7 Best Exercises for Weight Loss

Best Exercises for Weight Loss
The 7 Best Exercises for Weight Loss

Losing weight requires creating a calorie deficit through diet and exercise. While diet plays a major role, exercise is also important for weight loss and overall health. The right types of exercise can boost your metabolism and help you burn more calories. This article will explore 8 of the best exercises for weight loss based on effectiveness and ease of participation.

1. Walking

Walking is one of the most accessible and easy exercises for weight loss. Walking is a low-impact activity that is gentle on joints like knees and hips. It gets the heart rate up and burns calories without placing unnecessary stress on the body. Approximately 30 minutes of brisk walking 5 days a week can lead to significant weight loss over time. Brisk walking means covering about 3 to 4 miles in that 30 minutes. It burns around 100 calories per mile for most people. So a 30-minute walk burns approximately 300 calories. 

Walking is a great form of cardiovascular exercise that also counts steps and gets you outside for some fresh air and vitamin D. It does not require any equipment or memberships at a gym. Make walking part of your daily routine by parking further away, taking walking breaks at work, or replacing short car rides with walks.

2. Jogging or running

For a higher calorie burn than walking, jogging or running is more effective. Just 30 minutes of running can burn over 300 calories versus walking's average of 100 calories per mile. Running requires more effort so it gets the heart pumping faster to burn more energy and fat. 

Most health experts recommend that beginners start with a walk-run combination to ease into it. Walk for a few minutes then pick up the pace and jog or run for 30 seconds to a couple minutes before slowing back down to a walk. Gradually increase the jogging/running intervals over time. Proper running form and shoes are important to avoid injury. 

For maximum calorie burn, aim for a minimum of 150 minutes of running or jogging per week. Running has been shown to be highly effective for weight loss when combined with a calorie-controlled diet. It is a great full-body, cardio exercise that can burn over 600 calories in just an hour. For convenience, look for running routes near your home so it's easy to fit into your schedule.

3. Cycling

Cycling, whether indoor or outdoor, provides an excellent low-impact cardio workout that burns major calories. Cycling for 30 minutes at a moderate pace can burn around 300-400 calories. 

It improves cardiovascular health and leg strength without placing the same stress on joints that walking or running does. Cycling is very versatile as a weight loss exercise. You can ride a bike outdoors on scenic routes, on dedicated bike paths, or inside on a stationary bike. Indoor cycling has the advantage of being weather-proof. Stationary bikes are also widely available at most gyms and home exercise machines. 

Spend 30-60 minutes cycling 3-5 times per week for effective fat burning and weight loss results. Vary the pace, do interval training, and adjust the bike's resistance level to continually challenge your body. Focus on keeping proper posture and fully engaging leg muscles for maximum calorie burn. Cycling is an enjoyable cardio option to add to your routine.

4. Weight training

Many people think cardio is the prime focus for weight loss, but weight/strength training with weights or resistance bands also plays an important role. As muscle mass increases, metabolic rate or calorie burn at rest also goes up. Muscle is more metabolically active than fat. Daily activities like walking require more calories to be expended with higher muscle mass. 

Lifting weights just 2-3 times per week can increase calorie burn even outside of your workouts. It promotes body recomposition by replacing lost weight with lean muscle. Focus on full-body strength training that works large muscle groups like legs, back, chest, shoulders and arms. Start with lighter weights and higher reps (12-15) then progress to heavier weights and lower reps (8-12) over time.

Compound exercises like squats, pushups, rows and lunges provide the most bang for your buck. Give your body a day of rest in between weight lifting sessions for recovery and muscle growth. Combine strength training with cardiovascular exercise most days for maximized weight loss and fitness benefits. Lifting weights prevents muscle loss during fat loss and leaves you with a toned physique.

5. Interval training

Interval training uses short bursts of high-intensity exercise followed by periods of lower-intensity exercise, all while maintaining an elevated heart rate. It raises metabolism and continues burning calories long after your workout is over. Interval training has been shown to be one of the most effective forms of exercise to lose weight. You can do intervals during any cardio activity like running, biking, swimming or rowing. 

For example, jog at a comfortable pace for 3 minutes then sprint, run or row as fast as possible for 1 minute before slowing back down. Repeat this high-low pattern for 20-30 minutes, 3-4 times per week. Interval training provides both aerobic and anaerobic benefits. You experience increased fat burn during high-intensity intervals along with improved cardiovascular endurance and fitness overall. Try different interval timers on fitness apps to switch it up. 

The short bursts of maximum effort burn lots of calories during the intervals and your body continues burning more calories in the recovery periods as it works to return to the resting state. This elevated calorie and fat burn gives interval training an edge over steady-state cardio.

6. Swimming

Swimming is an excellent full-body, low-impact cardio exercise that utilizes all major muscle groups with no wear and tear on joints. Just 30 minutes of swimming can help burn over 300 calories for most individuals. It strengthens muscles and improves cardiovascular fitness without stressing your bones and connective tissues like running does. 

The water provides resistance, which working against adds intensity and calorie burn to every stroke. Swimming engages the large muscle groups in the arms, shoulders, back, abdomen, hips, thighs and calves. It has minimal joint pressure compared to high-impact exercises. All swimming styles like freestyle, backstroke, breaststroke and butterfly work the entire body and heart and lungs differently. Include interval training in your laps with faster laps or kicks mixed in for variety. Swimming outdoor laps or intervals 3-4 times per week helps achieve weight loss and fitness goals.

8. Pilates

Pilates is a body conditioning routine that improves flexibility, builds muscle strength and develops control and endurance. Like yoga, Pilates exercise moves are low impact but really work muscles through small, precise movements. It concentrates on engaging your deep core abdominal and back muscles, resulting in a long, lean physique. A 60 minute Pilates class can burn 200-300 calories by challenging your body to hold plank and side plank positions along with controlled movements flowing from one exercise to the next. 

Mat Pilates requires no special equipment and can be done anywhere. Pilates exercises improve posture and put less stress on joints like knees, ankles and back. This makes it a suitable complementary exercise for people also walking, swimming or some other low-impact activity for weight loss. 

For stronger results, take Pilates classes 2-3 times per week and practice complementary cardio on other days. The benefits of Pilates accumulate slowly over consistent practice as core and muscle strength is built. With its focus on holding sculpting positions and activating deep powerhouse muscles, Pilates creates a lean and chiseled look from all angles. 

All of these 7 exercises provide different benefits for weight loss, fitness improvement and long-term health when adopted consistently. Experiment to find two or three enjoyed activities that fit your lifestyle needs and preferences. Weight loss requires finding exercises you enjoy and can stick with for the long run as part of an overall calorie-managed diet and active lifestyle. Staying active is a vital part of health success.
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