Many factors influence how much weight you lose each week, including your starting weight, your activity level, genes, the foods you eat -- even your age. When you understand basic weight-loss facts, however, you will be able to determine how much exercise you need to do each day to see results.
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Calories In and Calories Out
For you to lose weight, you have to eat fewer calories than you use or use more calories than you are eating. This way, your body is forced to get energy from fat stores around your body and your weight will decrease. It takes 3,500 calories to make 1 lb. To lose 1 lb. a week, you will need to burn off 3,500 more calories than you eat.
A healthy adult who can only workout three times a week should engage in at least 20 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise and some strength-training twice each week. This is a minimum amount of exercise needed to maintain your current health level. To increase weight loss, increase the amount of time you spend doing cardiovascular exercise.
Low- to Moderate-Intensity Exercise
If you plan to engage in low- to moderate-intensity exercise three times a week, you will burn fewer calories within a certain time period. You will lose less weight than an high-intensity workout. Performing 30 minutes of a lower intensity aerobic workout will cause you to burn 200 calories. Ballroom dancing burns 219 calories per hour in someone who weighs 160 lbs. and 273 calories in someone who weighs 200 lbs. To maximize your exercise routine and burn the most fat, extend the amount of time you are working out each day.
Vigorous activity will help you burn more fat in a shorter period of time. More vigorous activity may help you if your exercise schedule is limited to only three days a week. Someone who weighs 160 lbs. and runs at 8 mph burns 986 calories each hour. Another person who weighs 200 lbs. will lose up to 1,229 calories each hour running at 8 mph. So, if you weigh 160 lbs. and run at that rate for an hour three times a week, you will be close to losing 1 lb. that week, as long as your calorie intake remains reasonable.
If you are only exercising three times a week and you want to lose weight, it may be important for you to eat a healthy and sensible diet to decrease your overall calorie intake. Even if you cut only 300 calories a day from your diet, you will see faster weight loss results than with exercise alone.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Overweight and Obesity—Causes and Consequences
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss—Calories Burned in One Hour
- American Council on Exercise: Will I Lose Body Fat More Efficiently by Performing my Aerobic Workouts at a Low, Rather than a High, Intensity?
- American College of Sports Medicine: Physical Activity and Public Health Guidelines