Forget about finding the fountain of youth; a simple way to restore the athletic body you had as a teenager is to shed fat by burning more calories than you consume. And while you can take lonely runs in the evening while fending off the odd stray dog, you might have better success by visiting a gym and making use of its calorie-burning equipment.
Warm up your muscles by stretching before you begin to use any of the gym's equipment. "Shape" magazine recommends performing dynamic stretches before each workout. Dynamic stretches are fairly rapid movements that increase your heart rate and core temperature while putting your muscles through their range of motion. Always stretch the muscles you plan to use during the workout. Simple dynamic stretches include power skipping and kicks.
Choose one or more aerobic machines for your workout. Aerobic exercises help you burn calories at a rapid rate, and the harder and longer you can work out, the more calories you'll burn. Gym equipment that provides an aerobic workout includes the treadmill, stationary bike, elliptical trainer and rowing machine. If you weigh 185 pounds and spend 30 minutes using the elliptical trainer, you'll burn 400 calories, according to Harvard Medical School. You will burn 466 calories during 30 minutes of vigorous stationary bike use.
Combine aerobic exercise and weight training to develop a fat-burning circuit-training regimen. On its own, lifting weights doesn't help you burn calories at a high rate, but Bodybuilding.com notes that when you alternate between aerobic exercise and weight training, you'll burn calories during the workout and boost your metabolism to continue burning calories in the hours that follow. Gyms provide many opportunities for circuit training; alternate between one-minute intervals of using a rowing machine and lifting free weights and continue the regimen for up to 45 minutes.
- Shape: The Best Way to Stretch Before and After a Workout
- Harvard Medical School: Calories Burned in 30 Minutes for People of Three Different Weights
- Bodybuilding.com: Fat-Loss Circuit Training
- MayoClinic.com: Exercise for Weight Loss: Calories Burned in 1 Hour
- MayoClinic.com: Weight Loss: 6 Strategies for Success
- One pound of fat is equal to 3,500 calories, which means that to burn off 1 pound, you must burn 3,500 calories more than you consume. If you can create a calorie deficit of 500 calories through diet and exercise daily, you'll burn 3,500 excess calories to lose 1 pound per week. MayoClinic.com suggests that losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is a healthy rate.
- Spend several minutes using static stretches to relax your muscles after your workout. Hold static stretches for 30 seconds and repeat each stretch four to six times. To stretch your chest, for example, stand straight, hold your arms out at your sides and parallel to the ground, and push them as far back as you can until you feel a stretch in your chest.
- Consult your doctor before attempting to start any new exercise program.
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.