Learn which types of exercise will help you meet and exceed your weight loss goals
I’m often asked if a person can lose weight without exercise, and the answer is yes—but, chances are, the weight loss won’t be sustainable.
For healthy, lasting weight loss, regular exercise is absolutely critical. Exercise burns calories and fat, increases lean body tissue, and raises your metabolic rate. For best results, make sure you combine aerobic workouts with some form of weight-bearing exercise.
Walking, swimming, singles tennis, cycling, dancing, or the use of a treadmill, elliptical machine, or exercise bike are all good examples of aerobic exercise for weight loss.
Aerobic exercise gets you breathing harder, increases your pulse rate, and helps you burn calories and fat. It also conditions your heart and improves your cardiovascular system’s ability to efficiently transport oxygen and nutrients to the cells in your body. Getting at least 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity five times a week will help you in your weight loss efforts.
However, if you want to supercharge your aerobic activity for rapid weight loss and maximum fat loss, use interval training.
Interval training combines a slow, steady pace with bursts of much more intense effort. For example, instead of walking at the same pace for 30 minutes, try walking at your normal pace for about 5 or 6 minutes, then speed up your pace to a full speed walk for an “interval” of 2½ to 3 minutes, then go back to the normal pace for another 5 to 6 minutes. (Whatever exercise you’re doing, the higher intensity phase should be for about half the time as the normal, slower, “resting” phase.)
During the higher-effort intervals, your muscles require more oxygen than is typically available, which means your cells must rely on metabolic reactions that don’t require oxygen. This is referred to as being in an anaerobic state. With interval training, you transition back and forth from an aerobic state to an anaerobic state—and that requires your body to burn more fat for fuel.
Interval training also helps reset your overall metabolic rate—or your body’s personal thermostat—higher so it burns more fuel, even when you’re at rest. In other words, even after you stop exercising, your body continues to burn fat, leading to more rapid weight loss.
Aerobic exercise burns a certain amount of calories and fat while you’re doing it, but to keep burning calories and fat for hours afterward, you must combine weight-bearing or resistance exercise into your routine.
An important benefit of muscle tissue is that, unlike fat tissue, it constantly uses energy. Therefore, the more muscle tissue you have, the higher your metabolic rate will be. So build up those muscles!
If you have access to a gym to lift weights, that’s great. If not, that’s okay, too. You can do weight-bearing and resistance exercises in the comfort of your own home by doing pushups, squats, and other similar exercises. You can also build strength by doing isometric exercises.
And finally, remember to keep it varied and interesting so that you don’t get bored with exercise. You can even incorporate exercise into your daily routine so that you’re burning extra calories and losing weight without breaking a huge sweat.