can lose 30 pounds over the next year.
- Afterburn. Your basal metabolic rate is heightened for four to 24 hours after vigorous physical activity.
- Increased lean body mass. Exercise is critical for building and maintaining strong, healthy muscles and muscle burns more calories than any other part of the body. Increasing lean muscle mass helps the body to utilize fat more efficiently as fuel. Dieting without exercise to lose weight can actually lead to loss of muscle mass along with fat. When this happens metabolism slows down and you burn fewer calories.
- Slowing down the movement of food through your digestive tract. Physical activity helps control your weight by slowing down the digestive process. Since your stomach takes longer to empty, you feel full longer.
- Balancing blood sugar. Exercise pulls stored calories, or energy, in the forms of glucose and fat out of tissues. In this way, blood glucose levels stay balanced and you are less likely to feel hungry.
As discussed earlier, being active daily is not only recommended, but essential for overall health. If you are interested in taking your weight loss program a step further and want to maximize fat loss, then it is important to consider regular exercise to lose weight that includes a combination of aerobic (cardiovascular) activity, toning/strength training and stretching.
Contrary to popular belief, doing aerobic activity alone is not the most effective way to lose body fat. Aerobic activities (walking, biking, dancing, etc.) do burn calories and provide health benefits, but resistance training (i.e., weight lifting) plays an even stronger role in weight loss because it boosts your metabolism, improves thermogenesis (calorie-burning) and promotes loss of body fat. These exercises build lean muscle mass. Remember, the more muscle you have, the more calories you burn. In fact, one pound of muscle burns roughly 50 calories per day, compared to one pound of fat, which burns only two to three calories per day.
Resistance training is particularly important for women because it helps slow down the muscle loss that occurs with aging. For those of you who are in your 40s, you may have noticed the undesirable shift in body composition that happens with age. We start to lose our muscle mass and gradually gain body fat, especially around the mid-section.
Another benefit of resistance training is that it improves balance, increases endurance and improves bone density (reducing the risk of osteoporosis).
To create an effective program of exercise to lose weight, choose a balance of activities, in a particular order. It was previously thought that cardio exercises should be done first, to allow the muscles to warm up and to maximize fat loss. However, during the first 20 minutes of your workout, sugar (carbohydrate), rather than fat, is the primary source of fuel. So, in order to burn fat calories with aerobic activities, you have to do more than 20 minutes of that activity.
Unfortunately, most people do not have the time to spend more than 20 minutes on the treadmill or bike. Many sports researchers feel that it is much better to do cardio after your weight-training routine. This way, our bodies will be switched into fat-burning mode and you can take advantage of the endorphins and hormones (testosterone and growth hormone) that are released after your weight workout.
Additional Exercise Benefits
In addition to weight control, consistent physical activity offers the following impressive benefits:
- Improved Mood Even light exercise can boost your emotional wellbeing. Aerobic exercise stimulates the release of certain mood-elevating compounds called endorphins— “feel good” chemicals. These natural painkillers induce relaxation and relieve depression.
- Reduced Risk of Heart Disease If you are overweight, you face a higher risk of cardiovascular disease. Exercise can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol, two major risk factors for heart disease. It also reduces stress, another contributing factor to heart disease, especially for women.
- Increased Mental Acuity Memory loss can occur as a result of age, poor health, depression or medications. But unless there is irreversible brain damage, physical activity can invigorate and revitalize the mind. Aerobic exercise helps move blood and oxygen to all the body’s organs, including the brain.
- Reduced risk of diabetes Excess weight increases the risk of type 2 diabetes. Physically active people are less likely to develop this condition, and those who have type 2 diabetes can reduce their blood sugar and their need for medication with more physical activity. Exercise increases the body’s ability to use sugar for energy and thereby decreases the need for insulin.
- Pain Relief When you exercise, your body generates pain-killing endorphins. Moderate exercise also triggers the release of natural cortisone, which helps relieve the pain of osteoarthritis. Overweight people are more susceptible to osteoarthritis. Strength training, in particular, can decrease arthritis pain and keep your body limber and flexible.
- Increased Bone Density Osteoporosis is a debilitating bone condition responsible for chronic pain, spine problems and bone fractures for millions of people, most of them women. Bone loss is preventable and, to some extent, reversible. Resistance exercises, those that stress the bones, can help improve bone density and prevent bone loss with aging.
- Longevity Obese people face a higher rate of mortality. Exercise may help reduce that risk. Studies of post-menopausal women have found that, in general, the more frequent and intense their physical activity, the lower their risk of death from all causes.
- Increased Strength Regular resistance training exercises can significantly increase your strength. This has even been demonstrated even among in those over age 80.
- Improved Quality of Sleep Lack of sleep is a common concern especially for women and it can have far-reaching effects on our health, increasing the risk for heart disease, depression and even some forms of cancer. Regular exercise has been shown to improve sleep quality.
- Improved Energy Level Believe it or not, regular exercise can actually make you feel more energized and give you the vim and vigour to lead an active life.