While diet takes a leading role in any serious weight-loss effort, exercise plays a very important supporting role. The more active you are, the more calories you expend. The more calories you burn, the easier it is to create the calorie deficit necessary for weight loss. For best results, choose workouts that you enjoy -- activities that you can see yourself consistently doing.
High-Intensity Intermittent Exercise
According to the "Journal of Obesity," high-intensity intermittent exercise may be the most effective at reducing body fat. HIIE workouts are short and involve alternating periods of intense exercise and brief rest.Sprinting is one example of HIIE. Run 400 meters as fast as possible, then rest one minute. Repeat three times. Tabata is another example of HIIE. A tabata is a four-minute workout composed of eight cycles of 20 seconds of work followed by 10 seconds of rest. Most any exercise can be done in the tabata format. A tabata squat workout looks like this: For 20 seconds do as many squats as possible; rest 10 seconds; repeat for seven more cycles.
Aerobic exercise delivers a big bang for your exercise buck. Running, cycling, rowing, swimming and jumping rope are all good choices for anyone wanting to burn extra calories. An hour of running at a moderate, 10-minute pace burns well over 500 calories. For those who don’t like to run – or can’t due to injury -- rowing is a good alternative with similar calorie expenditure. A leisurely bike ride will net you more than 250 calories per hour. Just 20 minutes of jumping rope burns 200 calories or more. Swimming is another big burner with around 250 calories consumed for a half-hour of leisurely laps.
Aerobic exercise may burn a lot of calories, but to improve your basal metabolism -- the calories you burn while at rest -- you'll want to lift some weights. According to the "Journal of Circulation," strength training aids in weight loss via increased lean body mass and basal metabolism, leading to an increase in calories expended both at work and at rest. Consider beginning with a program of back squats and thrusters. Both are compound, full-body movements that develop overall strength and improve metabolic conditioning.
The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans published by the Department of Health and Human Services strongly encourages all adults to consider walking for exercise. Walking is inexpensive and accessible. It provides significant health benefits -- including weight control -- and the risk of injury is low. The guidelines call for at least 150 minutes per week. For weight loss you will want to strive for at least 300 minutes per week -- or an hour of brisk walking five days per week. You might also consider adding a walking program to other regular exercise of your choosing.
- Journal of Obesity: High Intensity Intermittent Exercise and Fat Loss
- NutriStrategy: Calories Burned During Exercise
- Circulation: Resistance Exercise in Individuals With and Without Cardiovascular Disease
- U.S. News Health: Don't Just Diet: Exercise to Lose Weight, Too
- Shape: The 4-Minute Fat-Burning Miracle Tabata Workout
- The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Further Evidence for the Benefits of Walking
- U.S. Department of Health & Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans: Chapter 4: Active Adults
- American Council on Exercise: Exercise Library: Barbell High Back Squat
- CrossFit: Exercises & Demos: Thrusters