Losing weight through cardio exercise isn't something that happens overnight, but if you're willing to grind it out and put in the hours, you'll be able to start seeing results before long. Weight loss can be difficult if you don't have enough time to hit the gym. However, if your schedule affords you 90 minutes of exercise time each day, shedding pounds can be a breeze.
Calories and Fat
Calories and fat might be two of your weight-loss nemeses, but if you're dedicated to improving your health by losing weight, knowing the relationship between the two will help you be more informed during each workout. One pound of fat consists of 3,500 calories, which means that if you want to lose a pound, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you eat and drink. You can't realistically burn 3,500 calories in one workout, so take a multi-day approach when planning your workouts. MayoClinic.com suggests burning 500 extra calories per day to lose a pound per week.
Knowing exactly how much to exercise can be an obstacle to developing a fat-burning workout routine. By spending 90 minutes per day doing cardio exercises, you'll easily surpass the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recommendation of 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week. Cardio exercises that can help you burn calories quickly include jogging, cycling and swimming. In the gym, machines such as the stationary bike, rowing machine, elliptical trainer and treadmill help you get a cardio workout.
Whether you're dedicated to working out in a gym or prefer outdoor activities such as jogging and cycling, cardio exercises are an effective way to burn calories. Harvard Medical School reports that if a 185-pound person spends 90 minutes using a rowing machine or stationary bike at a moderate pace, she'll burn 933 calories. During a 90-minute workout outside the gym, the same person will burn 1,065 calories running at 5 mph or 1,332 calories cycling between 14 and 15.9 mph.
Spending 90 minutes per day doing cardio exercises is an effective way to burn enough calories to help you lose weight, but paying attention to what you consume is also important when you're trying to get results. The Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion recommends that women consume 1,800 to 2,400 calories per day; if you're working out vigorously, you'll likely need to consume closer to the upper end of this range.
If you don't have a 90-minute block of time each day in which to exercise, don't give up on meeting your weight-loss goals. If your schedule is more conducive to working out at various times throughout the day, try three 30-minute blocks of exercise. The exercises don't need to be the same, either; keeping them different adds variety to your day. Try, for example, a 30-minute bike ride in the morning, a 30-minute walk during your lunch break at work and 30 minutes of swimming or using an exercise machine in the evening.
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- HealthStatus: 1 Pound of Fat = 3,500 Calories
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- U.S. Department of Health and Human Services: 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
- Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion: Balancing Calories to Manage Weight
Toronto-based journalist William McCoy has been writing since 1997, specializing in topics such as sports, nutrition and health. He serves as the Studio's sports and recreation section expert. McCoy is a journalism graduate of Ryerson University.