If you're fed up with the muffin top that rears its ugly head whenever you cinch up a pair of tight jeans, it's time to trade the jeans for a pair of athletic shorts and start working out. Cardio exercises, in the gym or elsewhere, are an effective way to burn calories quickly to help you shed fat. The number of cardio exercises at your fingertips means that you'll have no trouble finding an exercise you enjoy.
If you'd rather not invest too much thought in developing your workout, focus on simple exercises that you can do around your home. Such exercises include walking, jogging, swimming, cycling and in-line skating. Each exercise has no complicated equipment to learn and you can work out at your convenience, whether it's a short jog in the morning before work or a family bike ride on the weekend.
If you have a gym membership or live near a gym, you have a number of calorie-burning exercise machines at your disposal. These machines include the treadmill, elliptical trainer, stationary bike and rowing machine. Pick one or more machines that you'll enjoy using; if you want to flip through a magazine while you work out, the stationary bike is ideal. To work your arms while you burn calories, try the elliptical trainer or rowing machine.
Sports not only release your competitive juices -- most sports also provide effective fat-burning cardio. Focus on a sport that you enjoy, because you'll often stick with these activities longer than those you don't enjoy. Soccer, tennis, basketball and flag football help you burn calories at a moderate rate, while sports such as volleyball and downhill skiing burn calories slightly slower. If you want to test your mettle against an opponent, consider learning boxing or martial arts, which burn calories quickly. Racquetball burns calories quickly and is ideal if you enjoy healthy competition with friends.
MayoClinic.com reports that 1 pound of fat equals 3,500 calories, which means you'll need to burn 3,500 calories beyond what you consume to lose 1 pound. The clinic recommends creating a daily calorie deficit and notes that setting a goal of losing 1 to 2 pounds per week is reachable. Although you can dedicate yourself to one cardio exercise to burn calories, filling your workout regimen with multiple exercises can help keep your workouts fresh. For example, try a combination of running, visiting the gym and playing a sport to avoid workout monotony.
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.